Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.

Mutt Williams: You're a...teacher?
Indiana Jones: Part time.

The fourth film in the Indiana Jones series, released in 2008.

Kingdom of the Crystal Skull is set 19 years after the previous installment, during the Cold War, and begins with Indiana and his colleague, George 'Mac' McHale (Ray Winstone) being captured by Russian soldiers seeking a powerful artifact that the U.S. government is holding. Although the Russians, led by Irina Spalko (Cate Blanchett) obtain the artifact (a Crystal Skull of unknown origin), Indy manages to escape after a harrowing experience at a nuclear testing site in Nevada.

However, the FBI accuse Indy of being a collaborator with the Russians, and he is even forced from his long-term teaching career due to the allegations. However, Indy quickly meets a leather-jacket wearing young man named "Mutt" Williams (Shia LeBeouf), who convinces Jones to go with him to South America and help him find an old friend.

Indy and Mutt's journey eventually lead them to reunite with Indy's old lover, Marion Ravenwood (Karen Allen), who had also been kidnapped by the Russians, and Professor Oxley (John Hurt), Jones' close associate who discovered the artifact and went slightly insane as a result. Now reunited with Marion, Indy decides to solve the mystery of the skull, which could have disastrous consequences.

Kingdom of the Crystal Skull was finally put into production after having various ideas floated around in the 1990's. The film took inspiration from the pulp science fiction stories of the 1950's, and was set during the Cold War. The film also featured a score by John Williams and creature effects by Stan Winston (in one of his last projects).

The film received mostly positive reviews from critics, and earned $786 million from the worldwide box office. The movie also received criticism for its supernatural creature-influenced plot and an infamous scene where Indy uses a lead-lined refrigerator to escape a nuclear blast.

A fifth film is rumored to be in the works, although details are currently unknown.

Tropes used in Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull include:
  • Above the Ruins: The above Akator ending.
  • Action Duo: Indy and Mutt Williams.
  • Advanced Ancient Acropolis: Akator.
  • Affably Evil: Irina Spalko.
  • Amphibious Automobile: The so-called "Ducks" are actually scaled-up replicas of the Ford GPA/Soviet GAZ 46 constructed on modern jeep chassis. Replicas had to be used as the WWII originals are actually quite small compared to modern jeeps — small enough that a person standing on top of one could easily flip it over, making them too small for the fencing scenes. The misidentification as "ducks" makes perfect sense story wise as most people (including Dr. Jones, apparently) are not military vehicle historians.
  • Ancient Astronauts: The titular "kingdom" of aliens are referenced as such, although it is never elaborated upon.
  • Arbitrary Skepticism: Indy dismisses the Crystal Skull as "just a story". Like the Holy Grail and the Ark of the Covenant, right? His skeptical attitude toward the Ark is also bit odd considering that he'd already been exposed to genuine supernatural phenomena in Temple of Doom, but that's more of a continuity issue.
  • Area 51: It turns out that this (here called "Hangar 51") is where the U.S. government stores most of the dangerous ancient phlebotinum that Indy finds. And Indiana Jones himselfwas called in to help investigate the Roswell Incident.
  • Bar Brawl: Indy orders Mutt to punch a man, instigating a brawl in the Malt Shop so they can escape.
  • Be Careful What You Wish For: Indiana cast this literal Foreshadow when Spalko is exposing her domination plans.
  • Big Bad: Irina Spalko.
  • Bombproof Appliance: A lead-lined fridge is used to survive a nuclear bomb blast.
  • Bond Creatures: The alien tries this with Spalko after she wishes to absorb their information. The alien realizes she'll use the information for evil purposes, and proceeds to burn her mind.
  • Bowdlerise: In the Russian dub, all mentions of "Russians" and "Russia" were replaced with "Communists" and "USSR". However, Russian names and backgrounds of the villains were kept intact, thereby (inadvertently) making the film more accurate - Soviet intelligence personnel (whom are the only ones portrayed in the film) came from multiple republics, not just Russia, even in this time period, like L. Beria, who as interior minister before the film's setting. They would certainly be party members or Soviet citizens.
  • The Brute: Dovchenko.
  • Bus Crash: It's stated that Henry Jones Sr. passed away sometime between Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade and Crystal Skull. This is because Sean Connery was offered a cameo role, but didn't want to come out of retirement. The same scene reveals Marcus Brody died shortly afterward, because Denholm Elliot had died shortly after making the third film.
  • Call Back:
    • The establishing shots of Marshall College (when Indy returns after being debriefed by the FBI) are replicated from the same shots seen at the beginning of Raiders of the Lost Ark, down to the music, the passing car and a shot of the dean walking into the classroom where Indy is teaching.
    • The music heard during the warehouse escape sequence is the exact same piece used during the escape from the Hovitos in Raiders.
    • During the graveyard sequence, a guard shoots a poisoned dart at Mutt that sticks in a shovel, much like the scene in Raiders where Indy's torch is hit by a dart as he's attempting to reach the golden idol.
    • The scene where Indy, Marion and Mutt argue about personal issues before taking out a guard is identical to a similar scene in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade where Indy and Henry argue about their personal issues before taking out a pair of guards.
    • Indy gets angry at Mutt when he realizes he brought him Oxley's note with him, just like how in Last Crusade, his father was angry when he realized Indy brought the grail diary with him.
    • The Joneses performing a motorcycle with sidecar escape again.
  • The Cameo: Along with the one in Continuity Nod below, Moses' staff from The Ten Commandments is seen at the hangar.
  • Canon Immigrant: Partial example. The Russians first interfered with Indy in one of the games before they were used for Crystal Skull.
  • Casual Danger Dialog: Chasen Indiana pauses to give scholarly advice to a student after his sidecar crashed through the college library. Bonus points for the obscure Stealth Pun; the advice given while being hotly pursued by a couple of communist mooks is to read Vere Gordon Childe, a passionate and well-known Marxist.
  • Character Aged with the Actor: Lampshaded and part of the new EstablishingCharacterMoments needed after the Sequel Gap. E.g Indiana fails one of his whip-antics.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Mutt's knife.
  • Chekhov's Skill: Early on, Mutt establishes that he learned the art of fencing before dropping out of school. This comes in handy later when he discovers a pair of swords in the back of the group's escape vehicle during the forest chase scene, and uses one to spar with Spalko as the cars race through the forest.
  • City of Gold: Akator is the local name for the mythical lost city El Dorado.
  • Colonel Badass:
    • We learn Indy was made a Colonel in the OSS during World War II.
    • Colonel Dr. Irina Spalko.
  • Continuity Nod:
    • The Ark of the Covenant is revealed as Indy exits the warehouse after the truck chase sequence.
    • Indy mentions to Mutt that he ran away from home and joined Pancho Villa during the Mexican Revolution when he was a teenager. This happened in the pilot episode of The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles.
    • At one point, Indy tells Mutt that his plan to distract the Russians at the campsite is "intolerable", just like Henry Jones said several times to Indy in the previous film.
    • Indy and Mutt have a conversation at a malt shop. In Last Crusade, Indy says the last time he and Henry Sr. had a drink together, it was (presumably) at a malt shop, as Indy says "I had a milkshake". This becomes more apparent after Indy and Mutt learn that they're, respectively, father and son.
    • In The Last Crusade Indiana teaches that seventy percent of all archaeology is done in the library. By 1957 his thinking has evolved and it's more in touch with his actions; he remarks that a good archeologist is the one who gets out of the library and does field work.
  • Dangerously Genre Savvy: When Indy is playing chicken in the warehouse Car Chase.

"Don't get too clever Boris. You don't know him...YOU DON'T KNOW HIM!"

  • Dark Action Girl: Irina Spalko.
  • Death by Materialism: Mac, whose need to get as much gold and jewelery as possible during the temple collapse leads to him being unable to run as quickly when the ground starts collapsing.
  • Decontamination Chamber: Radiation scrub-down right after nuking the fridge.
  • Diner Brawl: Indy and Mutt start a brawl in a diner in order to get away from the KGB.
  • Dirty Communists: The bad guys of the film. Spalko actually states that her obsession with it is due to the aliens possessing a Hive Mind. Just as Belloq desired the Ark of the Covenant because it is "a radio for speaking to God", Spalko wants to find the Kingdom for a Commie Assimilation Plot.
  • Double Entendre: Irina to Mutt: "You fight like a young man; eager to begin, quick to finish!"
  • The Dragon: Antonin Dovchenko.
  • Dramatic Alien VTOL: The pyramid doubles as an alien ship.
  • Dressing as the Enemy: How the Russians arrive at the base checkpoint.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: After two sequels and an offscreen failed relationship, Indy and Marion are finally married at the end.
  • Eldritch Abomination: If the book is to be believed, the Aliens.
  • Establishing Character Moment: Lest anyone thought Indy lost his edge since Last Crusade, we're immediately proven wrong:

Dovchenko: You recognize building, yes?
Indy: (deadpan) Drop dead.
(Dovchenko strikes Indy)
Indy: I'm sorry, I meant "Drop dead, comrade."

Mutt: (regarding elongated skulls on skeletons) Why are they like that?
Indy: Incans would bind the heads of their infants with rope.
Mutt: (horrified) Why would they do that?
Indy: To honor the gods.
Mutt: No! No! God's head does not look like that!
Indy: That depends on who your god is.

  • How Unscientific: Inverted, as the first three films feature magical artifacts, and then Crystal Skull features interdimensional beings, suddenly becoming "How Scientific!"
  • I Just Shot Marvin in the Face: When told to drop his gun, Indy (purposely) manages to shoot one of the communists in the foot when it hits the floor.
  • I Know Karate: Subverted. After Mutt grabs the titular cranium, Spalko busts out previous unseen and unmentioned martial arts moves -- and sucks at it. At most, it seems like it's annoying Mutt.
  • Inevitable Waterfall: Three of them. One after another.
  • Karmic Death:
    • Irina Spalko's need for knowledge ends up being her downfall when the alien reads her mind and judges that she would use the information for evil, before burning her alive from the inside-out.
    • Early on, Mac turns against Indy while claiming he's a "capitalist". This turns out to be his downfall, as he dies when his love of material goods makes him too slow to escape the collapsing temple.
  • Kleptomaniac Hero / Grave Robbing: Subverted, Indiana is about to keep an ancient knife but a severe look by Mutt makes him put it back.
  • Last Words / Facing the Bullets One-Liner: Parodied hard.

Spalko: No defiant last words, Dr Jones?
Indy: I like Ike.
Dovchenko: Put down gun.

  • Late Arrival Spoiler: In the film, Marion's reveal a third of the way through is meant to take Jones (and the audience) by surprise. Of course, that didn't stop Paramount from including the character on the official poster for the film and heavily publicizing Karen Allen's involvement with the project.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: At least twice during the scene with the ants, an ant is squished and the blood that shoots out lands on the camera.
  • Like Father, Like Son: A central motif of the movie.
  • Logo Joke: Cutting from the Paramount mountain to a prairie dog mound.
  • Luke, You Are My Father: Mutt. Oddly enough, early promotional materials claimed that the film would feature Indiana Jones and son on an adventure. This was retconned into Mutt being a young friend just so they could try and surprise audiences during the film.
  • Made of Iron: Despite being older, Indy endures more punishment than ever before. He flies backwards into a truck and crashes through the windshield, survives inside a lead-lined fridge when it's tossed end-over-end out of the blast zone and tries to beat The Dragon (who's seemingly larger than he is) while getting punched repeatedly. The rest of the cast (especially Oxley) exhibit this when they survive the trip over three waterfall drops with nothing more than shaken nerves.
  • Malt Shop
  • Mayincatec: A Maya-style temple and Ancient Astronauts giving the Maya their technology.
  • Meaningful Name: "Mutt" Williams' nickname is an early hint that he's related to Indiana, who took his own nickname from his dog's name.
  • Mind Rape: The crystal skull aliens killed the villainess with knowledge.
    • And tearing her a new hole in spacetime.
  • "Mister Sandman" Sequence: Right at the start; defiant youngsters on the road taunting other drivers, with Elvis' "Hound Dog" as the soundtrack.
  • The Mole: Mac: "I'm a capitalist. And they pay."
  • Mood Dissonance: In the Nevada bomb testing scene, the mood quickly goes from comical (Indy stumbles over mannequins and falls over a bicycle placed on the road) to disturbing (the nuclear blast countdown and Indy's reaction to it).
  • Mother Russia Makes You Strong: The Giant Mook.
  • Ms. Fanservice: Irina Spalko.
  • My Skull Runneth Over: The climax.
  • Never Bring a Knife to a Gun Fight: After-the-fact advice given to Mutt by Indiana.
  • Noodle Incident: What Indiana did as an OSS intelligence officer During the War implies the existence of a full noodle warehouse. Many medal-worthy actions are alluded to and a Berlin cover mission is invoked by Mac. Plus his involvement in the Roswell Incident.
  • Obfuscating Disability: Indiana openly asks Oxley --surrounded by Russians-- if he is faking it.
  • Oh Crap: The whole group of heroes when the truck they're driving goes over a waterfall. Then it happens again as they realize it's not just one, but three sequential waterfalls.
  • Outrun the Fireball: Subverted Trope -- the bad guys try this, and get nuked.
  • Painted-On Pants: Irina Spalko. For the most part, her whole outfit is just tight enough to have a fanservice feel to it, but there are moments where her pants look painted-on tight, like when she crushes a huge ant with her knees.
    • Played straight with Marion.
  • Passing the Torch: Subverted Trope. At the end of the film, a gust of wind blows Indy's hat to Mutt's feet, the idea being that Indy is going to retire from archaeology and Mutt is gonna take his place. But as Mutt is about to put the hat on, Indy scoops it out of his hands and puts it on; Indy's never gonna quit looking for treasures.
  • The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything: Lampshaded:

Mutt: (incredulously) You're a teacher?
Indy: Part-time.

  • Punctuated! For! Emphasis!:
  • Quicksand Sucks: Indy and Marion get caught in it, although Indy explains that it's actually "dry sand". It's also when Marion tells Indy Mutt is his son. Truth in Television though as very dry fine sand is actually very fluid. It's only when wet or rough that sand will stick.
  • Reality Ensues: The first clue that the Crystal Skull is no ordinary magnet is the Mutt's reminder that gold wouldn't stick to one.
  • Red Scare: Irina Spalko and the Russians.
  • Secret Legacy: Henry Jones III has at least a passing interest in archaeology as well, although part of that seems to be that his mother likes hanging around with archaeologists since her father was one as well.
  • Sequel Gap: Both in-universe and in real life, 19 years have passed between the movies.
  • Shaped Like Itself "Their treasure was knowledge. Knowledge was their treasure."
  • Shout-Out:
  • Slow Electricity: In the warehouse scene, the lights turn on one at a time.
  • Smoldering Shoes
  • Smug Snake: Mac.
  • Special Effects Evolution
  • Suspiciously Similar Substitute: Jim Broadbent's character stands in for Marcus Brody.
  • Take My Hand: Subverted. Indy tries this with his whip to save Mac during the final escape sequence, but Mac tells him he'll be alright and lets go, getting sucked into the portal in the process.
  • That Russian Squat Dance: Done by Russian soldiers around a campfire.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Marian has graduated from throwing the occasional punch at her captors to driving an amphibious transport off a cliff and onto a tree, then letting the tree snap back and smack into the cliff-climbing Mooks behind her.
    • She was pretty badass in Raiders, though. She shot that guy in her bar, and she took out a whole truck full of soldiers with an aircraft mounted machine gun.
  • Touched by Vorlons: Oxley and Irina. The latter's brain painfully overloads from the aliens granting her wish - knowledge of everything.
  • Trilogy Creep: The Last Crusade ends with Indy & co. Riding Into the Sunset because Spielberg thought it would the end. He later admits in the DVD interviews for Crystal Skull that he initially had no interest in reviving the franchise until he was convinced by George Lucas to add an additional installment.
  • Under the Truck: The motorcycle goes under a few library desks.
  • Unusually Uninteresting Sight: Indy gets involved in a motorcycle chase that crashes into the library of the school he works at. One student only notices this in the context of "hey, there's the professor, let's ask him about that question on the homework".
  • Violently Protective Girlfriend: When Indy tells Mutt to start a fight by punching a random guy, the first person to hit Mutt back is the victim's girlfriend.
  • Wilhelm Scream: By a student with glasses when Indy and Mutt crash through the library on a motorcycle.