10 Movies That Are Clearly Inspired By The Indiana Jones Franchise

AbraxasOctober 9, 2021

There are some that would argue Raiders of the Lost Ark is one of the greatest adventure movies of all time. From its well-defined characters to its nail-biting opening sequence. Since his debut, Indiana Jones has remained in the global lexicon, spanning four movies (with a fifth movie on the way) to endless merchandise and theme park rides.

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Yet the true mark of a great film is how others are influenced by said property and infuse that style, tone, and sense of adventure into their own media. Since exploding onto the scene, many films have emulated the man with the fedora and whip, sometimes with great success. But no matter how many millions this new film has made, or the fans they have amassed, they wouldn’t be here had Indiana Jones never grabbed a torch and lit the way.

10 The Mummy Gave Audiences An Adventure To Remember

This update of the 1932 Universal Monster film was praised for its use of state-of-the-art technology and the charm of its leading man, Brenden Fraser. From the onset of the film, it’s clear that Indiana Jones was present in the mind of writer/director Stephen Sommers, as Rick O’Connell (Fraser) is a charming and no-nonsense leading man with a wit that has saved him more than once.

This popcorn flick takes the audience through the Egyptian deserts as British and American archeologists awaken a 3000-year-old mummy, Imhotep (Arnold Vosloo) who will bring about the ten plagues upon the world and obtain ultimate power. This film still holds up today, much like its predecessor Indy, as a rip-roaring adventure. Universal attempted to once again update this franchise in 2017 with Tom Cruise in the starring role, but the successor could never hold a torch to this ’90s classic.

9 National Treasure Brings Treasure Hunting Into The Modern Day

All too often, the treasure hunt movies like The Da Vinci Code or The Librarian: Quest for the Spear, usually never take place within the confines of the United States. These films usually span over unfamiliar locations, complete with a Hollywood-historic look at landmarks and their relevance to the clue needing to be solved. However, in 2004, Disney came out of the gates swinging with a delightful and perfectly executed film called National Treasure. 

The film follows Ben Gates (Nicolas Cage) as he attempts to prove that there is a vast treasure hidden within recesses of American history with clues left behind by the Knights Templar and Free Masons. With its quippy dialogue and cinematic scope on east coast locations, National Treasure belongs right up there with Indy as one of the better adventures committed to cinema.

8 Sahara Brought Back The Saturday Morning Serial Vibe

Loosely adapted for the Clive Cussler novel series, Sahara follows the adventures of Dirk Pitt (Matthew McConaughey) as he searches for a treasure deep within the legend of a fabled Civil War ship. While critics and audiences were lukewarm to this entry into the genre, the film still holds its own while reminding the audience about where it comes from.

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Sahara presents a flawed character that uses ingenuity and wit before busting out a sub-machine gun and killing everyone in sight. Even down to the feel of an old Saturday serial, which served as the basis for Indy, Sahara proves that without Indiana Jones, it would be nothing.

7 Pirates Of The Caribbean: The Curse Of The Black Pearl Gave Us A Flawed Character In Jack

In 2003, Disney launched a major summer blockbuster film, unaware of the cultural bomb that was about to explode. From its opening day to today, Pirates of the Caribbean still manages to entertain, enthrall and make audiences young and old gasp. With its strategic callbacks to the ride that it was based on and its beautiful introduction to cinema’s best character, Captain Jack SparrowPotC became a juggernaut and spawned five sequels with a sixth reportedly in development.

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Yet, it’s Sparrow’s selfish attitude and transformation into a selfless character that has audiences thinking of Indiana Jones. In Raiders, Jones’ main motivation is to find the Ark as it is the biggest archeological discovery at the time, yet by the end, Indy discovers that sometimes great power isn’t meant to be wielded by men. So too does Sparrow, through a transformation, as he puts his life on the line to save Will (Orlando Bloom) and Elizabeth (Keira Knightly) from the cursed members of the Black Pearl.

6 The Da Vinci Code Made Thoughtful Analysis Cool Again

Based on the divisive book by Dan Brown, The Da Vinci code takes the treasure-seeking aspect of Indiana Jones and morphs it into a linguist while still applying nefarious forces looking to stop our hero, Robert Langdon (Tom Hanks), from discovering a secret hidden in The Last Supper painting that would rock the foundation of Christianity.

This one plays on the smart, cool, and collected adventurer looking to solve a mystery. Langdon doesn’t wield a whip or a revolver, but what he does possess is knowledge of ancient languages and symbols that allow him to not only solve the mystery but educate his sidekick and the audience along the way.

5 Ready Player One Brought McGuffin Searching Into The Digital Age

What some might consider more Willy Wonka than Indiana JonesReady Player One was a film that was influenced by all existing pop culture. Adapted from the novel by Ernest Cline, Ready Player One tells the story of Wade Watts (Ty Sheridan) who, like everyone else in the dystopian 2045, is obsessed with OASIS. A virtual reality simulator that gives its user access to a world with endless possibilities.

When the creator of OASIS, Halliday (Mark Rylance) dies, he leaves clues within the virtual world that lead to a prize of ownership of OASIS. The film might have been heavy on the references in both the book and film versions, but the hero’s perseverance to find the truth and decipher the clues is pure Indiana Jones.

4 Romancing The Stone Gave Us Adventure With A Healthy Dose Of Romance

Imagine if Indiana Jones was less serious and was a bit more saturated in the 1980s—that is Romancing The Stone. This 1984 film follows a depressed novelist (Kathleen Turner) who is suddenly thrust into an adventure in the Colombian jungle to save her sister from treasure seekers. Along the way, the novelist will team up with a brash mercenary (Michael Douglas) who will help her not only save her sister but work together to find the priceless gem the treasure seekers want.

Romancing the Stone feels more Temple of Doom with its heavy reliance and focus on the relationship between Turner and Douglas, minus the terrifying heart-squeezing. But this delightful romp will fill that Indy void in a very satisfying way.

3 Stardust Gave Audiences A Character To Care About

Before Charlie Cox was Daredevil, he was Tristan, a young man who ventures into a realm of fairies to bring back his love, a piece of a falling star. What ensues is a swashbuckling adventure, filled with pirates, witches, magic, and a heartwarming love story.

There is a certain charm that has resonated with audiences since its debut in 2007. Much like Indy, this film balances the adventure and character development nicely, never sacrificing one for the other. However, the one thing this movie has that Indy was missing, Robert De Niro has a performance that might just be his greatest one committed to film.

2 Lara Croft: Tomb Raider Gender Swapped Indiana Jones

Long before Alicia Vikander portrayed the updated version of the character, Angelina Jolie donned the two Desert-Eagles in the 2001 film Lara Croft: Tomb Raider. While a major product of its time (just review the scene of her flipping and diving away from robots in a very Matrix-like style), this film is essentially Indiana Jones but gender-swapped.

When the devious Illuminati threaten to use the ancient Triangle of Light to control time, it will be up to Lara Croft to find the artifact first and stop the evil organization from destroying the world. Replace Nazis with Illuminati and you have a new Indy adventure.

1 The Mask Of Zorro Gave Audiences Amazing Stunt Work

A surprise hit when it first debuted, The Mask of Zorro follows a basic revenge story as the original Zorro (Anthony Hopkins) tries to get back his daughter who was stolen from him when she was an infant. To do so, Hopkins will train Antonio Banderas to don the cowl and cape and resurrect the symbol of freedom, who is also looking for revenge for the death of his brother.

Zorro draws inspiration from Indy as it uses in-camera stunts. Just how Harrison Ford would dangle off a moving tank, so too does the artful stunt team of Zorro as they fence, swing, and punch their way into the realm of memorable adventure on the silver screen.

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