I’m going to be straight with you. Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom is my favorite Indiana Jones movie. Like, out of all of them. You might be saying, well, then why are you writing this article? You’re obviously going to pick Temple of Doom over Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, but not so fast. You see, I recently wrote an article about which Jurassic Park sequel is better, The Lost World, or Jurassic Park 3. And while I was almost certain that I was going to pick The Lost World since Jurassic Park 3 is pretty silly, I actually wound up giving the title to JP3 based off of the categories that I came up with. So, really, either Indiana Jones sequel could win.
You also might be asking, well, what about the fourth Indiana Jones movie? To which I ask, what fourth Indiana Jones movie? I’m just kidding. I actually don’t hate Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. But I don’t think it deserves to be anywhere near this discussion of the best Indiana Jones sequel. So, with all that out of the way, let’s get to our grudge match! Which sequel to Raiders of the Lost Ark is better? Indiana Jones And The Temple Of Doom or Last Crusade?
Just as crucial to the action in an Indiana Jones movie is the story. So, which sequel has the better adventure?
The Temple Of Doom’s Story
Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom is kind of all over the place, which is probably why I loved it so much as a kid. It’s actually a prequel to Raiders of the Lost Ark and concerns Indy in India reclaiming a sacred stone from this cult that does human sacrifices. But there’s just so much going on, like child slavery, and Indy getting hypnotized, and a night club, and it’s just so much. Maybe too much, even. Two new characters—Short Round (Jonathan Ke Quan) and Willie (Kate Capshaw)—are along for the adventure, and while I like both of them, some people find Willie annoying. Well, at least Short Round is cool.
The Last Crusade’s Story
Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade is a proper sequel in that it actually takes place after Raiders. It starts off with a young Indy, played by River Phoenix and we get to see where Indy got his scar, his hat, and even his fear of snakes from. We later learn that Indy’s father, Henry, played by Sean Connery, has been kidnapped by Nazis, and Indy needs to find him as well as the holy grail, which the Nazis are seeking. It’s a well-plotted and well-paced adventure that goes from points A to Z with nary a hitch. Oh, and Indy was the dog’s name!
The Story Victor: Indiana Jones And The Last Crusade
I do love how weird The Temple of Doom is, but as an adult, I think it’s a little too random for its own good. Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade wins.
Every movie needs characters. So which Indy sequel has the better ones?
The Temple of Doom’s Characters
Besides Indy, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom gives us kid sidekick, Short Round, played by The Goonies star, Jonathan Ke Quan, and the nightclub singer, Willie Scott, played by Kate Capshaw, who is also Steven Spielberg’s real-life wife. As mentioned before, Short Round is cool, and he even rescues Indy. But Willie… well… she’s just okay. She sure does scream a lot, though. You also have the awesome villain, Mola Ram, played by Amrish Puri. He likes to rip out hearts like Kano from Mortal Kombat!
The Last Crusade’s Characters
Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade has quite a few memorable characters, including Salla from the first movie, played by John Rhys-Davies, and Indy’s love interest/villain, Elsa Schneider, played by Alison Doody. There’s also the main antagonist, Walter Donovan, played by Julian Glover, and he’s fine. But really, the main star of the show is Sean Connery, who even makes tough guy Indy appear small at times. He steals the entire movie, and might be the second-best character in the entire franchise.
The Characters Victor: Indiana Jones And The Last Crusade
Sorry, Short Round, but you’re no Henry Jones, Sr.
Action has always been a huge part of the series. Which sequel has the better action set pieces?
The Temple Of Doom’s Action
Okay, here’s where Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom really shines! We have Indy fighting his way out of a club, a trip down a snowy mountain on an inflatable raft, a mine cart chase, a tense scene on a bridge. I mean, when it comes to action, you really can’t fault The Temple of Doom. It has it in spades!
The Last Crusade’s Action
The film starts off with an exciting chase on a circus train, a taut fight on a tank, a motorcycle chase (with a sidecar!). I mean, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade is no slouch in the action department, either!
The Action Victor: Indiana Jones And The Temple of Doom
This one is tough, since both are so good, but I’m going to have to give the edge to Temple of Doom. I just really love the dark atmosphere better in which the action takes place. Temple is also super violent, which appeals to the dumb kid in me.
Most Memorable Scenes
Ever since the iconic boulder in Raiders, the Indiana Jones series has been built upon memorable moments. So, which sequel has the most memorable scenes?
The Temple of Doom’s Most Memorable Moments
The very first memory I have of any movie ever is Indy on the bridge between the two groups of henchmen in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. And then, they get eaten by alligators! I’ll never forget that. And of course the dinner scene where they’re eating bugs and eyeballs (which might be incredibly racist). You also have the infamous heart scene, which scarred me as a child. Almost as much as Michael Jackson’s Moonwalker. Yikes!
The Last Crusade’s Most Memorable Moments
There’s a lot of memorable moments in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, too! Like the stormy boat scene, Indy meeting Hitler, the umbrella on the beach scene with the birds, and of course the knight guarding the grail and the invisible bridge! So cool!
The Most Memorable Moments Victor: Indiana Jones And The Temple of Doom
Another tough one! But while I love all the cool moments in The Last Crusade, Temple of Doom’s moments stick to my bones!
Connection To Raiders Of The Lost Ark
Every sequel should have a pretty good tether to the first film. So, which film has the strongest link to the first Indiana Jones movie?
The Temple Of Doom’s Connection To Raiders Of The Lost Ark
Excluding the main character, none. Zip. Zero. There is no link between the first movie and Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. That was intentional. George Lucas, who came up with the story, didn’t want to do Nazis again. So, they went with a religious cult. That’s… certainly different.
The Last Crusade’s Connection To Raiders Of The Lost Ark
Now this is a sequel! In Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, we learn more about the protagonist in both his childhood and his family, and it even feels like a continuation with recurring characters like Marcus Brody and Sallah, as well as the reappearance of nefarious Nazis.
The Connection To The First Movie Victor: Indiana Jones And The Last Crusade
No question with this one. Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom is not even a sequel. It’s a prequel.
Indiana Jones And The Temple Of Doom Vs. The Last Crusade: Which Movie Wins?
Honestly, I love all three original Indiana Jones movies (and like Crystal Skull). But while Temple of Doom will always be my favorite given my connection with it at an impressionable age, even I have to admit that Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade is the better sequel. But what do you think? Sound off in the poll or comments section down below!