Harrison Ford’s best Jack Ryan comeback would see him become President of the United States – but Air Force One has already given audiences the best version of that story. Ryan is the creation of the late author Tom Clancy, who debuted in 1984 bestseller The Hunt For Red October. Alec Baldwin later played Ryan in the 1990 film adaptation, with the character changing appearance many time in later outings.
Despite being a direct sequel, Baldwin was replaced by Ford for Patriot Games and reprised the part for 1994’s Clear And Present Danger. The series was rebooted with 2002’s tepid The Sum Of All Fears, which introduced a more inexperienced Ryan played by Ben Affleck. The film was a solid success, but after several of Affleck’s follow-up projects like Gigli bombed, it was decided to pause the Jack Ryan movie series. It eventually reemerged with 2014’s Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit, fronted by Chris Pine; that reboot’s lukewarm box-office killed talk of a direct sequel. The character now lives on in Amazon’s Jack Ryan TV show, played by John Krasinski.
Ford is probably the actor most identified with Ryan – at least on the big screen. The star has been revisiting his most popular characters in the last decade, including Han Solo in Star Wars: The Force Awakens and Deckard in Blade Runner 2049. He will also reprise the title role in Indiana Jones 5, but a big screen return to Ryan is looking doubtful. One major part of the novels the live-action adaptations have yet to touch upon is that Ryan becomes the President, starting from Debt Of Honor. This would be Ford’s best Ryan comeback, but since he already played the ultimate action hero President in Wolfgang Petersen’s Air Force One, it’s not fresh cinematic terrority either.
Why Harrison Ford Stopped Playing Jack Ryan
In Air Force One, Ford played President Marshall, a former Vietnam Vet who has to retake the titular plane from terrorists. This 1997 action thriller was one of the last major Die Hard clones from this era, and despite a credulity stretching story, it was an entertaining blockbuster. Ford displayed both the brains and brawn of the character, and even managed to sell the line “Get off my plane!“
It would be interesting to see a Jack Ryan legacy sequel where Ford’s Ryan actually is the President. One option could be to focus on Jack Ryan, Jr from the novels – who somewhat took the place of his father – with Ford’s Ryan busy in the White House. Another option would be to have Ford return in Without Remorse 2, with Michael B. Jordan’s John Clark taking on the main action; since Ford’s Ryan met a different Clark played by Willem Dafoe, however, there might be continuity issues with this.
Ford returning as President Ryan would be intriguing, but since he’d have much less to do than in Air Force One – it wouldn’t be nearly as much fun either. Ford was once set to return as Jack Ryan in The Sum Of All Fears, but after issues with various drafts of the screenplay, he opted to exit. While more recent adaptations have attempted to make Ryan younger and hipper, exploring the older Ryan’s time as President would be something very different for the movie series; whether Ford could be tempted to return for it is another question.
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Next: How Tom Clancy’s Without Remorse Connects to Jack Ryan