Indiana Jones’ Most Impressive Feats Before The Movies


  • Indiana Jones’ adventures go far beyond the big screen, with wild exploits like riding with Pancho Villa in the Mexican Revolution.
  • His encounters with historical figures like T.E. Lawrence and Teddy Roosevelt shaped his mindset and prepared him for global adventures.
  • Journeying to the center of the Earth and uncovering ancient Chinese treasures only scratches the surface of his thrilling exploits.

Indiana Jones is one of the greatest adventurers in cinema. The part-time archaeology professor regularly travels the world in search of ancient artifacts and historical mysteries. His big-screen escapades–set ranging from 1935 and 1969–have seen him unearth legendary relics like the Ark of the Covenant, the Sankara Stones, the Holy Grail, and one of the Seven Cities of Gold. He’s tackled crooks, cults, kingdoms, and empires. As impressive as those feats are, they’re only the tip of the iceberg.


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In reality, Indiana Jones is a hero who has had several incredible journeys before his film exploits. His hunger for adventure dates back to his childhood years. Fans see that attitude in ancillary material like books, video games, and even TV. The explorer becomes a witness to some of the most pivotal events and items in human history. Suffice it to say, that Indiana Jones has had an eventful life.

5 Rode With Pancho Villa

Indy Ditched A Family Visit To Join The Mexican Revolution

Pancho Villa in The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles

  • Year: 1916
  • Seen In: The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles S1E1: “Young Indiana Jones and the Curse of the Jackal”

As shown in The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles, the hero wasn’t always a studious academic. In fact, he yearned to get out of school. That was partly because his friend, T.E. Lawrence, had already gone off to fight in World War I. Indy acted on that impulse when his father took him to visit family in Santa Fe.

Slipping away to explore a nearby town, he ran into Mexican revolutionary Pancho Villa. The fighter sought to liberate his country’s people from government oppression. Desperate to prove himself, Jones joined Villa for several raids. These involved horseback chases, explosive shootouts, and rough life in the desert. Plus, his affinity for languages made him useful as a translator. Seeing the impact on the peasants, though, Indy realized that he didn’t truly believe in the cause. Thus, he quietly left Villa’s band, but he remembered it for years to come. It even made a fun tale to tell his son in Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.

4 Fought In The Great War

Indiana Jones Became One Of The Countless Young Soldiers Of World War 1

World War I in The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles

  • Year: 1916-1918
  • Seen In: The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles S1E2-S2E22

Indy’s search for a worthy cause led him to Europe. His friend, Remy, returned to his homeland to enlist in the Belgian Army, and Jones tagged along. The subsequent struggles were perilous. He survived inhumane conditions in the trenches, escaped from a POW camp, and captured several high-priority targets. He also tried his hand at intelligence missions–taking out enemy spies and even holding secret peace meetings with leaders. These trials were more than anyone could expect from a young adult.


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War brings out humanity’s worst. Death and suffering reach untold levels. WWI was especially nasty because of the horrible conditions in the trenches. It would be enough to traumatize the most stalwart souls. On a positive note, it served as yet another learning experience for Indy.

After having seen such terrible atrocities, most other conflicts looked like child’s play. Maybe that’s how he could keep his cool during stressful situations in the films. It also explained how he knew his way around firearms and other offensive tools. Dodging danger and dishing it out was practically second nature.

3 History’s Greatest Hits

Meeting Meeting History’s Most Influential Figures Helped Shape Indy’s Life

Teddy Roosevelt, Krishnamurti, and T.E. Lawrence in The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles

  • Year: 1908-1920
  • Seen throughout: The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles

Pancho Villa wasn’t the only historical figure that Jones encountered. The TV show saw him meet numerous famous faces. He rubbed shoulders with T.E. Lawrence, Teddy Roosevelt, Al Capone, Mata Hari, Ernest Hemingway, Winston Churchill, Jiddu Krishnamurti, and more. Sure, it’s hard to believe that he coincidentally ran into all of these guys, but these chance meetings were a prime opportunity to expand his horizons.

What better teachers than those who’ve left permanent marks on human history? Not only did these interactions further Indy’s knowledge of world events, but they offered a valuable perspective on how those are perceived. History differs depending on one’s viewpoint. Understanding and respecting those viewpoints let Jones see the bigger picture. It’s why he became so successful at mingling with other cultures. More to the point, it made him the worthiest to unearth their cultural treasures.

2 Found Another World

Indy Journeys To The Center Of The Earth

Indiana Jones and the Interior World cover by Drew Struzan and Indy in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom

  • Year: 1929
  • Seen In: Indiana Jones and the Interior World

One of the hero’s weirder episodes occurred in Indiana Jones and the Interior World. As he investigated Easter Island, he discovered that said island was one of several gates to a hidden realm known as the “interior world.” Housed beneath the Earth’s crust, it was home to supernatural beings like mermaids, shapeshifters, and unicorns. This explained the ghostly sightings of cryptids and urban legends across the globe. Unfortunately, a despot of this subterranean land sought to ally with the Nazis. Indy stopped that unholy union, but the book suggested that it all could have been a drug-induced hallucination. That revelation left both readers and Jones wondering.


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Regardless, the adventure aided him on two levels. If it was real, then it prepared him for the mythical phenomena he’d later discover. After all, these concepts were so outlandish that the most fantastical sights would seem tame by comparison. The interior world was also another in the long list of magic powers he kept out of Hitler’s hands.

If it was all in his head, though, fans could see it as mental training. Indy always had a strong mind, and this wasn’t the last time he endured brainwashing. Later attempts left him relatively unscathed, so this drug trip in ’29 might have built up some cranial resistance. Whatever the case, the story showed that even nonsense can have an upside in Indy’s life.

1 Found The Emperor’s Tomb

Ancient Chinese Treasure Leads to Globetrotting Escapades

The Netherworld in Indiana Jones and the Emperor's Tomb

Indiana Jones and the Emperor’s Tomb

February 25, 2003

The Collective

  • Year: 1935
  • Seen In: Indiana Jones and the Emperor’s Tomb

Jones had established himself as a professor and explorer by 1935. As such, people started coming to him for help. During Indiana Jones and the Emperor’s Tomb, a mysterious official requested the hero find the final resting place of Qin Shi Huangdi, the first Emperor of China. Within his tomb was the “Heart of the Dragon.” Like many artifacts, it supposedly granted the user immense magical might. This set the stage for a rousing journey.

This game sported all the perils and pitfalls of an Indiana Jones movie. The plucky protagonist dealt with Nazis, Chinese triads, ivory hunters, and even supernatural monsters. The journey took him all over the globe. He went from Sri Lankan jungles to Prague castles to Hong Kong alleys to Penglai mountains to the Netherworld. It’s a miracle that he came out in one piece, let alone ready for more. After all, the game took place right before Temple of Doom. Now, it’s time to wait to see what and where Indy’s adventure takes him in Indiana Jones and the Great Circle.

indiana jones great circle tag page vertical

Indiana Jones And The Great Circle