Adventure Movies

Why Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom Was a Prequel

July 20, 20233 Mins Read

When it comes to action-adventure films, moviegoers need to look no further than the Indiana Jones franchise starring Harrison Ford. The first film in the series, Raiders of the Lost Ark, brought the fun and excitement of pulp action adventures from the early days of film, mixed in with some swashbuckling action. However, for the second film, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, the creators wanted to take a small step back in time.

Temple of Doom has a special place in Indiana Jones timeline, taking place in 1935, one year before Raiders of the Lost Ark. The change is largely unimportant to the main series but has caused some confusion to fans who don’t watch the films back to back or simply didn’t notice upon a few rewatches. The film takes Indy on an adventure to India, where he encounters the evil villain Mola Ram and his cult. According to George Lucas, the reason why Temple of Doom is a prequel boils down to the fact that the creators didn’t want to use Nazis as the bad guys again.

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What Makes Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom Unique

Indy is stood in a mine during Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom

When the film was first released, the choice to make the movie a prequel and feature a new type of villain seemed like a standard direction for the franchise to take. At the time, fans had no idea the path the franchise would go in or the types of enemies Jones would face.

But in the decades since the Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom prequel’s release, it’s glaring how much the film stands out from the rest of the series. Out of the four films released so far, it is the only entry not to feature a military presence as the enemy, instead opting to focus on Mola Ram and the Thuggee cult. ​​​​​While future entries didn’t follow that idea, Temple of Doom‘s outlier status makes it as memorable as it is fun, born from a desire to avoid sameness.

RELATED: How Indiana Jones Survived the Nuked Fridge (and Why He Really Wouldn’t)

The Role of the Military in the Indiana Jones Franchise

A group of soldiers in green uniforms follow Indiana Jones through a warehouse

For the next entry, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, the franchise pushed the clock forward two years after Raiders, with Indy taking on Nazis once again. Because the previous entry was a prequel, The Last Crusade felt more like a traditional sequel to the first film and therefore justified the inclusion of Nazis again. The next entry in the series didn’t come until almost 20 years later, offering an equal amount of change and more of the same.

While Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull doesn’t feature Nazis, the 1950s setting of the film brings in a new threat with the Russian military. However, the Nazis have made their return as the antagonists of Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny. This just goes to show how different Temple of Doom is from every other Indiana Jones film, proving that not all franchises need a serialized narrative to succeed.

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