It has been 35 years to the day that Raiders of the Lost Ark came out, and as such I think it is time that we finally clear up a debate that has lasted for almost as many years as the film has been out. That question:
Was Indiana Jones Important To The Story?
While the debate has raged between fans for years, it has gotten a lot more fierce since it was brought up in an episode of The Big Bang Theory by Amy Farrah-Fowler. Check out the video below for how the genius physicists deal with this dilemma:
So, was Indiana Jones necessary to the story at all? Well first let us check out the reasons people say that he wasn't important:
The Nazis Were Defeated By The Ark, Not Him!
Yes. You see, the Nazis — having gotten the ark of the covenant — brought the ark to the island, opened it, and all died. If Indy hadn't been there, then they would have gotten the ark, brought it to the island, and died. In no way did he affect their decision to open the ark on that island. In fact, taking the detour to the island may not have happened if they hadn't been chasing the boat Indy and Marion were on, and therefore they may have gotten all the way to Germany and opened it there, killing Hitler and a much larger number of the Nazis. Wouldn't that have been better? Now I know what you're thinking:
Would They Have Found The Ark Without Indy?
After all, Indy was the one who did everything right while the Nazis were "digging in the wrong place!" However, without Indy the Nazis would have gotten the real headpiece from the staff of Ra off of Marion, and then they would have been digging in the right place the entire time!
Now, this is making poor Indy seem like he was useless, and we can't let that just lie there, so it's time to defend his part in this adventure!
Belloq Was An Idiot!
Belloq admitted himself when we first see him in the Peruvian jungle that he really just follows Indiana around and attempts to steal the artifacts he finds. Would the Nazis have had any clue where to look if Belloq didn't have such knowledge of Indy and his past, including Abner Ravenwood? And even if they had, isn't it likely that they only went looking for the real headpiece in Nepal because Indy led them there?
And then aside from that:
Indy Saved Marion's Life!
Even if the Nazis had gotten to Marion without Indy being around, and had gotten the headpiece off her, then they would have killed her like they intended to do to both her and Indy in the film. After that, Indy continued to keep her alive throughout the film, so even if you try to say that he didn't affect the outcome of the ark, he still saved her. And besides, he kind of did affect the outcome of the ark, as the guys from The Big Bang Theory said:
Indy Brought The Ark Back To America!
If Indy hadn't been there, everyone on the island would have died. Eventually, the Nazis probably would have tracked the location of the U-boat and gotten there. They'd have figured out that opening the ark killed everyone, and would have taken it back for themselves. Instead, the Americans retained it, thanks to Indy. So, he's a messenger boy? Not at all, because you're forgetting the most important thing of all:
Indiana Jones Is Awesome!
I mean honestly this is the only thing that matters, guys. Indiana Jones is an amazing, relatable, fantastic character — one of the most famous protagonists in all of cinema. So does he affect the story? Hell yes he does! He makes it a story instead of just a bunch of Nazis running around like headless chickens looking for an old box that kills them — and that's not an action film (I'm pretty sure that's a sitcom pilot that never gets a full series order).
So there it is, I hope that settles this 35-year debate, though something tells me that you guys will have a lot to say in the comments about this, so get going!
For more Indy-related awesomeness, check out what the cast from Raiders of the Lost Ark looks like today.