We go on a crazy journey in the film, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, and so do the characters. One character that stands out to me the most is Henry "Mutt" Jones III.
Mutt is a fresh addition. He and Indiana support each other very well, just like two complimentary colors. A well-oiled wise man with a lot to offer and a strong-headed young man with intelligence, charm and potential. A professor paired with a school drop-out... a perfect match. They provide growth for each other, and their unfolding relationship is enjoyable and relatable.
As they interact in the story, we learn more about the likable Mutt. A very evident trait is that he carries a lot of bitterness. Much of it, I believe, being rooted in the fact that he didn't have a strong biological father figure growing up. Mutt tells Indy that Ox helped Marion raise him. And while that certainly was a benefit, it still doesn't fill the void of Mutt's absent "blood" father. We also learn that his stepfather, who Marion married early in Mutt's life, died in WWII when he was still a child. So, it's safe to say that he's had some ups and downs when it comes to male influentials.
I believe all this is partly tied to why he dropped out of so many schools and is now walking around with a tough guy mentality. The personal issues going on in his life started to affect how he saw the world. And now his choices have led to tension between Mutt and Marion. What better way to help fix this than to pair him with his actual father and go on a high-stakes journey across the world. Which leads me to my next point.
A little over halfway through the film, Mutt and Indy learn that they are father and son. That explains why they bonded so well in the first place, and why they can be at each other's necks sometimes. Mutt doesn't take the news too well at first. He acts in a bit of denial, resenting the fact that a "school teacher" is his father. Indy, though, quickly accepts it.
Regardless of this newfound revelation, the main plot still calls for their cooperation. Throughout the story, Mutt and Indiana continue to go through highs and lows together. You can't help but grow with someone when your lives are continually at stake. And when your life is continually at stake, you learn to trust the ones who have your back. The same goes for Indy and Mutt.
Let me provide an example of this. After the jungle chase, the characters crash into a wide nesting ground of huge, menacing ants. As Indy, Mutt, Ox and Mac run to the river to avoid attack by the ants, one of the enemy soldiers tackles Indy and Ox. This leads to a fist fight between the soldier and Indy. Mutt turns around to go help, but Indy yells, "Get to the river!".
This is a simple and effective portrayal of their growing bond. Indy and Ox are in trouble. Mutt turns to help. Indy cares too much about Mutt for him to get caught up in his current situation. Therefore, he tells him to continue on. BOOM... pretty straight forward. Mutt has also been with Indy long enough now to know that he can hold his own in a fight. So, he easily continues on knowing that they'll meet back up. And they do.
What's really funny is how Mutt reacts to Indiana and Marion's rekindled love. It takes some getting used to, which is completely understandable. Indy and Marion have so much history, but it's all still pretty new to Mutt. And the way he deals with it is hilarious at times.
At one point, Indy, Mutt, Marion, Ox and Mac recompose themselves after falling into a watery pit. Indy helps Marion up and they hug. This stops Mutt in his tracks as he observes with a close eye. After hugging, Indy and Marion lean in to kiss each other. And right before they do, the intervening Mutt abruptly comes in between the two and gives Indy a skeleton to hold for no other reason than to stop the kiss. Classic, haha. Even though Indy and Mutt have been through a lot together, Mutt is still learning to navigate this whole "father" thing. And it plays out very comical at times. Just look at Mutt's reaction to Indy and Marion's wedding kiss at the end of the film. It's priceless.
After time, Mutt begins to accept this new truth. And it changes him for the better.
As much as this is a film about artifacts and good agendas versus evil agendas, it is very much a film about family. And the crystal skull is merely a MacGuffin used to unify a broken and distant one. And through that unity, a young man named Henry "Mutt" Jones III manages to step into more of his true identity. He doesn't even have to say anything for us to realize he's changed. From his growing eagerness of leadership throughout their journey to his collective and bright spirit at the wedding. His whole countenance is different.
He even mistakenly answers to his real name at the wedding as Ox yells out, "Well done Henry!" to Indiana. The old Mutt probably wouldn't have responded so kindly.
You can also see it in how he leaves the church. With his jacket slung over his shoulder, he walks out with a newfound respect and confidence in himself.