By Scott Brown
August 22, 2006 at 08:20 PM EDT

What are Indiana Jones fans to make of this? It’s George Lucas, talking to Empire Magazine about the long-awaited (bordering on quasi-mythical) Indiana Jones 4: “We’re basically going to do The Phantom Menace … “

Holy Grail! Imagine what that might mean! Kid-Indy, youthful midichlorians raging, enters a big whip competition! Sallah delivers massively elliptical speeches about destiny! Indy falling in with a prat-falling Nazi officer named Gestapo Binks (Ahmed Best)! But wait, wait, don’t seethe yourself into a coma just yet, Joe Indy-fan, there’s more:

“We’re basically going to do The Phantom Menace … People’s expectations are way higher than you can deliver. You could just get killed for the whole thing… We would do it for fun and just take the hit with the critics and the fans… But nobody wants to get into it unless they are really happy with it.”

OK, you could take this one of two ways: Either it’s a bold, damn-the-torpedoes approach to the pure fun of the Indy franchise… or it’s a man who’s been so richly rewarded for sucking, he’s decided sucking ain’t  so bad.

Let’s go tentatively with the former, and parse some of George’s other comments. He cites a creative disagreement as one cause of Indy 4’s long delay. Apparently, George’s idea for a new quest objective — the Ark in Raiders, the Grail in Last Crusade, the, uh, Short Round in Temple (what was the goal there again? Those glowy egg things?) — wasn’t a hit with Spielberg or Harrison Ford. Seems like the difference of opinion on this “area of the supernatural” was enough to derail the project for years.

Two questions, PopWatchers: What’s your favorite McGuffin? The briefcase in Kiss Me Deadly? The briefcase in Pulp Fiction? The briefcase in any of those other get-the-briefcase movies?

More intriguingly, I ask you this: What potentially radioactive “area of the supernatural” do you think George is talking about? The sacred black stone (possibly a meteorite) in the Kaaba of Mecca? Yeah, we might not want Indy to go poking around that particular religious relic at the particular moment.

Or, much more likely, it’s a vintage L. Ron Hubbard-shaped paperweight kept in a vault on the 13th floor of the Scientology Celebrity Center. But I could be completely wrong: Maybe Indy’s after Madonnah’s Kabbalah bracelet. (Hint: Only the penitent man shall pass.)

So let the speculation begin. It’s all we have for now. But maybe someday, we’ll know if George chose wisely, or… poorly.

addCredit(“Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom: Everett Collection”)