Imagine. To peer across the world and know the enemy's secrets. To place our thoughts into the minds of your leaders. Make your teachers teach the true version of history, your soldiers attack on our command. We'll be everywhere at once, more powerful than a whisper, invading your dreams, thinking your thoughts for you while you sleep. We will change you, Dr. Jones, all of you, from the inside. We will turn you into us. And the best part? You won't even know it's happening.
~ Spalko to Indiana Jones, talking about the power of the Crystal Skull.
She is a highly skilled Soviet Agent who acquires artifacts for the Soviet Union. Interested on psychic warfare, Spalko was tasked by the late Joseph Stalin to find the Crystal Skull of Akator and deliver it back to the Temple of Akator in South America.
A Soviet agent born in a small mountain village in the eastern regions of the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic, she was believed by those in her village to be a witch as her apparent psychic powers began to manifest themselves through animal control.
An impressed Joseph Stalin inducted her into researching psychic warfare, awarding her with the Order of Lenin three times. She is skilled in fencing and hand-to-hand combat and is Indiana's main antagonist as she brings the crystal skull to Akator to utilize the power there for her country's militant purposes. Ironically, her desire for knowledge proved her undoing when the crystal skull entity grants her desire to know everything, and an alien figure emerges and indicates that Spalko is too dangerous to remain alive. Her mind overloads and she disintegrates and her ashes scatter into the portal along with her felons.
Irina Spalko in Warehouse 51.
Irina Spalko's demise.
A Lego figure of Irina Spalko.
A Irina Spalko toy.
Irina Spalko in LEGO Indiana Jones 2: The Adventure Continues
Despite the huge amount of fan backlash Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull received, Cate Blanchett's performance as Irina Spalko received critical acclaim by both film critics and fans, who regarded her as the best part of the film, with even Steven Spielberg stating that Spalko is his favorite villain in the series.
Irina Spalko is one of two main antagonists of the film series who is not affiliated to the Nazis, the other being Mola Ram from Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. However, Mola Ram is the only one who doesn't belong to a military faction, as Spalko is a agent of the Soviet Union.
In the novelization of the film, it's revealed that Irina Spalko's "psychic powers" present in the film were apparently real. It's furthermore detailed that Spalko had an unhappy childhood as all people on her village ostracized her and her family due her reputation as a "witch", leading Irina to perform experiments with animals to understand biology and life until her own mother came to fear her.
In the TV special LEGO Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Brick, Spalko's mission is changed from that of the film. Instead of taking the Crystal Skull to Akator, her mission is to take the Skull from Akator, which Indiana Jones and Mutt Williams have also planned. After Indy and Mutt manage to make Spalko hit her Jungle Cutter against the entrance of Akator, leaving it out of action temporarily, they advance and enter the temple. Once there, Spalko appears and engages in a sword fight with Williams, which ends with Spalko falling through a hole to an unknown fate while Jones and Williams escape from the ruined temple.
In LEGO Indiana Jones 2: The Adventure Continues, Spalko gets the power she wants. She becomes so intelligent that she can control objects with her mind and shoot destructive mental rays from her eyes. However, she ends up being defeated by Indy and Marion, causing her power to overtake her and make her body explode, causing her remains to be pulled to the portal of the interdimensional beings. In the portable versions of the game, Spalko battles Indy and Oxley shooting them with her pistol from afar until these two succeed in making the crytsal skeletons use their mental ability to raise her upwards. However, after this event, Spalko's ultimate fate is left ambiguous.