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Indiana Jones was an abusive creep (but he was almost much worse)

Watching movies you loved as a child is a fascinating way to learn about what you cared about back then, versus what catches your attention now.

I recently re-watched Raiders of the Lost Ark, mostly due to reading about how it was made, and one bit of dialog all but jumped out and bit me on the nose.

This is the dialog, as shown in IMDB's quotes section:

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Wait. What?

It was originally much, much worse

One of the most interesting things about Raiders of the Lost Ark is that we have the transcript of the 1978 story meetings between George Lucas, Steven Spielberg and Lawrence Kasdan. These three men sat in a room and threw out ideas before the movie was written, and it's an interesting look at the process behind one of the most influential action films of all time.

And then you get to the ideas behind Marion Ravenwood, and how the two characters know each other.

Lawrence Kasdan: I like it if they already had a relationship at one point. Because then you don't have to build it.

George Lucas: I was thinking that this old guy could have been his mentor. He could have known this little girl when she was just a kid. Had an affair with her when she was eleven.

Kasdan: And he was forty-two.

Lucas: He hasn't seen her in twelve years. Now she's twenty-two. It's a real strange relationship.

Spielberg: She had better be older than twenty-two.

Lucas: He's thirty-five, and he knew her ten years ago when he was twenty-five and she was only twelve.

Lucas: It would be amusing to make her slightly young at the time.

Spielberg: And promiscuous. She came onto him.

Lucas: Fifteen is right on the edge. I know it's an outrageous idea, but it is interesting. Once she's sixteen or seventeen it's not interesting anymore. But if she was fifteen and he was twenty-five and they actually had an affair the last time they met. And she was madly in love with him and he...

Spielberg: She has pictures of him.

This is a brainstorming session, so bad ideas are going to be presented and ultimately thrown out, but the idea that Marion was way too young when the relationship started was always part of the characters.

Spielberg was right to react so negatively to the idea that she was 12 when the affair began; audiences would revolt at the idea of cheering for a hero who slept with children, but they all keep chipping away at the idea.

Lucas thinks that 15 is "right on the edge," and he doesn't mean on the edge of acceptable behavior for a grown man to sleep with a 15 year. His point was if she were any older the relationship wouldn't be as interesting.

So we have three of the creative minds behind Indiana Jones, and the conversation turns to the fact that he's a statutory rapist. The conversation is how young is too young, and how old is too old. But whatever the age in that range, it's very clear that what Indiana Jones did was wrong, even if she "was promiscuous."

The men who brainstormed the story and Indiana Jones himself seem to think he can't be blamed as long as she came onto him. After all, he says in Nepal: "She knew what she was doing."

Lucas didn't rub the audiences nose in it, but it was always a part of the relationship.

"This is a resource that you can either mine or not. It's not as blatant as we're talking about. You don't think about it that much," Lucas explained. "You don't immediately realize how old she was at the time. It would be subtle. She could talk about it. 'I was jail bait the last time we were together.' She can flaunt it at him, but at the same time she never says, 'I was fifteen years old.'

"Even if we don't mention it, when we go to cast the part we're going to end up with a woman who's about twenty-three and a hero who's about thirty-five."

Karen Allen played the character, and she was 30 when the film was released. Harrison Ford was 39. The age of their original affair, outside of the lines quoted above, was kept as subtext, and in the Hollywood tradition of male stars being older than their love interests, the difference in age didn't seem shocking, or even strange.

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The novelization of the film said she was 15 when the affair began, and she was either 16 or 17 when Indiana Jones left. Whatever the exact age of the characters or the actors, it was clear that Indiana Jones was wrong to begin the relationship, and he didn't do much to soften the blow when he ran from it.

This isn't even the only time his attraction to younger women is addressed in the novel, although one could argue about whether it's canonical. "Also in the novelization, Marcus Brody finds Indy in his bathrobe at his house because he's just entertained a co-ed. (Possibly the girl who writes 'I Love You' on her eyelids in the film.)," Moviefone stated in an article about things you may not know about the film.

This aspect of Indiana Jones' character was never a big part of the series, but it remains a creepy subplot in the series' past. He didn't just leave Marion when she was in love with him, he did it while she was a teenager and he was much older. This doesn't make the dynamic interesting, it makes him a villain in his own story.

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