Richard Spencer, a well-known neo-Nazi far-right leader, had just been punched in the face during an interview in the swirl of Washington, D.C., protests and celebrations following the inauguration of Donald Trump, and the discourse was raging on social media. Assault and violence is wrong, many argued, but are there exceptions when confronted by the presence of someone whose ideals historically embody that much evil?
“Punch a Nazi” memes ran rampant — arguably the most shared featured a famous image of cinematic swashbuckler Indiana Jones (Harrison Ford) towering over a Nazi soldier, fist raised, about to clock the daylights out of him, in 1989’s Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.
“What would Indiana Jones do?” academics pondered.
We now have a definitive answer from the man in the fedora himself.
“He’d push [other people] out of the way to get in the first punch,” Ford told us during an interview for his fifth and final film in the franchise, Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny, where he was joined by director James Mangold.
“As well he should,” Ford adds, making no secret of his own feelings of IRL Nazi-slugging.
I asked Harrison Ford how ultimate Nazi puncher Indiana Jones would feel about the debate over punching Nazis in real life today.
“He’d push 'em out of the way to get in the first punch. As well he should." pic.twitter.com/rg1L2aFrpi
— Kevin Polowy (@djkevlar) June 13, 2023
The archeologist otherwise known as Dr. Henry Jones became one of the most celebrated action heroes of all time with the launch of 1984’s Steven Spielberg-directed, George Lucas-produced Raiders of the Lost Ark, followed by 1984’s Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom and 1989’s Last Crusade. Set in the years leading up to World War II, Jones often squared off against Nazi soldiers through his early adventures, particularly in Raiders and Last Crusade (the latter of which featured one of Indy’s most famous quips: “Nazis, I hate these guys.”)
When Ford returned for 2008’s Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, the action was moved from the 1930s to 1957, where Indy made Soviet Communists see red instead. In Dial of Destiny, though, Indy is back doing what he does best — whooping fascist foes — as he sets out to foil a nefarious plot by former Nazi scientist (Mads Mikkelsen) hired by NASA in the space race to put a man on the moon in 1969. Mikkelsen’s Jürgen Voller is based on Wernher von Braun, who developed rocket technology for Adolf Hitler’s Nazi Germany before he was hired by the U.S. Army, Disney and NASA.
“That was a black-and-white world,” Ford says of the rise of the Nazi party. “This evil presented itself to the world. It’s incalculable that this vision of evil not be confronted.
“To see a threat of it in 1969, to know that Wernher von Braun was a Nazi and worked for America on the space program after all we knew about his history and who he associated with. I mean, these are shades of gray in a world we'd thought was black and white.”
Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny opens June 30.
Watch the trailer: