Well, there’s a headline I never thought I’d ever write. The truth is that I never actually planned on writing this one. When I originally came up with the idea to do this multi-article celebration of Raiders of the Lost Ark turning 40-years-old, I sat down and thought about the subjects I wanted to cover. I knew I wanted to a retrospective of Indy video games, I’ve always wanted to cover the famed plot hole, I most definitely wanted to look at the making of the film (coming later) and more. I sat down and pencilled in subjects, then began to research those subjects before turning them into full-blown articles. When researching those articles, I kept finding fans questioning whether Indiana Jones was a paedophile.
I need to insert a little edit here as I’ve had people suggest that I’ve made this whole theory up myself just so I could write this ‘clickbait’ article. Well, I’ve not. Here’s a link to a YouTube video looking at this very subject. Here’s a discussion on Reddit about it. There are even more sites covering the same subject too if you look. I honestly have not made this up.
Now, I’ve watched Raiders a great many times over the decades, dozens upon dozens of times. Yes, I have had my own personal questions and theories about the flick as many others have too… But none of them have ever had anything to do with questioning Dr Jones’ sexual activity/attraction to minors. Still, when I did see this very subject pop up several times during my research, I really felt that I had to delve deeper into the subject. Okay, so this is going to require a little explanation before I continue.
Okay, so the whole question of Indy being a paedo or not seems to stem from one particular scene in the first film, and one very specific line of dialogue. It comes when Indy arrives at The Raven, the bar Abner Ravenwood opened in Nepal, and just after Marion clouts Dr Jones with a right hook:
Marion: “I’ve learned to hate you in the last ten years!”
Indiana: “I never meant to hurt you.”
Marion: “I was a child. I was in love. It was wrong and you knew it!”
Indiana: “You knew what you were doing.”
Marion: “Now I do. This is my place. Get out!”
See, it is Marion’s line of ‘I was a child. I was in love. It was wrong and you knew it’ where these fan theories of Indy being a paedophile come from. For this, I really need to explore the history of the characters.
According to the official bios, Indiana Jones was born in 1899 and Marion was born in 1909, so there’s a ten year age gap between them. Also according to the bio, Indy and Marion had a thing in the mid 1920s. The relationship lasted less than a year, and it was that very same Indy and Marion coupling that caused Abner and Indy’s relationship fall apart too. It turns out that Abner was not too happy that a student that he thought of as his son was ‘involved’ with his own daughter. For those not in the know, Abner Ravenwood was basically Indy’s adoptive father who taught him everything he knew, as his real father showed very little interest in him. Anyway, Raiders of the Lost Ark takes place in 1936 and Marion says how she had learned to hate Indy the last ten years. So we can assume their relationship ended in 1926, ten years before Raiders’ 1936 setting.
If Indy was born in 1899 and Raiders is set in 1936, that would make Indy 37 during the film, minus the decade since the relationship ended. So he was 26-27-years-old when he and Marion ‘got it on’, so to speak. That would also make Marion 27 during Raiders and 16-17 when her and Indy were ‘knocking boots’. So there is a 10-year age gap between them… But that is not exactly paedophilia, is it? I’m sure there are plenty of relationships with a decade or more gap between them. Of course, it really comes down to the age of consent and this is where I’ve really had to dig into the histories of all the characters.
So according to the bios, Abner sent Indy his journal in 1925 asking for help to find the Ark of the Covenant. Indy joined Abner in his search and that was when the relationship with Marion began. So Marion would’ve been 16-years-old at the youngest in 1925 and she was 17 when the relationship ended less than a year later. There was a (fictional) book published in 2008 called The Lost Journal of Indiana Jones, which detailed a lot of Indy’s history… Only some pages had been (stylistically) ripped out and exactly what happened between him and Marion is not detailed. Nor is where the couple were when they first got together. I don’t know if they were in the US or on an expedition with Abner at the time. But, if we assume they were in the US, the age of consent ranges from state to state and in 1920, the age of consent in the US ranged from 14 to 18. Marshall College, where Abner taught Indy (and where Indy would go on to teach at himself) is in Bedford, Connecticut and in Connecticut in the 1920s when they had their relationship, the age of consent was 16 (yes, I’ve really looked into this). So, if Indy and Marion had sex in 1925 in Connecticut, then she would’ve legally been of age as she was 16 in 1925. Still a ‘child’ as Marion claimed? I guess, but still legal and of age. So then, Indy wouldn’t have been a paedophile.
However, as I previously said, I don’t know where they were when Indy and Marion were together. I assume the US, but they could’ve been on an expedition with Abner, quite possibly in Nepal at the time. The age of consent in Nepal now is 18-years-old. What was it in the 1920? I have no idea, I couldn’t find a truly reliable source. I did find a source that claimed it has been as low as 14 in the past. So if we assume they were in Nepal at the time, Marion still would (very possibly) have been legal in 1925.
But I have more. See, I’ve been writing a making of Raiders as my grand finale for this whole celebration (coming up next). I’ve researched a hell of a lot and I found a quote from George Lucas regarding Indy as a character. There were some characteristics of Indy that were originally suggested to be included or written in the first draft of the screenplay, but ultimately left out for a good reason. You’ll find out more when it comes to that making of article I have written (actually three articles as it is so big). Anyway, this is the quote:
“He has to be a person we can look up to. We’re doing a role model for little kids, so we have to be careful. We need someone who’s honest and true and trusting.”
– George Lucas
So then, if Lucas wanted Indiana Jones to be (in his words) ‘honest and true and trusting’, as well as being ‘a role model for little kids’… Why would he then be written as a paedophile? So even from a background and writing perspective, Indy was carefully crafted to not be a paedophile. If you dig around more, you will find that originally, Marion was supposed to have been around 12 or 13-years-old in early drafts of the script. So then, when Marion was originally written as being younger? Yeah, that would be a bit of a difficult one to explain. However, in the early drafts of the script, no mention of a relationship between them ever existed, Marion ws just Abner’s daughter. But the fact remains that Marion was made older and Indy was specifically written to be a role model to kids, etc. Yes, she was young, she was a ‘child’ as she called herself, but Marion was still of legal age.
But I have more. See, it is never explicitly stated what Indy and Marion got up to. Those who question Indy being a paedophile are actually just making up that they had sex themselves. Even Karen Allen herself has weighed in on this very subject:
“So we don’t even know what it is. I mean, they could have kissed a few times, and she was just completely bowled over, and he could have just not wanted to get involved with someone so young. And maybe my father would have been furious at him. I mean, what’s great about it is we don’t know what the circumstances are.
So she obviously cared deeply for him. He may have cared for her, too. But, in the end, decided it was a dangerous situation and he didn’t want to be involved. I mean, I guess, when something is as vague as that, you can color it any way you want to color it. I’ve tended to color it, sort of, that it was quite innocent. When she says, ‘It was wrong and you knew it’. I mean, I think maybe he led her on in some way. But when she says she was a child, I think she meant she was 16. Something like that.”
– Karen Allen
So there actually isn’t anything to suggest that Indy and Marion did anything other than a bit of kissing and cuddling, and it is suggested that Indy put an end to the relationship before it got too serious too. Yes, a 26-year-old man (as Indy was in 1925) getting involved with a 16-year-old girl would most definitely raise more than a few eyebrows today… But Raiders of the Lost Ark wasn’t set in 2021, it was set in 1936. Even then, the relationship (according to the character bios) began in 1925 and ended less than a year later in 1926. They were very different times, 16-year-old girls were getting married and having kids back then. So there is zero evidence to suggest that Indiana Jones was a paedophile. Questionable that he was involved with a girl 10-years younger than him yes, but she was of age… If they did have sex, of which there is nothing to suggest they did, then nothing illegal was going on. Dr Jones was definitely not a paedo.
Well, with that out of the way, it is onto the grand finale of this whole Raiders at 40 celebration. It’s quite a big one too. I’m going to look at just how and why the legend that is Indiana Jones came about and what went into making the film from its original conception, right up to its release.