Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull/Headscratchers

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  • Why does the gunpowder fly towards the magnetic skull? Gunpowder has no magnetic ingredients.
    • Indy mentions something about "the iron in the gunpowder" if I'm not mistaken. Also, from later in the film:

Indy: Crystals aren't magnetic. ((Pries a coin off the skull)
Mutt: Neither is gold.

      • He says the "metal" in the gunpowder. Gunpowder doesn't contain metal, though. It's made of charcoal, sulfur, and saltpeter. The saltpeter contains potassium, true, but it's in salt (ionic) form, not metallic form. (Claiming that saltpeter can be attracted to a magic non-magnetic-metal-magnet because it contains a metal would be like saying that water can explode because it contains hydrogen.)
        • That's black powder, which hasn't been used in any significant degree in firearms for more than a century.
      • I prefer the explanation, at least for the magnetic gold; it's very cheap 'gold'.
      • It's the Crystal Skull. A Wizard Did It.
      • Maybe he already knew it attracted gunpowder from when he studied it in the forties, and just assumed there was metal in the gunpowder- or maybe there was something else in the gunpowder that was being attracted, but it was simpler to say 'metal' than actually explain the process to the Russians.
        • In short, maybe he purposefully gave the Russians misinformation.
        • It's also a painfully selective metal attractant. Gunpowder and shotgun balls? Attracts. Gold coins? Attracts. Ceiling mounted warehouse light fixtures? Attracts. A knight's armor? Nope, easily pull that off the skull-once the gold coin told you it was there. The truck you're using to take it out of the warehouse? No problem, no apparent difficulty in taking the crate out later.
  • Why did the FBI just kinda stop chasing Indy around after the plainclothes Commies showed up?
    • Quite possibly they might have been afraid of direct conflict escalating into a full-fledged war.
      • Or at least a nasty international incident.
    • He left the country shortly after and started travelling across South America. That's way outside of the FBI's jurisdiction.
  • If the Aliens were archaeologists collecting artifacts of this planet's civilization, why did they leave everything behind / destroy everything when they went home?
    • The aliens seemed to have two goals: inform the locals and collect data. Considering they're some hive mind creature, they probably didn't need to keep the artifacts after they had been studied. Plus, one of them was missing its head for 2,000 years. At that point I'd just want to get the hell out of there and go home.
      • Those weren't artifacts, they got them when they were new. I figure they were housewarming gifts they put in the metaphorical attic. I mean, you give people stuff they want to pay you back, but you got anything they could give anyway. "Oh, a... statue. That's... Nice. We'll put it in our... treasure... room. That's it. Treasure Room.
      • That one alien lost its skull for only 500 years, there were Conquistador corpses in the pit leading to the treasure room so the explorer must have stolen the skull rather than "found it". Still, it doesn't answer why they chose to stay here after dying rather than return after successfully completing their mission... unless they didn't want their followers home to be flash flooded, but they were god-kings, they could have just told them to set up elsewhere.
  • This may be cause for some MST3K Mantra, but how did Indy survive a nuclear blast in a lead-lined refrigerator?
    • Hardware was heavy and done with several metal layers in the 50's. And lead prevents radiation poisoning.
    • What concerns me more isn't the fact that the lead would block the radiation, but more of the fact that the explosion vaporized an entire town, including a car, yet not only was the refrigerator perfectly unharmed, Indy survived being thrown hundreds of feet, entirely unharmed. Though, Rule of Cool.
    • Also take into account that in those days, most homes were even more pre-fabricated than they are now, especially in the Midwest. Also it was in a testing ground, so they would not have EVERYTHING to scale - most of the cars were probably "tin foil shells", the houses didn't have fully-functioning. They put the TVs and radios in and working as a probable test on what effects the blast had on working electronic systems...
      • But what about the radiation after the fact? Also, the fact that lead lined or not, he should have fried from the heat alone? Obviously, there isn't an explanation, but somethings just went so far, even for Indiana Jones, that it was almost verging on parody, I thought.
      • The bomb was sitting on a tower a few miles away. The damaging effects from a nuclear blast are fourfold: blast wave, thermal radiation, ionizing radiation, and residual radiation. As the blast wave is roughly hemispherical, it gets rapidly weaker the further away it travels; the town was just far enough away. It wrecked the town, but the fridge was sturdy enough to take it. Thermal radiation comes from the flash and gets weaker as the fireball dissipates; Indy was inside a fridge, inside a house, and it wasn't close enough to vaporize anything in the town, which it would have had the bomb been much closer and/or directly overhead. It only burned and melted objects exposed to the direct blast. Ionizing radiation, also mostly instant, was blocked via the lead-lined fridge. And finally, residual radiation was the reason for his scrubdown chemical shower a short while later. The most farfetched part of that scene actually is him not rolling out of the fridge severely bruised from the tumble.
        • Severely bruised? The fridge was thrown hundreds of feet. He would have broken most of his bones if he survived at all.
    • I think it's a matter of Elemental Rock-Paper-Scissors: a nuclear bomb is clearly a "Radiation" type effect, which is weak against "Lead."
    • A literal case of Fridge Logic.
    • I think everybody is overlooking the fact that this was a 1950's era refrigerator. That means the door actually latched closed when shut as opposed to the magnetic seal used in today's refers. The reason manufacturers switched over to magnetic door seals was because throughout the 50's and 60's, little kids were dying in droves when they would crawl into an abandoned refer (say ... to hide in a game of Hide and Seek) and would suffocate because there IS NO WAY TO OPEN THE DOOR FROM THE INSIDE. As a adult male, Indy wouldn't have enough room inside to be able kick the door open.
      • Maybe I'm missing something, but I assumed that's what was being referred to when someone calls fridges "deathtraps" when Indy is telling what happened. My other assumption: all that tumbling and possibly some help from the initial explosion helped to weaken or break the lock.
    • Indy drank from the Holy Grail, giving him superhuman endurance, obviously.
    • Ok, two things. First, the entire movie is meant to be an homage to 50s sci-fi films, just as the 1st three were an homage to 30s and 40s adventure serials. So, yeah, he survived an atomic explosion by riding in a refrigerator. Second, this is a universe where, if enough people believe it, it's true. It is shown that there are physical proof that Christian, Jewish and Hindu beliefs have basis in reality. Some of those beliefs contradict each other. But since enough people believe it, it's true. Now, in the 50s, people were taught to "duck and cover" during a nuclear explosion. This is essentially the same thing. You'd probably also find people surviving a plane crash as long as they have their tray table up and their seat in the full upright position.
    • This troper can remember an incident that may well have been the inspiration for it:- The destruction of Almeida. All the ammunition in the town's garrison goes up at once, shockwave levels most of the town. One soldier survives by diving into a baker's oven. Probably more sensible than a refrigerator - they were huge brick monstrosities built to be mostly heatproof. It wouldn't have protected the soldier from radiation, for which reason he was most likely very grateful this was back in Napoleonic times. I suppose the incident just got... exaggerated somewhat.
    • Always seemed more a Refuge in Audacity (with a bit of Rule of Funny) rather than Rule of Cool. There's a nuclear bomb going off close enough to vaporize the (admittedly cheap) town, there was fresh food in the fridge (if they'd cheaped out on building the town food would've gone first except in one or two test refrigerators), and the shock wave shredded the car that the Russians were escaping in yet propelled Indy's refrigerator for a quarter mile before he lands and the door falls open, revealing a bruised Indy to a very startled prairie dog. How could that be anything but an intentional play for laughs?
      • There's a theory on the WMG page (I think) that addresses this. In the Indiana Jones universe All Myths Are True, which explains why the alien in Area 51 looked like the classic grey-skinned alien that came before the Little Green Men, and why the plots of all the movies thus far are even possible to complete. In the public consciousness of the time, an atom bomb was MUCH less potent than we know today. They believed things like "Duck and Cover" would save people's lives in the event of a detonation, so therefore, encasing yourself in lead - like inside a fridge - would end with Indy falling out safely.
    • Not to mention that back then nukes (if indeed the bomb was a nuke, and not a much weaker atomic bomb) were MUCH weaker than they are now, and refrigerators were much sturdier, It's not uncommon for 1950's era iceboxes to run perfectly fine even today and people even collect them as they would cars. Futhermore it's a friggin' movie in a series that is pretty much built upon Ruins for Ruins Sake, Durable Deathtraps, and All Myths Are True.
      • "Atomic Bomb" is simply an outdated, technically incorrect term for a nuclear bomb. In the 1950's, anyone except a nuclear physicist (and maybe even them) would freely use the term "A-Bomb" to refer to a nuke.
      • Furthermore, the thermonuclear weapons built in the 1950's were actually much more powerful than the ones currently in our arsenal. The higher yield was used to compensate for a much less precise guidance system (ensuring the target's destruction at the range you can guarantee hitting within).
  • If the box is highly magnetic, and can make gunpowder fly, how come everything else in the warehouse that's metallic isn't all stuck to it?
    • It's blocked by the special anti-magnetic wood the crates are made of.
    • Also, gunpowder is, well, powder. It's really light. Everything else metal in the room was much heavier, and thus wouldn't be pulled as easily.
      • Alright, then why didn't the bullets fired get suddenly magnetized towards it? Or the guns for that matter?
        • The guns did get magnetized towards it when they were closer. As for the bullets, they're moving, and we never see them after they hit their targets.
      • Why did it not go straight for the crate? It makes no sense that it would float up and then suddenly turn to go toward the crate.voiding solid objects, too, as though it was made smart and tried to go toward it, instead of direct attraction.
  • There was a scene when Indy was put on university leave after the FBI searched the college. There, the dean talks about the horrors of McCarthyism, saying stuff like "...I hardly recognize this country anymore. The government has got us seeing communists in our soup." In most Cold War milieux, that would be justifiable. But in this universe, the Soviets murdered dozens of Americans on American soil. Isn't the dean's response a bit... dumb? (And if something like that did happen, I will guarantee that Moscow would be a glass slag pit in a day.)
    • Wait, what? When did that happen? Unless you're talking about the Area 51 events, which the American government would quickly and violently move to suppress.
    • God, yes. Emphasising the Communist threat is one thing. Revealing that Soviet special forces are roaming the midwest, murdering American soldiers and breaking into ultra-secret US government facilities is quite another.
    • Two words: Mnogo Nukes. Three more: Perceived "bomber gap".
  • The Jones crew has a jeep with a turret on it. As the villainess proved, the turret was fully loaded and able to fire. Why did Mutt waste time sword fighting her? Why not just shoot her?
    • Haven't you learned from the fridge scene? The movie runs off the freaking Rule of Cool.
    • Who would guarantee Mutt could shoot properly while the vehicle was moving fast, he was trying to keep hold of a bag, and a crazy lady with a sword was after him?
      • He managed to fight pretty well with a sword under those conditions. Is a gun that much harder to use?
      • There is no indication that Mutt even knew how to use a gun, much less military hardware. Also, Spalko was coming for them right then, he didn't have time to man it. So instead of wasting time by trying to figure out a weapon he had never seen and knew nothing about, he decided to fight with a weapon he'd spent time formally training with, and was apparently pretty damn good with as well. Seems like a smart move to me.
      • Note as well that turrets aren't built like a weapon you carry. There's no real trigger (it's more of a button usually). And since they're bigger and more powerful, they have a stronger recoil; the mount helps but it's still going to throw your aim off if you're not trained to shoot it properly.
    • Isn't there a chance he could have hit Ox with the gun?
  • How did the Conquistadores get the skull in the first place? There are Conquistadore bodies at the bottom of the entrance to the alien temple, but they couldn't just walk in and rip the skull off one of the skeletons, could they? Was the skull always lost somewhere in the temple, and the super hive mind aliens just couldn't get up and get it?
  • In fact, how did the Conquistadores get into the temple? If they opened it using the mechanism of the golden key, how did the natives reset it later?
    • And how, furthermore, did the baddies get into the temple after Indy and his crew had already done that whole 'golden key' bit?
  • Why, at the end of the movie, did Indy not only get his job back, but get made Assistant Dean? That would require triumphant vindication, and/or some monumental discovery, yet it didn't seem that his group ended up with any evidence whatsoever of what happened to them. What, did the FBI just take his word that he defeated the evil Communist threat and saved the world from Soviet mind domination?
    • Nobody ever saw Spalko again. That's good enough for them.
      • Indy probably delivered the alien corpse the Soviets stole back to the US government in exchange for silence and getting his job back.
      • Since Spalko is an intelligence agent, is it really surprising that no one saw her again? It's not like she's a world famous figure.
    • It's strongly implied that Indy has friends in the government, including the intelligence services. Some people are paranoid enough to see him as a possible communist spy, but that doesn't mean everyone is. Maybe some time after he left for South America, the CIA had a word with the FBI and got them to leave him alone. Or Eisenhower talked the McCarthyists into calling off the 'destroy his career' plan. Or something like that.
    • Or maybe the exposé on McCarthy had been televised while Jones was in South America.
      • The expose was in 1954, Crystal Skull takes place in 1957. If anything there should have been no mention of McCarthy at all as he had long since fallen out of grace with the US government.
    • Same reason that Indy and Marion get married, and there's almost a Passing the Torch moment with Mutt: closure. Nuff said.
  • The plot of Crystal Skull reminds me heavily of the 1996 futuristic detective PC game The Pandora Directive. The whole Aztec/alien combo is just a little bit too unusual not to raise questions in the mind of this troper.
  • In the scene where they're being taken through the Amazon in the back of a van, Shia tosses Indy a knife to cut his ropes with. Indy works the Knife down to his hands and cuts the ropes. Then he looks at Shia who asks if he got the ropes cut. We hear a tearing sound and they both look at each other. Shia says "Oh shit," and then Indy proceeds to get up and cut the rest of them loose. This really confuses me. What was the tearing sound? What went wrong to prompt an "Oh shit?" It's followed directly by Indy getting up and cutting everyone loose with no problems.
    • IIRC, it was because something bad was about to happen outside the van, ie, it was nothing to do with the ropes. Indy was hurrying up to untie everyone else before the disaster happened. I can't remember what happened, though. I'll have to watch that scene again.
      • I've just seen that scene, and it still makes no sense. Maybe Indy cut his jacket by accident?
      • I assumed it was Mutt cutting his underwear or something like that. Possibly, there's a deleted scene that explains it?
  • How come people are always quick to decry the Fridge Nuking scene, when in fact the scene before it made even less sense, where Indy escapes the Russians with the rocket powered prototype... jet... thing. What was the point of that device?! I have a theory that people were so weirded out by that scene that they don't even remember it and subconsciously blame the fridge nuke instead.
  • What did the Soviets need the alien corpse from the government warehouse for? They go through a great deal of trouble and risk, kidnapping Indy and assaulting U.S. military property, and there never seems to be a solid reason given for why they are doing this exactly.
    • Spalko mentions that, unlike the specimen the Soviets possessed, this one had a skeleton of pure chrystal. They probably wanted it for research purposes. Maybe they even thought it could be used instead of the skull Indy found, only to learn that it wouldn't work, or just discarded it in favour of the right one once they had aquired it.
  • The most obvious and irritating one from Crystal Skull. If the aliens cared about knowledge, and spent millennia collecting so many artefacts, why did they fucking destroy everything when they left?
    • Notice how everything was sucked into the structure. They weren't destroying everything, they were taking it with them.
  • Going back to the Bomb Testing... the Bomb-Tower is located in the exact same mountain ridge and from the same vantage point that Indy first noticed the town from. Which makes you wonder why he didn't notice it?
    • Maybe he didn't realize what it was at first?
  • There are mentions of Indy being an officer in the military and being earlier on classified missions abroad. Excuse me, but where did that all come from? In the preceding movies he was always clearly acting without any kind of sanction from the U.S. government. In the Young Indiana Jones Chronicles he did fight in the first World War, but just as a footsoldier.
    • During World War II. They say as much in the movie. The first three films all take place before the US officially joined the war. And no, in the preceding movies he wasn't always without any sanction from the US--remember that it's a pair of US Government officials that come to him in Raiders to set him on the task in the first place.
      • Fair point about the G-men in the first film. However, the timing is not what I was questioning. Indy has consistently shown strong dislike for government authorities. I suppose his experiences in the First World War goes a long way towards explaining that, and secreting away an important piece of human history like the Ark of the Covenant probably did not help any. Working directly under the military doing secret missions seems out of character.
      • I think it's safe to say that Indy hates the Nazis more than he dislikes his own government. And given his obvious abilities, particularly when it comes to acting against the Nazis, he wouldn't be someone the US Military would use on the front lines. They'd definitely want him for special missions.