So a few years ago, there was apparently an episode of Big Bang Theory where Mayim Bialik’s character, Amy, pointed out that in the movie Raiders of the Lost Ark the main character, Indiana Jones, does nothing to the plot and the movie would have happened without him. Since I grew up on this movie, I refused to believe this, came up with a counter-argument and that was the end of it. Recently, however, a so-called “friend” brought this up again and I had to argue back-and-forth with him until I could prove my point. And that brings us to here where I will rant about it for everyone to see.
Spoilers for Raiders of the Lost Ark ahead (P.S. if you haven’t seen it, you should ASAP).
Okay, so the story follows Dr. Henry “Indiana” Jones, archaeologist and professor of the trade at Cambridge, who is tasked by the government to find the lost Ark of the Covenant before the Nazis do (this obviously takes place during WWII). Speeding right along, after many iconic and amazing action scenes Indiana (or “Indy” to his friends) discovers with his friends that the Nazis don’t have all of the information and are digging in the wrong place, leading Indy to find the correct location of the Ark. The Nazis steal it from him, he steals it back, they steal it again (repetitive cycle now that I think about it) and Indy follows them to a remote island where they plan to open the Ark and unleash G-d’s full power. During a terror-filled scene that gave me nightmares when I was a kid, as G-d’s power kills the Nazis one-by-one, Indy knows not to look directly at the Ark and thereby saves himself and his love-interest Marion. Upon getting back, the government backs out of the deal they had with Jones (surprise surprise) and locks the Ark up to keep it out of the wrong hands.
Now let’s chat. So it’s believed that Jones did nothing to affect the plot at all. If he wasn’t there, the Nazis wouldn’t have found the Ark, and even if they did, they would have died anyway. While all of this is true, I disagree to the maximum. First point of argument, Marion had the medallion that contained the information about the Ark’s location and Indy came to her first. At the same time, Nazi thugs came to force it from her. Jones’s interference not only saved her life, but also caused the misinformation to go the Nazis so they wouldn’t be able to find the correct location. Second point, after they stole the Ark form Indy the first time, they were getting ready to put it on a plane and send it either to Berlin or the remote island (it’s never said). Indy and Marion blow up the plane, causing the transportation to move to trucks, making it easier for Jones to steal it back. Third point, while it’s true the Ark would have wiped the Nazis out entirely, it would have been sitting on an island under Nazi control until some other Nazis came, found it, deduced what happened and use it as their own personal nuke for Hitler. Because Indiana was there, he was able to get it out of Nazi hands and deliver it to America (yay!).
Still, there is the lingering doubt of why he was there in the first place, and I’ll happily tell you why. It’s no secret that Nazis obsessed with the occult and the supernatural has appeared in pop culture since the 40’s. Whether this is real or not, it provided a mysterious and ulterior goal for an American enemy to have, and we could not let them beat us. Enter Indiana Jones, American archaeologist and expert on the occult, America’s answer to the supernatural Nazi threat. That’s essentially who Jones is, the comic book hero of WWII that fights the Nazis as he races to find mystical artifacts before they do. Additionally, the Nazi’s choice of archaeologist, Belloq, even claims to be the exact opposite of Jones. The main difference between them is that while Belloq only appreciates artifacts for their value in wealth and glory, Jones values them for their history and meaning, thereby making Indiana Jones the better man. Take that, Amy.