With the next installment of the Indiana Jones franchise finally streaming on Disney+, the time is now or never to rank the films that exist within the decades-spanning story. Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny premiered to lukewarm reviews at best, but at the very worst, it’s another Indiana Jones movie with Harrison Ford at the helm, right?
That being said, the already existing handful of films all possess unique, differentiating qualities — some better than others. Regardless of how you personally rank them, there is one cold, hard truth we can all agree on: Indiana Jones created a pop-culture icon in 1981 that has stood the test of time. So, without further ado, the current Indiana Jones ranking!
5. ‘Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull’
I just rewatched this one for the first time since it was released in 2008 and let me put it lightly: I am not a fan. I know other people out there like it more than I do, and while there are a few redeeming qualities (namely the Spielbergian vibe, seeing Indy and Marion fall back in love, and some well-executed, high-stakes action sequences), it ultimately just doesn’t work as a “legacy reboot” to the franchise.
Shia LaBeouf isn’t terrible, but by no means is he great, and he is definitely not up to standard to be the next Indy. Cate Blanchett is underutilized. The CGI, especially in the third act, is almost headache-inducing in the world of Indiana Jones, and well…aliens. It’s a fine blockbuster by today’s standards, but it is ridiculously easy to deem this at the bottom of the rankings.
4. ‘Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny’
With this being the most recent Indy release of the bunch it’s tough to credibly pit it against entries that are more than 30 years old — there is just a certain magic that this entry has a hard time grasping that is what makes the original trilogy tick. With that said, this is far better than it has any right to be. James Mangold is able to whip up an installment that both pays respect to the past of Indiana Jones and pushes the franchise in a new direction in a fun way.
Phoebe Waller-Bridge brings an invigorating energy and humor that plays off the aged Harrison Ford to keep things spirited and exciting. Sure, it’s 30 minutes too long, and yes, the time fissure narrative strains credulity a bit (for the record I really enjoyed it!), but it will never not be fun to see Indiana Jones fight Nazis even if he has to be de-aged to do so.
3. ‘Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom’
As far as most sequels go, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom is not too far out of line—darker, higher stakes, some fun new characters, and pushing the boundaries of what the first film gave us. But, also in the case of how most sequels go, Temple of Doom didn’t execute those ideas the best.
Even Steven Spielberg himself admits that it’s too dark! I mean, a guy literally rips someone’s heart out. Yeah, pretty dark. I will say, however, that it is still a quality Indy adventure. Exciting set pieces, a classic McGuffin, and the addition of Short Round (Ke Huy Quan) as a hilarious character that adds some levity during a sinister story. It’s racially insensitive and a bit of a tough watch in those terms, so be warned—but for an Indy flick, it’s still pretty fun.
2. ‘Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark’
Objectively, this is the best Indiana Jones movie, I know that. It was a breakout hit in the ’80s that added more fuel to the fire of Harrison Ford’s stardom and certified Steven Spielberg as someone who could make a movie that was able to blend high-intensity action with meaningful subtext.
Indy fights Nazis, people’s faces literally melt off, and it’s got the iconic boulder-rolling scene! All elite cinema material. The use of practical effects blended with how wild some scenes are is jaw-dropping to watch in retrospect. Actually, I’ve got basically no notes for Raiders. It’s that good. It’s just number two. *shrugs in Indiana Jones*
1. ‘Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade‘
While Raiders may be objectively the best Indy movie, The Last Crusade is the most fun — and this is my ranking! So, it’s in first place. Sean Connery alongside Harrison Ford, two of the most massive movie stars of the ’80s, have irreplaceable on-screen chemistry as father and son.
This is undeniably the funniest Indiana Jones entry as nearly every joke is an absolute hit. Nazis are back (yes!), the practical effects are incredible (again!), and there is some serious character drama. All combine for a premium Indy experience — plus young River Phoenix!
I remember watching Indy walk across the invisible bridge as a kid thinking it was the coolest thing I’d ever seen, and it still holds up. Want a true journey into Spielberg’s psyche? Watch The Fabelmans then Last Crusade and you’ll be blown away.
Wherever Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny slots into this ranking, one thing is for certain — it is nice to have Indy back! Follow the Agents of Fandom socials to keep track of all our Indiana Jones and entertainment coverage.