Exploring the Flawed and Ugly Character of One of Cinema’s Most Popular Heroes
There’s a scene in “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade” (1989) that captures the essence of the Indiana Jones’ character.
He has just arrived in Venice with University Provost Marcus Brody. Dr. Elsa Schneider, an Austrian professor and gorgeous blond, meets them at the docks. Jones immediately become smitten and unmercifully flirts with her (even stealing a flower to put in her lapel).
“You have your father’s eyes,” she tells him.
“And my mother’s ears. The rest belongs to you,” he tells less than 10 seconds after they meet.
Indiana’s aggressive pursuit gets to the point where Brody actually asks for him to stop. It’s almost embarrassing how Jones is unable to control his sexual desire – even in front of his boss and friend.
This is the essence of a man with no control over his emotions, especially as they pertain toward women. He’s a man-child unable – and unwilling – to put parameters around his urges. There’s no question that Indiana Jones is a courageous and noble adventurer, but there’s also ample evidence from the four Indiana Jones films that he’s an angry misogynist prone to sexual harassment and unprovoked outbursts of violence toward the women he is sexually attracted to.
In fact, Indiana displays at least six of the 10 warning signs of a man who is an abuser, according to Seeing It and Stopping It, an organization for the prevention of violence against women and children.
The pattern appears to be of a man who relentlessly pursues a woman he finds attractive and then, when he finally captures their hearts, abandons them. Obviously, he has serious issues with commitment – especially with strong, independent women. In the “Last Crusade” Indiana ends up in a hotel room with Elsa and his eyes rejoice as she shuts the door to his room behind her. He grabs her roughly by the shoulders as she turns from him and he forcibly kisses her.
“How dare you kiss me!” she shouts. But then roughly returns the kiss.
Indiana pushes her away. “Leave me alone! I don’t like fast women.”
They end up in bed together.
A similar – pseudo rape scene – happens in “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom” (1984). Jones and Willie Scott are guests in an Indian palace – staying in rooms across the hall from one another. Stalking into each other’s rooms, the two have a heated argument about sexual attraction.
“You know what your problem is, Princess?” Jones shouts. “You’re too used to getting your own way!”
“And you’re too proud to admit that you’re crazy about me, Dr. Jones!” she shouts back.
“If you want me Willie, you know where to find me.”
“Five minutes!” she says. “You’ll be back over her in five minutes!”
“I’ll be asleep in five minutes!”
“Five,” she screams after him after he stalks out of her room. “You know it! And I know it!”
Clearly, Jones has problems maintaining normal relationships with women. He’s sexually attracted to anger and fighting with women. Rather than tenderness, Jones resorts to aggression and abusive behavior. He is fond of diminishing them with sexist labels such as princess, doll, and sweetheart. And who can forget the scene in “Raiders of the Lost Ark” (1981) when Marion Ravenwood sees Indiana for the first time since their relationship ended in disaster.
She greets him with a punch to the face and screams: “I’ve learned to hate you in the last 10 years!”
We learn that Indiana seduced Marion, the young daughter of his mentor. “I was a child,” Marion says. “I was in love. It was wrong and you knew it.”
To Indiana, however, it was nothing but another sexual conquest. Another woman he relentlessly pursued and then dumped when she got too close.
“You knew what your were doing,” he tells Marion.
This callous behavior symbolizes a man who doesn’t like women very much. We know his father was an emotionally detached widower with a tendency to bully. We also know his mother died early in his life (before the age of 13). Clearly, Indiana has trouble relating to women outside of their role as sex objects.
In “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull” (2008), it is revealed that Indiana dumped Marion again (after they fell in love for a second time in “Raiders”) and abandoned her a week before their planned wedding. Even worse, she was so emotional damaged by the rejection that she didn’t tell him she was pregnant with his son and ended up raising the boy alone.
When Indiana and Marion encounter each other for the first time in “Crystal Skull,” they get into a heated shouting match – blaming each other for the break-up. Indiana lamely claims: “I didn’t want to hurt you” as an excuse for dumping her.
Maybe there’s a reason why Indiana’s favorite weapon is a whip.
He’s smart, brave, strong, and wily, but let’s face the facts. Nobody would want Indiana Jones dating their sister.