There’s no secret that I’m a huge sucker for adventure movies, and key among them is the first Indiana Jones film, Raiders of the Lost Ark. While Last Crusade is adorable because of Sean Connery’s buffoonery, I could watch Marion Ravenwood, played by the stunning and OMFG can I be her? Karen Allen, every day and be a very happy lady.
We’re introduced to Marion in a smoky, snowy Nepalese bar, where she’s going shot for shot with a big, burly dude. She struggles her way through another glass of clear liquid while around her, men take bets on whether or not the only young woman in sight is going to take down this monster.
I think my favorite thing about this scene is the fact that she owns the place, and walks around knowing it. She’s got buddies in the bar who clear out the riff-raff, but as far as you can tell, they’re not employees and they’re not bodyguards. Unlike basically every other movie in the world, including the sequel Temple of Doom, Marion isn’t 1) a kept woman of some powerful man in that country or 2) afraid of the locals. Marion is a strong, independent woman who don’t need no man to protect her. And she also isn’t racist or a concubine.
Then, in walks Indy. At this point, we haven’t seen the man redeem himself, and he’s basically a super gruff, Alpha Male jerkface to Marion. Ford is, in real life, nine years older than Allen and the age difference is well played in the scene– she decks him (see Fig. 1), and yells at him for having a romantic relationship with her while she was so young, she was “just a child.”
(For a bit of Maths, assuming the character ages are similar to the actors’ own ages, Indy is 39, Marion is 30, and, since Indy tells people in the beginning of the movie he hasn’t seen Marion’s dad in over 10 years, she was likely in her mid to late teens when they had their fling, so yeah, Marion is justified.)
She sends Indy off without the treasure he came searching for– after extorting more money from him. She blows cigarette smoke in the face of a Nazi torturer. And then when the Nazi barfight ensues, she manages to really hold her own instead of turning into a blubbering mess. She’s completely badass.
I don’t think it’s exactly a coincidence that Marion’s best weapon in her fight scene in Cairo is a frying pan. Certainly, it’s a believable prop in the markets of Cairo, but talk about an awesome metaphor for women like Marion in the time the movie takes place– years before World War II. Marion has been dealt a shit hand in life– she’s so smart, and so ferocious, and so tenacious that she could survive the life of a traveling archaeologist with her father, Abner. She flourishes the best she can after his death. And, to an extent, the best she can do for herself is the role of barmaid. Her weapon of defense is not a gun, unlike Indy who unforgettably wields his pistol against the man in black with the saber, but she still puts down plenty of people with that frying pan. She’s badass for her time, for her situation.
I think one of my favorite things about this movie is that every bad thing that befalls Marion also befalls Indy. She’s not the only character to get kidnapped and tied up, she’s not the only character that falls for an old flame. I can’t be surprised that Indy gets more to do, because his name is in the title and all that jazz, and movies are sexist at large, and Steven Spielberg always has male protagonists for some ungodly reason that no one ever seems to ask him about.
But man. Marion Ravenwood. You’re my hero.