The Cinema Behind Star Wars: Indiana Jones and The Lost Missions

Club Obi Wan in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom

Like most people reading this, I spent a whole Saturday binge-watching the Netflix premiere of the Lost Missions of Star Wars: The Clone Wars. We were rewarded for our patience with 13 episodes of a show we loved, which might have been 13 of the best produced. They were action packed, beautifully animated, thrilling, and, at times, heartbreaking.

But for some reason I really, really wanted to watch the Indiana Jones movies after this batch of episodes. It should come as no surprise that the Indiana Jones films might creep their influence into Star Wars projects as they have George Lucas in common, but there were three episodes of The Lost Missions that paid pretty blatant homage to everyone’s favorite archeologist.

The first one I noticed was in the third episode, “Fugitive.” ARC Trooper Fives is working to escape from a Kaminoan medical facility with help of a doddering hover droid named AZ-3. The dynamic of the scene was reminiscent of Indy and his father trying to escape the Austrian castle in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. The circle was completed after Fives brings down a whole group of clones trying to stop him and AZ-3 deadpans Henry Jones, Sr., when he says, “Look what you did… I can’t believe what you did…”

It was an incredibly funny moment in an episode filled with tense confusion, balancing along that careful line the makers of The Clone Wars always walk.

This moment had me quietly itching for some Indiana Jones movies, bringing a smile to my face, but things wouldn’t get really serious until episode eight and nine. “The Disappeared” is a two-part story teaming Jar Jar Binks with the redoubtable Mace Windu as they uncover a Temple of Doom like plot to bring power back to a Thuggee like cult.

Jar Jar Binks plays a clueless, clumsy version of Indiana Jones in this episode, and Queen Julia of Bardotta is a bit of his Willie Scott, as she disappears (just like Willie) captured by the cultists that will suck the living force from her. The scenes play like a Star Wars version of Temple of Doom. When Master Windu and Jar Jar pick up Queen Julia’s trail, the chase plays out much like Marion Ravenwood’s abduction in the basket in the streets of Cairo.

The rest of the episode plays out like Mola Ram’s ceremony deep in the Temple of Doom, complete with lava and dangling cages.

On the whole, “The Disappeared” put me in the mood to watch Temple of Doom again, which itself opens in the “Club Obi Wan.”

It’s been great to see a lot of Indiana Jones in the Star Wars universe lately. In fact, James S.A. Corey’s new book Star Wars: Honor Among Thieves takes Han Solo and plops him into the middle of an Indiana Jones adventure, the whole story culminating in an ancient temple full of booby-traps and secrets.

The Indiana Jones movies are always a great time for the whole family. I recommend watching all four movies with the kids immediately, followed by the Young Indiana Jones Chronicles. 

Bryan Young is an author, a filmmaker, journalist, and the editor in chief of Big Shiny Robot! He’s also the co-host of the Star Wars podcast, Full of Sith.

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