Adventure Movies

How to watch the Indiana Jones movies in order

June 19, 20239 Mins Read

Since his debut in 1981’s Raiders of the Lost Ark, Indiana Jones has remained one of Hollywood’s most iconic action heroes. The blockbuster series currently consists of four movies (the fifth, Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny, comes out June 30), and its influence on pop culture cannot be overstated. The franchise reinvigorated the adventure genre, prompted the PG-13 rating, and inspired multiple generations of filmmakers and audiences alike. Now, ahead of the newest installment, we’ve assembled a guide to the first four Indiana Jones movies and where to stream them. Here’s how to watch them in order.

Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)

Everett Collection

The movie that started it all follows archaeologist Indiana Jones (Harrison Ford) as he tries to locate the Ark of the Covenant before the Nazis can get their hands on its mysterious mythical powers. Co-creators George Lucas and Steven Spielberg sought to recapture the spirit of old-school adventure serials from their childhood with modern technology and massive production value — and, no surprise, they pulled it off. The final product established a breathtaking period aesthetic and maintained an exhilarating pace that rivaled every action-adventure movie that came before it.

Set in 1936, Raiders begins with a legendary opening sequence in Peru in which Indy’s pursuit of an ancient golden idol pits him against rival adventurer René Belloq (Paul Freeman) and duplicitous sidekick Satipo (Alfred Molina) in a booby-trapped temple. Almost immediately, we’re treated to some of the most iconic moments in adventure film history: Indy swapping the artifact with a bag of sand, snatching his fedora as a door comes crashing down, and barely outrunning an enormous boulder.

After catching his breath enough to teach at Marshall College, Indy reconnects with his old flame Marion Ravenwood (Karen Allen) and embarks on his quest to find the Ark’s hidden resting place, lest it fall into the wrong hands. The next sub-two hours gallop along at a breakneck speed as Indy punches his way out of a burning Nepalese bar, evades adversaries in a Cairo marketplace, escapes a pit full of snakes, fights enemies under an airplane, chases a Nazi truck on the back of a horse, and avoids having his face melted off by the power of Yahweh.

Raiders owes much of its success to the electrifying, enduring performances from Ford and Allen. The former uses his signature sarcastic swagger to create a scrappy, romantic action hero who’s an exhausted perennial underdog, while the latter blends a warm, bubbly demeanor with a tough, no-nonsense attitude that makes Marion a formidable match for Indy. They each possess considerable cleverness and physical toughness that make them perfect onscreen partners, and their screwball banter ensures that all of their conversations are a blast to watch. Beneath it all is impeccable direction from Spielberg with an assist from John Williams‘ unforgettable score.

Where to watch Raiders of the Lost Ark: Disney+ and Paramount+

Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984)

© Lucasfilm Ltd. & TM. All Rights Reserved.

The second Indiana Jones film, Temple of Doom, is actually the first Indy movie chronologically — it takes place in 1935, one year before the events of Raiders of the Lost Ark. Given that their plots are barely connected, there’s no real advantage to watching Temple before Raiders, so we recommend binging the movies by order of release date. More importantly, Temple is vastly inferior to its predecessor as an introduction to Indy and as an overall film.

Nightclub singer Willie Scott (Kate Capshaw) sings a Mandarin rendition of “Anything Goes” in Temple of Doom‘s magnificent opening sequence (which foreshadows Spielberg’s future musical virtuosity in 2021’s West Side Story). Soon, there’s a tense shootout in Club Obi-Wan (a not-so-subtle nod to Lucas’ other adventure mega franchise) that unites Willie with Indy and his orphan sidekick Short Round (a 12-year-old Ke Huy Quan). During a botched escape attempt, the gang falls out of a plane and ends up in an Indian village, where they take on a mission of rescuing kidnapped children and recovering a sacred stone from a nearby palace. Along the way, they face a murderous cult, assassins, and various modes of supernatural peril.

Temple of Doom took on a darker narrative and tone than its beloved precursor, perhaps in part because of its creators’ recent personal tragedies (at the time of its production, Lucas had just gone through a divorce, and Spielberg’s previous project, Twilight Zone: The Movie, had an infamous on-set helicopter accident that resulted in three deaths). Gleefully torturing both its characters and its audiences, Temple of Doom‘s violence — featuring disembodied hearts, human sacrifice, and child slavery — prompted an outcry that directly led to the creation of the PG-13 rating.

Though all Indy movies paint with broad, uneasy strokes when it comes to cultural depictions, Temple of Doom is particularly egregious. The film’s reductive, cartoonishly negative representations of East and South Asian cultures makes it a more uncomfortable watch than the other films in the series. It isn’t without its merits, though: The action scenes are undeniably thrilling, the aforementioned musical number is dazzlingly constructed, and the sets and practical effects provide a foreboding atmosphere and a magnificent sense of scale.

Where to watch Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom: Disney+ and Paramount+

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989)


Indy’s third adventure sands down the rougher edges of the franchise, injecting more humor and heart via a focus on the hero’s relationship with his father. It’s the most lighthearted, family-friendly entry in the series — and one of the funniest movies in the filmographies of Spielberg, Lucas, and Ford.

Last Crusade starts with the earliest chronological scene in the entire series: A flashback prologue chronicling one of Indy’s teenage adventures in 1912. River Phoenix portrays the younger version of Ford as he fights a group of robbers on a circus train in Utah. The rest of Last Crusade functions as a pretty straightforward sequel to Raiders. In 1938, Indy once again goes on a quest for another biblical artifact, and yes, this one also sees him racing the Nazis to the finish line. Sallah (John Rhys-Davies) and Marcus Brody (Denholm Elliott) both join him on his journey, but Indy’s primary partner in Last Crusade is his father, Henry Jones Sr. (Sean Connery).

The elder Jones is also a professor in pursuit of the Holy Grail, and his relationship with his son is complicated — a dedicated career man, Henry was distant as a parent during Indy’s youth, and neither man fully respects the other. Over the course of their adventure, however, the two come to recognize their similarities and grow closer than ever before. Ford and Connery share a stellar chemistry that creates constant humor via incessant bickering, and also brings the most emotional catharsis of the entire series.

Though it’s not quite as tightly constructed as Raiders, Last Crusade undoubtedly earns its place in the canon of great adventure movies thanks to a multitude of strengths. The globetrotting location work and exemplary set design provide a gorgeous, expansive backdrop to every exhilarating set piece — Indy fights robbers in Monument Valley, zooms through Venice’s canals on a speedboat, escapes from a Scottish castle, infiltrates a Nazi zeppelin, battles a tank in Turkey, and explores a massive temple in Petra. The character work is also stronger than the previous two entries, shedding light on facets of Indy’s personality and psychology that hadn’t been explored before.

Where to watch Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade: Disney+ and Paramount+

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008)

David James/Lucasfilm

After the original trilogy concluded in 1989, Indy’s cinematic adventures took a nearly two-decade hiatus, though the character lived on in innumerable tie-in novels, several video games, and the TV series The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles. Ford finally put the fedora back on in 2008 for Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, the long-awaited and hotly contested fourth installment — which, despite undeniable flaws, offers a lot to love.

The film picks up 19 years after Last Crusade, beginning with a wild opening sequence that pits Indy and his companion Mac (Ray Winstone) against a squad of Soviet agents led by Irina Spalko (Cate Blanchett) in a top-secret government warehouse in Nevada. After locating a mysterious artifact, Indy barely survives a nuclear bomb test, giving way to the phrase “nuking the fridge.” From there, the hero crosses paths with Mutt Williams (Shia LaBeouf), an ambitious youngster with a surprising connection to Indy’s past. The duo then travels to Peru to meet with Indy’s friend Oxley (John Hurt) and former lover Marion Ravenwood as the team tries to outpace the Soviets in their search for a mythical city.

Kingdom of the Crystal Skull has a shaky reputation among fans because of its inconsistent special effects, random sci-fi twists, and irritating side characters. But the fourth film also anoints our protagonist with the most depth and nuance, grappling with his legacy, responsibilities, and place in the world. Since Ford is a little less physically mobile, the film outsources its action to other characters and vehicles, consequently allowing Indy to become a genuinely interesting character who plays to Ford’s mature strengths. The entire series hinges on Ford’s ability to deliver absurd mythological exposition with natural gravitas and charm, but this is the first movie that allows him to enjoy it, convincing us that Indy actually loves what he does for a living. He giddily explains ancient cultures to his companions, relishing every opportunity to flex his knowledge and advance his quest through intellect.

There are three show-stopping Spielberg sequences — Nuketown, the college motorcycle ride, and the prolonged jungle chase — that all rival the best action in the previous films, each overflowing with memorable visuals, well-timed physical comedy, and solid stunts. While the plot does admittedly suffer, the slightly more subdued treasure hunting business is still fun, stuffed with puzzles, booby traps, and mini-mysteries that invite you to immerse yourself in the gorgeously detailed sets.

Where to watch Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull: Disney+ and Paramount+

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