Movies | September 15, 2021 4:54 pm

Let Phoebe Waller-Bridge Be the New Indiana Jones, You Cowards

The "Fleabag" star is rumored to be taking over for Harrison Ford after "Indiana Jones 5"

Phoebe Waller-Bridge, who's rumored to be the next Indiana Jones, in a black dress at the SAG Awards
Phoebe Waller-Bridge is rumored to be the next Indiana Jones
Getty Images

Harrison Ford is set to don his iconic fedora one last time when Indiana Jones 5 comes out next July, but if the rumors are true, he could soon be replaced by one of his costars. The Daily Mail reported earlier this week that Phoebe Waller-Bridge could replace Ford as the franchise’s lead, stepping into the role as a female version of the famed professor of archeology.

The Fleabag star is set to star opposite Ford in Indiana Jones 5, though the exact nature of her role in that film has not been officially divulged yet. The Daily Mail, however, suggests that she plays Jones’ assistant. Kathleen Kennedy, the producer behind the Indiana Jones movies confirmed at last year’s Disney Investors Day event that the fifth installment would “conclude this iconic character’s journey,” but the publication notes that she’s “keen to make big, bold changes” to the franchise, including switching the lead character’s gender.

Nothing’s been confirmed or announced yet, but The Daily Mail cites an anonymous source who says, “The gossip on the set is that [Waller-Bridge’s] character will slot into the leading role.”

There will likely be purists outraged at the idea of anyone who isn’t Ford playing Indiana Jones, but allowing Waller-Bridge to take up the mantle couldn’t be a better idea. By the time Indiana Jones 5 comes out next year, Ford will be 80 years old, and no matter how spry he remains, it’s just not feasible for someone of that age to continue fronting an action-adventure series where he’s cracking whips and fighting Nazis. (For comparison’s sake, Sean Connery was just 59 when he played Indy’s father in Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade.) Rather than have the franchise retire with Ford, why not follow the lead of another massively popular, long-running series and simply replace him? We’re currently on our seventh James Bond; why should anyone bristle at a second Indiana Jones?

Waller-Bridge is the perfect choice to step into the iconic role, for a number of reasons. For one, she’s already proven herself with other legacy action franchises, playing a droid in Solo: A Star Wars Story and serving as a screenwriter on the forthcoming Bond film No Time to Die. She’s got the charisma to seamlessly parlay her TV success into Hollywood blockbuster appeal, and as anyone who’s seen Fleabag already knows, her sardonic wit makes her a natural fit for portraying the wry Dr. Jones. Casting her also brings some much-needed relevancy to the long-running franchise, freshening it up by bringing on someone whose star is still rising rather than relying on someone in the twilight of their career and hopefully attracting a younger audience.

And a female Indiana Jones would be a powerful step towards correcting some of the more unsavory aspects of the character. We’ve come a long way in the 40 years since Raiders of the Lost Ark, and grown men grooming and engaging in sexual relationships with underage teen girls is no longer socially acceptable. In recent years, fans have been forced to reconsider Jones’ past relationship with his love interest Marion — which the film establishes took place when he was 26 and she was just 16. That’s bad enough, but it could have been even worse; at one point, George Lucas, Steven Spielberg and Lawrence Kasdan considered making Marion as young as 11 and Jones as old as 42 at the time of their physical encounter. (You can read the vile transcript of the men batting around ideas about Jones’ pedophilia here.) Karen Allen, who played Marion, also recently recalled how her character was supposed to “seduce” her way out of a Nazi camp.

Allen ultimately got the scene changed, but she pointed out the way that her character was often mistreated and mishandled. “There were moments where this wonderful, bright, intelligent, talented boys’ club that had written the script, had, I thought, left her in the lurch in certain moments throughout the story,” she said. “They created this very resourceful, very independent, very strong woman and then sometimes they would, whether it was for comic effect or whether it was unconscious, whatever it was, it felt sometimes like there were moments in which she did become a true damsel in distress.”

Making Indiana Jones a woman would right some of these historical wrongs. Representation matters, and we deserve to see an accomplished female academic kicking ass, getting her hands dirty, delivering quippy one-liners and flirting with hot dudes (or women!) onscreen. For far too long, women have been told they have to fit into a certain box; they can either be pretty or scholarly or sporty, but never all three at once. Allowing Waller-Bridge to step into the role of Indiana Jones would signal to little girls everywhere that they too can go on adventures and become an action hero without having to sacrifice a part of themselves. They can be cool and funny and smart and sexy and strong. We’re long overdue for having a multifaceted female character at the heart of an action franchise, and having Waller-Bridge take over for Ford isn’t just an inspired choice — it’s a no-brainer.