The Complete Indiana Jones Saga Before Watching ‘Dial of Destiny’

Indiana Jones is one of the most iconic and beloved characters in cinema history. Created by George Lucas and Steven Spielberg, the adventurous archeologist has starred in five movies that span over four decades, from 1981’s Raiders of the Lost Ark to 2023’s Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny. Along the way, he has faced Nazis, cults, aliens, and ancient mysteries, while also finding love, friendship, and family.

But with so many adventures and so much history, it can be hard to keep track of all the details and connections that make up the Indiana Jones franchise. That’s why we’ve prepared this comprehensive recap of the story and ending of each movie, as well as some background information on the characters, settings, and historical events that inspired them.

Whether you’re a longtime fan or a newcomer to the series, this article will help you refresh your memory or catch up on what you’ve missed before watching Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny which is set to hit theaters in 2023. So, grab your hat, whip, and passport, and join us as we explore the thrilling world of Indiana Jones!

1. Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981) – Set in 1936

Raiders of the Lost Ark is the first film in the franchise follows the exploits of Indiana Jones in 1936, which means the film is set a year after the events of The Temple of Doom, the second film in the franchise. However, the film released before The Temple of Doom.

The Complete Indiana Jones Saga Before Watching ‘Dial of Destiny’
Indiana Jones in The Raiders of the Lost Ark

In this film, Jones is hired by the US government to find the Ark of the Covenant, a biblical relic that contains the Ten Commandments and is believed to have supernatural powers. Jones travels to Nepal, Egypt, and the island of Malta, where he faces various dangers and enemies, including his rival René Belloq, who works for the Nazis.

The Raiders of the Lost Ark Plot Explained

The movie begins with Jones searching for a golden statue in the jungles of South America. He sets off a deadly trap but manages to escape with the statue. However, he is confronted by Belloq, who takes the statue from him and leaves him to die. Fortunately, Jones survives and returns to his teaching job at Marshall College.

He is then approached by two US Army Intelligence agents who inform him that the Nazis are looking for his old mentor Abner Ravenwood, who has a piece of an ancient staff that can locate the Ark. Jones deduces that Ravenwood’s daughter Marion has the staff piece, which is a medallion. He travels to Nepal to find her, but discovers that she runs a bar and does not want to see him.

The Nazis, led by the ruthless Major Toht, arrive at the bar and try to take the medallion from Marion by force. Jones intervenes and fights them off, but the bar catches fire and Toht burns his hand on the hot medallion, leaving an imprint on his palm. Jones and Marion escape with the medallion and fly to Cairo.

In Cairo, Jones meets his friend Sallah, a skilled digger who reveals that Belloq and the Nazis are digging for the Ark at Tanis. Sallah becomes one of the most important recurring characters in the franchise.

Jones sneaks into a hidden map room and uses Marion’s medallion to find the correct location of the Ark, which is buried in one of the sand-logged buildings. The Nazis have the wrong location because they only have half of the information from Toht’s hand.

Meanwhile, Marion is kidnapped by some of Belloq’s men and taken to his tent. Jones thinks she is dead when he sees her dress on a hanger with blood stains. He gets drunk and confronts Belloq at a nearby bar, but is captured by the Nazis. They take him to a Nazi base where they plan to test the Ark’s power on him.

However, since Marion is still alive, she manages to free herself and rescue Jones. At the end, Jones and Marion is rescued by the US Army Intelligence agents and the actual location of the ark is also revealed.

The Raiders of the Lost Ark Ending Explained

As I explained above, Marion is kidnapped by Belloq and Jones believes her to be dead after seeing her blood-stained dress. However, Marion frees herself from Belloq’s tent and rescues Jones with a truck.

The Complete Indiana Jones Saga Before Watching ‘Dial of Destiny’
Indiana Jones and The Raiders of the Lost Ark

They escape from the base and hijack a plane that carries the Ark. The two then fly to an island near Malta where they hope to contact Sallah and arrange a ship to take them back to America.

On the island, they are ambushed by Belloq and Toht, who have followed them with a submarine. They take the Ark and tie Jones and Marion to a pole near an altar where Belloq intends to open it. Jones warns them not to look at it, as it could be dangerous.

Belloq opens the Ark and finds nothing but sand inside. He is disappointed until he hears a strange noise coming from inside. He looks up and sees ghostly figures emerging from the Ark.

Belloq considers them to be friendly, but soon realizes that their true nature. The figures turn into fiery angels of death that kill Belloq, Toht, and all the Nazis present by melting their faces or exploding their heads.

Jones and Marion close their eyes and avoid looking at the Ark. They are spared by its wrath and freed from their bonds. They are later found by US Army Intelligence agents who take them back to Washington DC.

There, they are told that the Ark will be studied by top men in a secret location. However, in reality, the Ark is stored in a wooden crate and placed in a massive warehouse among thousands of other crates.

2. Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984) – Set in 1935

Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom is the second film in the Indiana Jones franchise, directed by Steven Spielberg and starring Harrison Ford as the adventurous archaeologist.

The Complete Indiana Jones Saga Before Watching ‘Dial of Destiny’
Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom

The movie is set in 1935 and is a prequel to Raiders of the Lost Ark, which released in 1981. Raiders of the Lost Ark released before The Temple of Doom, but the events of the latter occurs before the former in the timeline of the franchise.

The movie follows Indy as he travels from Shanghai to India, where he gets involved in a mission to rescue a village’s children and a mystical stone from a sinister cult.

The Temple of Doom Plot Explained

The film begins with Indy escaping from a crime boss named Lao Che in Shanghai, who hired him to find the remains of an ancient emperor. He is accompanied by a young boy named Short Round and a nightclub singer named Willie Scott.

They board a plane that belongs to Lao Che, but the pilots sabotage the plane and parachute out, leaving Indy and his companions to crash. They survive by using an inflatable raft and land in a river in India.

They reach a village where the people are suffering from famine and disease. They tell Indy that a Thuggee cult has stolen their sacred Sankara stone and kidnapped their children. The stone is one of five that can grant great power to whoever possesses them.

Indy agrees to help the villagers and travels to Pankot Palace, where he suspects the cult is hiding. He meets the young Maharajah of Pankot and his prime minister, Chattar Lal. He also encounters a British officer named Captain Blumburtt, who assures him that there is no cult activity in the palace.

Indy discovers a secret passage behind a statue that leads to an underground temple. There, he witnesses the cult leader, Mola Ram, perform a ritual human sacrifice by ripping out the victim’s heart and lowering him into a pit of lava. He also sees the children working as slaves in the mines, where the cult is searching for the remaining Sankara stones.

The rest of the film focuses on how Indy, Willie, and Short Round rescues the Sankara stone from Mola Ram. The film ends with the death of Mola Ram and several members of his cult. Indy returns the Sankara stone to the villagers.

The Temple of Doom Ending Explained

After Indy discovers Mola Ram’s cult, he tries to steal the stone from the altar, but is captured by the cult. He is tortured by Mola Ram, who reveals his plan to use the stones to revive the Thuggee empire and overthrow the British rule in India.

The Complete Indiana Jones Saga Before Watching ‘Dial of Destiny’
The Temple of Doom

Willie and Short Round manage to escape from their cells and rescue Indy. They also free the enslaved children and recover the Sankara stone from Mola Ram, who chases them to a rope bridge over a crocodile-infested river.

During the climax, Indy cuts the bridge in half, causing many of the cult members to fall into the river or be shot by Blumburtt’s troops, who arrive in time. He confronts Mola Ram on the bridge and uses his whip to grab the stone from him. The stone glows and burns Mola Ram’s hand, causing him to fall into the river and be eaten by crocodiles.

The film ends on a happy note, as Indy returns to the village with Willie, Short Round, and the children. He gives back the Sankara stone to the villagers, who thank him for restoring their prosperity and happiness.

3. Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989) – Set in 1938

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade is the third film in the franchise and follows the exploits of Indiana Jones in 1938. The film is set two years after the events of The Raiders of the Lost Ark.

The Complete Indiana Jones Saga Before Watching ‘Dial of Destiny’
Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade

In The Last Crusade, Jones is once again hired by the US government. This time, he is assigned the task to find the Holy Grail, a biblical relic that grants eternal life to whoever drinks from it.

Jones teams up with his father, Professor Henry Jones Sr., who has been kidnapped by the Nazis while pursuing the Grail. The film is set largely in 1938 and features locations such as Venice, Berlin, and Petra.

The Last Crusade Plot Explained

The film begins with a flashback to 1912, when a young Indiana Jones is on a horseback riding trip with his Boy Scout Troop in Utah. He discovers a group of robbers finding a crucifix owned by Coronado while exploring caves. He takes the crucifix and escapes from the robbers, but is forced to give it back to their leader by the town sheriff.

In 1938, Jones recovers the crucifix from a ship off the coast of Portugal and returns to his teaching job at Barnett College. There, he is approached by Walter Donovan, a wealthy collector who shows him his father’s diary that contains clues to the location of the Grail. Donovan tells him that his father has gone missing while searching for the Grail in Venice and asks him to find him.

Jones travels to Venice with his friend Marcus Brody, a museum curator. They meet Dr. Elsa Schneider, an Austrian art historian who was working with Henry Sr. She takes them to an ancient library where they find a hidden tomb that contains a knight’s shield with a map of the Grail’s location.

However, they are attacked by members of a secret society called the Brotherhood of the Cruciform Sword, who are sworn to protect the Grail from being found. Jones and Schneider escape by boat and learn that Henry Sr. was taken to Castle Brunwald on the Austrian-German border.

Jones and Schneider go to Castle Brunwald and rescue Henry Sr., who reveals that Schneider and Donovan are working for the Nazis and have betrayed them. They also discover that Donovan has a partial copy of the map from Toht’s hand imprint.

They escape from the castle and board a zeppelin bound for Berlin. However, they are forced to leave the zeppelin when they realize that it is turning back to Germany. They steal a biplane and fly away, but are pursued by Nazi fighters. They manage to shoot down their pursuers, but crash-land near a beach.

They hitchhike to a nearby town where they meet Sallah once again, who has arranged transportation for them. They learn that Donovan and Schneider have reached Iskenderun with Brody as their hostage. They also learn that the map leads to an ancient city called Alexandretta (now Iskenderun) in Turkey, where the entrance to the Grail’s temple is located.

They follow Donovan and Schneider to Alexandretta, where they encounter a Nazi tank convoy led by Colonel Vogel, who has Brody in his custody. Jones rescues Brody from the tank and fights Vogel on top of it. He manages to destroy the tank and kill Vogel, but is presumed dead by his father and friends when they see the tank fall off a cliff.

However, Jones survives and reunites with them at the entrance to the temple. They are confronted by Donovan and Schneider, who have captured Sallah’s brother-in-law Kazim, the leader of the Brotherhood. Donovan shoots Henry Sr. in order to force Jones to enter the temple and find the Grail for him.

The Last Crusade Ending Explained

In the final moments of the film, Jones enters the temple and faces three deadly challenges: a corridor of blades that he avoids by kneeling; a word puzzle that he solves by stepping on tiles that spell Jehovah; and a leap of faith that he makes by walking on an invisible bridge across a chasm.

The Complete Indiana Jones Saga Before Watching ‘Dial of Destiny’
The Last Crusade

He reaches the inner chamber where he finds an old knight guarding several cups. The knight tells him that only one of them is the true Grail and that choosing wrongly will bring death.

Donovan arrives with Schneider and forces Jones to pick a cup for him. Jones picks a golden cup that looks like a royal chalice, but Donovan drinks from it and ages rapidly until he turns into dust.

Jones realizes that he picked the wrong cup and chooses another one that looks like a simple carpenter’s cup. He fills it with water and gives it to his father, who drinks from it and heals his wound. The knight tells him that he has chosen wisely, but warns him that he cannot take the Grail beyond the temple’s seal.

Schneider, however, tries to take the Grail with her, causing the temple to collapse. Jones, Henry Sr., Brody, and Sallah escape from the temple, but Schneider falls into a crevice while trying to reach the Grail. Jones tries to save her, but she slips from his grasp and falls to her death. Jones almost suffers the same fate, but his father convinces him to let go of the Grail and take his hand.

They ride away from the temple with their horses and join Sallah and Brody. Henry Sr. reveals that his son’s name is Henry Jr. and that he named him after their dog. He also tells him that he learned something from their adventure: that the search for the Grail is not about finding a cup, but about finding enlightenment.

4. Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008) – Set in 1957

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull is the fourth film in the Indiana Jones franchise and is set in 1957, almost nineteen years after the previous film.

 The Complete Indiana Jones Saga Before Watching ‘Dial of Destiny’
Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

In Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, Jones becomes entangled in a Soviet plot to uncover the secret behind mysterious artifacts known as the Crystal Skulls. The film is set largely in 1957 and features locations such as Nevada, Peru, Brazil, and Mexico.

Kingdom of the Crystal Skull Plot Explained

Jones and his colleague, George “Mac” McHale, is captured by Russian soldiers who are seeking a powerful artifact that the U.S. government is holding.

They are taken to a secret base in Nevada, where they are forced to help Colonel-Doctor Irina Spalko, a psychic agent, find a crate containing the remains of an extraterrestrial creature that crashed in Roswell, New Mexico.

Jones uses his wits and a magnetized gunpowder to locate the crate, but Mac betrays him and reveals that he is working with the Russians. Jones escapes from the base and survives a nuclear test by hiding in a lead-lined refrigerator.

Jones is interrogated by the FBI, who suspect him of being a Soviet spy. He returns to his teaching job at Marshall College, but is put on indefinite leave due to the investigation.

He is then approached by a young man named Mutt Williams, who tells him that his old friend and mentor, Professor Harold Oxley, has gone missing while looking for a Crystal Skull in Peru. Oxley has sent Mutt a letter with a cryptic message and a drawing of the skull.

Jones agrees to help Mutt find Oxley and travels with him to Peru. There, they discover that Oxley was kidnapped by the Russians, who are also looking for the skull.

They also learn that Mutt’s mother, Marion Ravenwood, Jones’ former lover and partner from Raiders of the Lost Ark, is also held captive by them. They follow Oxley’s clues to a graveyard, where they find a tomb containing a Crystal Skull that has strange psychic properties.

They are attacked by Spalko and her men, who want the skull. Jones and Mutt escape with the skull and head to Nazca, where they find Oxley in a mental hospital. Oxley tells them that the skull belongs to an ancient civilization called Akator, also known as El Dorado or the Lost City of Gold. He says that the skull can communicate with him and guide him to Akator.

They rescue Marion from the Russians and reunite with her. Jones learns that Mutt is his son, whose real name is Henry Jones III. They also meet up with Mac, who claims that he is a double agent working for the CIA. They decide to trust him and follow him to Akator, which is located in the Amazon rainforest.

In the end, the group reaches Akator but faces Spalko and her men.

Kingdom of the Crystal Skull Ending Explained

Jones and his team reach Akator and enter a hidden temple filled with skeletons that have elongated skulls like the one they have. However, they are confronted by Spalko and her men, who have followed them with Mac’s help. Mac reveals that he was lying about being a double agent and that he only cares about money.

The Complete Indiana Jones Saga Before Watching ‘Dial of Destiny’
Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

Spalko takes the skull and places it on one of the skeletons, which activates a mechanism that opens a portal to another dimension. She learns that the skeletons are actually interdimensional beings who have been observing human history for millennia. She asks them to share their knowledge with her, but they overload her mind with information and cause her to disintegrate.

The temple starts to collapse and the portal creates a powerful vortex that sucks everything into it. Jones and his friends escape from the temple and reach a safe distance. They watch as a flying saucer emerges from the ground and flies into the portal, which closes behind it.

Jones and his friends return to America, where he is reinstated at Marshall College and promoted to associate dean. He also marries Marion at a chapel, where Mutt attends as his best man.

5. What We Know So Far About Indiana Jones 5

Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny is slated to be the fifth and the final installment in the Indiana Jones franchise. This is the first film which is neither written by George Lucas, nor directed by Steven Spielberg.

The Complete Indiana Jones Saga Before Watching ‘Dial of Destiny’
Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny

The film marks the last appearance of Harrison Ford as Indiana Jones. The film is set in 1969, when Indiana Jones receives a message from his missing friend, Professor Oxley, who has found a mysterious device called the Dial of Destiny that can alter history.

He travels to Venice, Berlin, and Malta to find him and the device, but faces opposition from Voller, a former Nazi scientist who works for NASA and wants to use the device to change the outcome of World War II.

Jones teams up with his former lover Marion Ravenwood, their son Mutt Williams, and his old friends Sallah and Mac to stop Voller and return the device to its rightful place in an ancient temple. Along the way, they encounter various historical figures and artifacts that help them in their quest.

The film will release in theaters on June 30, 2023.

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6. About Indiana Jones Franchise

Indiana Jones is an American media franchise based on the adventures of Dr. Henry Walton “Indiana” Jones, Jr., a fictional professor of archaeology.

The franchise began in 1981 with the film Raiders of the Lost Ark. In 1984, a prequel, The Temple of Doom, was released, and in 1989, a sequel, The Last Crusade. A fourth film followed in 2008, titled The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.

A fifth film is in production and is provisionally scheduled to be released on June 30, 2023. 

Epic Dope Staff

Epic Dope Staff

Our talented team of Freelance writers - Always on the lookout - pour their energies into a wide range of topics bringing to our audience what they crave - fun up-to-date news, reviews, fan theories and much much more.


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