The popcorn is popped. You and the kids are snuggled together in front of the TV in your comfy clothes. It’s movie night, and you’re craving something full of adventure. And, well, few adventure movies are as fun to watch as Indiana Jones. From the plots to the scripts, it’s difficult to choose a favorite one of these action flicks to watch. But sometimes, you crave something new. Maybe a movie with a bit more mystery or something that will leave you swooning? Or a film with a female lead? Or even a cartoon? Good news! Other movies like Indiana Jones do exist, alike in all the best ways but different in ones you won’t see coming.
But what is it about Dr. Jones that makes the original Indy films the Holy Grail of cinematic fun? People still argue to this day over which Indiana Jones movie was the best: Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981), The Temple of Doom (1984), The Last Crusade (1989), or The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008). To state the obvious, Harrison Ford as globetrotting archaeologist Indy is one of the most kick-ass heroes ever. Jones’ character symbolizes epic adventure. He’ll walk out of a classroom on a whim to chase adventure halfway around the world. Dr. Jones is honest, decisive, intellectual, and resourceful. His ability to recall historical information is mesmerizing. He adapts to every situation — a man who can teach a class, outsmart ancient booby traps, and infiltrate Nazi HQ at the drop of a hat. Speaking of hats, Indiana Jones’ hat might be the most famous in movie history. His hat and whip are simply iconic.
Everything he does, he does with conviction. He screams, “That belongs in a museum!” while battling treasure hunters on a ship in a storm. And whether it’s relinquishing the Grail’s gift of immortality to save his father’s life or fulfilling a promise to return sacred rocks in the Temple of Doom, he lives his life with integrity. He’s imperfect, and that makes him relatable. The following movies also have main characters who are tough, charismatic, or relatable.
Movies Like Indiana Jones to Get Your Adventure Fix
1. The Goonies (1985)
When a property development company plans to destroy their home to build a country club, a group of adventurous kids decides to take them on after discovering an old pirate map in the attic. If they find the treasure, they could keep the house! The teens face many dangerous obstacles as they navigate underground caverns, including pirate booby traps and being chased by a savage crime family called the “Fratellis,” who recently escaped from jail and have been hiding out in town.
This movie is straight-up ’80s nostalgia. Mouth, Mikey, Data, and Chunk each have the type of personality of someone we all knew growing up. If you like Indiana Jones, you’ll be sure to recognize Jonathan Ke Quan (who plays Data). He played “Short Round” in the Indiana Jones movies.
2. The Mummy (1999)
For a treasuring hunting movie that’s fun to watch, action-packed, and still leaves room for some comedic relief, The Mummy is a great choice. A remake of the 1932 film of the same name, the 1999 version follows adventurer Rick O’Connell (played by Brendan Fraser) as he travels to the City of the Dead with a librarian and her older brother. They accidentally awaken a cursed high priest with intense supernatural powers. Chaos ensues.
The Mummy is arguably one of Brendan Fraser’s best roles. Sure, the acting overall is hammy. But thanks to the great action throughout, this movie makes for an entertaining watch.
3. Romancing the Stone (1984)
If you took the Indiana Jones series, spoofed it, and placed it in Colombia, you’d have Romancing the Stone. This 1984 action-adventure movie stars Michael Douglas, Kathleen Turner, and Danny DeVito. Joan Wilder (Turner) plays a romantic-adventure writer who needs help delivering a treasure map to her sister’s captors in the Colombian jungle. She is helped by mercenary Jack Colton (Douglas) as they engage in a dangerous journey. A great pair, Turner and Douglas have lovely chemistry and great dialog, too. In fact, they also made a great pair in the sequel, Jewel of the Nile.
4. The Jewel of the Nile (1985)
Michael Douglas reunited with Kathleen Turner and Danny DeVito for this 1985 action-adventure romantic comedy sequel to Romancing the Stone. Like Romancing the Stone, this movie also opens in one of Joan’s novels. Joan is living with Jack on his yacht until she decides to leave when the head of a North African nation asks her to visit and write about him. When Jack finds out that she is in danger, he partners with Ralph (Danny DeVito) to save her.
5. Jungle Cruise (2021)
In this new Disney movie, Dr. Lily Houghton (Emily Blunt) hires wisecracking skipper Frank Wolff (Dwayne Johnson) to explore the Amazon River and the surrounding jungle. They are looking for an ancient magical tree that holds the power to heal. The movie is based on Disney’s theme park riverboat ride with the same name.
6. DuckTales the Movie: Treasure of the Lost Lamp (1990)
Remember watching DuckTales on TV after getting home from school? DuckTales the Movie: Treasure of the Lost Lamp is a kid-friendly Disney movie that grips adults as well. It combines a treasure hunt similar to early DuckTales episodes (which often included adventures in an ancient land) and a modern adaption of Aladdin. In this story, Scrooge McDuck takes Huey, Dewey, and Louie to Egypt in search of a pyramid and a magic lamp.
7. Goldfinger (1964)
While investigating smuggling, James Bond discovers a gold magnate’s plot to contaminate the Fort Knox gold reserve. And, seriously, this 1964 spy film has so much action! Goldfinger sets the blueprint for the 007 we know and love today: Auric Goldfinger as the megalomaniac villain, the scary henchmen, the chart-topping theme song, and, of course, the Aston Martin. This car came equipped with 30 caliber machine guns, tire-shredding blades, and more. And who can forget these famous lines?
“Do you expect me to talk?”
“No, Mr. Bond, I expect you to die!”
8. Lawrence of Arabia (1962)
Based on Lieutenant T.E. Lawrence, this film follows the British adventurer and soldier’s experiences during the First World War. Lawrence (Peter O’Toole) is sent to Arabia to locate Prince Faisal with a mission to serve as a liaison between the British and Arab tribes — often warring — in their mutual fight against the Turks. Peter O’Toole’s performance is timeless and unique.
9. Tomb Raider (2018)
This list would be incomplete without some girl power! Lara Croft (Alicia Vikander) is the fiercely independent daughter of a missing adventurer, Lord Richard Croft (Dominic West). Croft embarks on a dangerous journey to his last known whereabouts — a tomb on an island somewhere off the coast of Japan. This 2018 flick is based on a 2013 video game of the same name and is a reboot of the Tomb Raider series. The role was made famous in 2001 by Angelina Jolie, but this version is arguably better.
10. Apocalypto (2006)
Circa the early 1500s, the Mayan kingdom was at its peak of power — a world ruled by oppression and fear. A young hunter named Jaguar Paw is captured and taken on a dangerous journey to a Mayan city for human sacrifice during a time when the Mayan civilization is in decline. Produced, co-written, and directed by Mel Gibson, this movie features a cast of Native American and Indigenous Mexican actors. Not quite a treasure hunt movie but certainly loaded with adrenaline, brains, and heart, just like our dear Indiana Jones.
11. Librarian: Quest for the Spear (2004)
Flynn Carsen (Noah Wyle) has earned 27 advanced degrees. His Egyptology professor graduates him early, and he gets pushed out of school. But Flynn needs a job, so he begins working at the Metropolitan Public Library. This library contains incredible artifacts like the Ark of the Covenant, Pandora’s Box, and the Golden Goose. When a fragment from the Spear of Destiny is suddenly stolen, Flynn is sent to the Amazon to recover the pieces. Can this bookworm save the world? This movie does not take itself too seriously. It’s a family film you can watch with anyone aged 4 to 80.
Honorable Mention for Movies Like Indiana Jones
- Gunga Din (1939)
- King Solomon’s Mines (1985)
- Treasure of the Four Crowns (1983)
- National Treasure (2004)
- The Rundown (2003)
- Count of Monte Cristo (2002)
- The Mosquito Coast (1986)
- Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)
- Finding Ohana (2021)
- The Three Musketeers (2011)
- Robin Hood (1991)
- 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (1954)
- Moby Dick (1956)
- The NeverEnding Story (1984)
- Flight of the Navigator (1986)
- The Princess Bride (1987)
- The Mask of Zorro (1998)
- The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001)
- Master and Commander (2003)
- Life of Pi (2012)
- Kong: Skull Island (2017)
- The Lost City of Z (2016)
- Dora and the Lost City of Gold (2019)
- Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl (2003)
- Relic Hunter (1999)
- Inferno (2016)
- Hidalgo (2004)
- Jumanji (all of ’em!)
- Quigley Down Under (1990)
- Operation Condor (1991)
If none of the above movies do it for you, Indiana Jones 5 is filming right now and is due out in 2022. It’s rumored to take place in the late 1960s and involves the space race.