(Paris) From the release in 1981 of Raiders of the Lost Ark, Indiana Jones established himself as an emblematic character of popular culture, ranking on the podium of “the greatest heroes and villains of cinema”.

In four decades, he has also become the hero of TV movies, novels, comics, video games, toys and even amusement parks.

Here are six things to know about the whipped archaeologist, played by Harrison Ford for the fifth time in Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny, screened Thursday at the Cannes Film Festival, out of competition.

Marked by the B series heroes of his childhood, George Lucas imagines, even before making Star Wars, this adventurer in search of relics with supernatural powers.

The project materializes on a Hawaiian beach, where he is on vacation with Steven Spielberg. Who dreams of directing a “James Bond”. “I have better!” Raiders of the Lost Ark,” Lucas whispers to him.

Bank! With the success that we know. The first film was followed by The Temple of Doom (1984), The Last Crusade (1989) and Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008). Before The Dial of Destiny, the final installment starring 80-year-old Harrison Ford, and perhaps the end of the saga, the first four installments grossed nearly $2 billion at the global box office.

Same actor and always the same look: three-day beard, old fedora hat, worn leather jacket, canvas bag slung over his shoulder and a whip on his belt.

Lucas and Spielberg are inspired by real or imaginary characters to give birth to their “Indy”. There is archaeologist Hiram Bingham, discoverer of Machu Picchu. But also the universe of Hergé, the westerns of Clint Eastwood or the French film The Man from Rio.

Named Henry, the adventurer has the nickname Indiana. Nothing to do with the American state. That’s the name of… Lucas’ dog. Already, for Star Wars, it was she who gave him the idea for the character with thick fur, Chewbacca.

In the “Indiana Jones”, the nods to the intergalactic saga are not lacking. For example, the droids R2D2 and C3PO hide in the hieroglyphs of the Well of Souls. And the seaplane is registered OB-CPO, a reference to Obi Wan and C3PO.

Fans also had fun spotting bugs and other anachronisms.

The action takes place in 1936, but we see Indiana using a Bazooka, a weapon invented… five years later! Ditto for the map with “Thailand” while the country is still Siam.

To interpret Indiana, Spielberg wants Harrison Ford, but Lucas is not hot. He fears confusion with Han Solo, his character from Star Wars.

They approach Nick Nolte, Jeff Bridges, Bill Murray, before choosing Tom Selleck, still little known. Who should refuse the role, because he signed up for Magnum. Spielberg then convinces Lucas that Harrison is their man.

To play Willie, a thousand actresses are auditioned, including Sharon Stone. Kate Capshaw landed the role. She will not have a great career in the cinema, but in 1991 becomes Mrs Spielberg.

The illustration of the American dream. A refugee in the United States with his Vietnamese parents, Ke Huy Quan landed the role of Demi-Lune, a young sidekick from Indiana, in Le temple maudit at the age of 12. Then confirms in The Goonies, another commercial success.

It is then the crossing of the desert before a return to the cinema in 2018 and the consecration in Everything Everywhere All At Once (2022), which earned him the Oscar for best supporting role.

The hero’s weak point is ophiophobia: fear of snakes! It must be said that, very young, Indiana fell into a pit filled with these reptiles.

For this scene that has remained famous, Spielberg does not skimp on quantity and robs pet shops. Some 6,500 snakes in total. But it is still missing and the director must add bits of garden hose.

The most dangerous, the cobra, is filmed in a glass cage. At the end of filming, we realize that some snakes have made themselves beautiful.