An assassin, spy and thief, the individual known only as the Monkey Man had a hand in a number of illegal activities throughout Cairo. Usually operating from a position of surveillance from his motorcycle, the Monkey Man reported information back to his employers who included among their number illegal goods traffickers, disreputable businessmen and, on occassion, the Nazis. He was also suspected of assisting a treasure hunter smuggle ancient Egyptian artifacts out of the country.
In his work, the Monkey Man used a trained Capuchin to track his targets or retrieve objects, taking advantage of her ability to gain access to the places that he otherwise couldn't. He taught his monkey that if she didn't succeed in her tasks, she wouldn't get to eat.
Around 1936, the Monkey Man and another known denizen of the Cairo underworld, a feared swordsman who far was less interested in keeping to the shadows, were among the locals hired specifically by German agents to prevent any interference in the Nazi mission to unearth the lost Ark of the Covenant buried at nearby Tanis.
After Marion's apparent death, Monkey Man followed Jones to the home of an old man whom Sallah believed could decipher the markings of the Headpiece to the Staff of Ra. While the serving boy was away from the kitchen, Monkey Man snuck in and poisoned a bowl of dates in an attempt to kill Indiana. His plot was thwarted, however, when his hungry pet ate from the bowl first, her death revealing the plot to Sallah just in the nick of time.
With his principal accomplice gone, Monkey Man disappeared.
Behind the scenes
Monkey Man was portrayed by Vic Tablian in Raiders of the Lost Ark, who also played Barranca in the same film. Tablian later went to portray Demetrios/Claw in Young Indiana Jones and the Curse of the Jackal.
While filming in Kairouan, Tunisia, a scene in Imam's house was filmed which featured the Monkey Man emerging from the shadows and following Indiana Jones to kill him. However, director Steven Spielberg ultimately dropped the scene during the last day of principal photography in Tunisia.
The character bears a similarity to Garindan in George Lucas' Star Wars: Episode IV A New Hope. Garindan is an Imperial informant and spy who sells out Harrison Ford's character Han Solo and company to the Empire on the desert planet of Tatooine.
Kenner released an action figure of the Monkey Man as part of their toyline The Adventures of Indiana Jones in the 1980s. The action figure came exclusively in the Streets of Cairo set along with the Capuchin monkey and a Marion Ravenwood figure in crouching position.
- Raiders of the Lost Ark novel (First appearance)
- Raiders of the Lost Ark
- LEGO Indiana Jones: The Original Adventures (Non-canonical appearance)
- LEGO Indiana Jones 2: The Adventure Continues (Non-canonical appearance) (Portable consoles exclusive)