According to Latino-Review, Bradley Cooper is at the top of the list to replace Harrison Ford as Indiana Jones. Per their spot-on context, he’d be the George Lazenby to Sean Connery’s James Bond. This is hardcore rumor status, but it raises an important, inevitable question: will you accept seeing someone who isn’t Ford, claiming to be Indiana Jones on screen?
The Lazenby comparison is apt (although any actor taking the whip would prefer Roger Moore as the model…) because both Connery and Ford thoroughly defined those characters in a way that makes it extremely difficult for a new actor to realize. It’s likely that a new incarnation — regardless of the actor — would be seen as a pretender. The parallels continue since Connery was replaced while still active. That would also be the case if Harrison Ford is replaced, even though it’s far easier to argue that Ford is more past his prime for running away from blowguns than Connery was (especially since Connery returned to the role almost immediately after giving it up).
To that point, there’s still a chance that Indiana Jones 5 could happen with Ford as Indy, and it’s probably one of the most emotionally conflicting possibilities. As quick as any of us are to bow down, there’s also a palpable feeling that Old Ford would be replacing Young Ford and not necessarily doing it gracefully (see: Crystal Skull + 7 years). That raises the true question here: is it better to have more adventures with Indy even if it’s not Indy, or to know that we have all the adventures we’ll ever get? Is it unfair to criticize a formerly great artist for his latter days sins? Is it better to burn out than fade away? On the rumor side of things, going to Cooper is an obvious move. For the same reason that a bunch of people want to see him star as Nathan Drake in Uncharted (if that ever gets made). The Hollywood math is definitely there, and he wouldn’t be a bad choice as a charismatic action hero. He’s also that rare movie star who hasn’t done anything to secure a specific identity, so there’s no baggage on his end for playing a character that has plenty of its own. Imagine Matthew McConaughey playing Indy now. Or Tom Cruise.
Plus, if they’re able to successfully reboot the character with a new actor, it could be monumental — leading to the honest rebirth of an insanely popular franchise. It would also provide a heady sense of deja vu to people catching it after the new Star Wars movies.
But more than a cargo-drop of money, it would prove (at least to studio execs) that franchises and name-recognition really are the elements of film marketing that matter. There have now been six official James Bonds. With 23 official James Bond films spanning half a century, there have been some high highs and low lows. For better or for worse, the question is whether we want to see that Shakespearificiation happen to the adventurer named after a dog.
My personal take is extremely cautious optimism that’s drowned out by the abysmal track record of modern franchise-building. Crystal Skull doesn’t provide a vote of confidence, but the real struggle will be somehow remembering how to make an interesting hero imbued with honest personality inside the explosion-every-ten-pages formula that seems contractually demanded by Satan.
The Latino-Review piece also mentions that Frank Darabont might have pitched an idea for the new Indiana Jones which both feels expected and — after the debacle of Crystal Skull — too good to matter.