How to Watch Indiana Jones in Chronological Order (And Why)

The Indiana Jones movies jump around in time. Instead of watching them in release order, we recommend chronological order!
How to Watch Indiana Jones in Chronological Order (And Why)

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With the new Indiana Jones movie just entering its filming phase, you might be inspired to take a ride through the rest of the movies so far—maybe to refresh your memory, maybe watch for the first time.

Not every Indiana Jones movie hits the same highs, but all of them provide the opportunity to feast your eyes on Harrison Ford and his daring adventures. Is that ever really a bad thing? Even at 80 years old, he's still the only one I want to see playing Indy.

But when you go to rewatch the Indiana Jones movies, consider this: instead of watching them in release order, try watching them in chronological order of when they take place in the story!

If you're unsure about how the timeline shakes out, here's our rundown of the Indiana Jones movies, their relative place in the overall story of Indy, and a little bit about each one!

1. Indiana Jones and The Temple of Doom

Despite being the second film to come out, this one actually takes place before the events of Raiders of the Lost Ark. And while this film is okay, it doesn't have the intriguing story arcs of either Raiders or Last Crusade.

Set in 1935 with the majority of it taking place in India, Indy teams up with a kid named Short Round (played by Ke Huy Quan) and a singer (played by Willie Scott) to fight against a cult that's into child enslavement and human sacrifice.

This one is a dark ride with a kind of weak plot, and for me, it's not as enjoyable as the first or third ones in the series. If you want to watch all of the movies, you may want to start off with this one so you can get past the chilled monkey brains and move on.

2. Indiana Jones and The Raiders of the Lost Ark

This first installment in the franchise started it all, even though it's second chronologically. Set in 1936, we're truly introduced to the archaeologist and professor Indiana Jones played by Harrison Ford.

He begins his battle against the Nazis and his quest for a religious artifact: The Ark of the Covenant. Both of these elements prove to be common themes as we work our way through the franchise.

In this film, Jones is in a race against the Nazis to obtain the Ark before they do. Why? Because it houses the Ten Commandment tablets of Moses. This film moves along at a quick pace and is fun to watch.

We're introduced to his love interest Marion (played by Karen Allen) and Sallah (played by John Rhys-Davies). These two add so much to the film that if you watch the series in movie release order, it'll just make Temple of Doom that much more disappointing.

3. Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade

For me, Last Crusade is by far the best of the series. It takes place in 1938 and has the richest storyline of the franchise with its involvement of Sean Connery as Indy's father, Henry.

Once again, Indy is in a race against the Nazis for another religious artifact: The Holy Grail. The thought of Nazis getting their hands on it is nothing short of horrific. This one is by far the most fun to watch and the one I've seen the most times.

Its success can be attributed to the excellent chemistry between Sean Connery and Harrison Ford, who get along so well and are so much fun to watch together. Alison Doody plays the semi-love interest, though her motives are a bit sketchy from the start.

4. Indiana Jones and The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

The long-awaited fourth installment, Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, is problematic in several ways... but still interesting to watch, if only to see Harrison Ford don his classic fedora again.

This time we're in 1957 and the enemy are Russians seeking the Crystal Skull. Cate Blanchett plays a KGB agent who thinks it may have psychic benefits. Not only that, but Indy now has a son played by Shia LaBeouf—a son whose mama is Marion.

I love that they bring her character back here, even though the son himself leaves something to be desired. Fans will be satisfied in the love story coming full circle, at least.

What's Next for Indiana Jones?

The yet-untitled fifth installment in the Indiana Jones franchise is slated to release sometime in 2023.

There have been several setbacks up to this point, including Harrison Ford's unfortunate shoulder injury. The plot of the movie is still mostly under wraps, but it's expected to take place in the 1960s or 1970s and may include the Nazis once again.

We'll have to wait and see! For now, enjoy the existing movies in one of the greatest movie franchises ever made. Thanks, Spielberg!