Back To the Future Part II isn’t trying to predict the future.


The discussion of Back To the Future, Part II starts at 02:30.

Listen: Apple Podcast | Stitcher | TuneIn | Google Play | Direct Download
Apple Podcast | Stitcher | TuneIn | Google Play

The filmmakers of Back To the Future, Part II have said that their goal for the portion of the movie that takes place in the future world of 2015 was not to make predictions but to have fun. They wanted a deliberate response to the bleak futures depicted in science fiction films like Blade Runner.

Because audiences had lived with Marty McFly for an entire movie already and grown to love him, it would be very startling to see him living in a dystopian future much more typical of science fiction. On the disconnect between how we view our own futures and how we view the world’s future, Prof. Gary Wolfe says in his lecture series, How Great Science Fiction Works:

I’ve asked the students to make lists of historical events they thought would happen in the next hundred years or so, and to attach dates to each event. Then I kept those lists, and a couple of weeks later, when they thought we were just discussing their own plans after college and their personal goals and career goals, I asked them to make another list. This one concerned future events in their own lives, with the ages at which they expected each event to happen. And then I matched up the two lists. So, one student had himself retiring to Florida a few years after he’d predicted in his earlier list that rising sea levels would pretty much wipe out the entire state. And another was happily watching her oldest grandchild graduate from college some time after she’d had a giant meteor strike obliterate the whole planet. And so on. Admittedly, in that first list the students were just letting their imaginations run wild, and in the second they were expressing real hopes and dreams. The point is, our ideas of our own personal futures don’t always match with our ideas about global futures. When we think about our own futures we tend to be optimistic, but our ideas about the future of the world can be a lot less sunny.

Seeing Marty living in Mad Max or Children Of Men just doesn’t compute, but we generally don’t see ourselves in those movies either. I’m always making bleak predictions about the future—whenever Russia gets up to its shenanigans in Crimea or the Baltics, I’m always like, “This is it, guys: World War Three!”—but I fully expect my kids to be happy and healthy and in a totally normal world 50 years from now.

I would like to be seen as the kind of person who has some sort of inside scoop on how bad everything is, but I don’t actually approach life this way. I’m still fully expecting hover boards, Jaws 19, and the Hydrator.

Back To the Future, Part II

Director: Robert Zemeckis

Marty McFly: Michael J. Fox
Doc Brown: Christopher Lloyd
Biff: Thomas F. Wilson
Jennifer: Elizabeth Shue

Released: November 22, 1989

Domestic Box Office: $188 million




Laci says…

Matt says…

The Other Movie

You might also enjoy…

FEBRUARY 8, 2018

If time travel gets invented in the future, we’ll see evidence of it in the present.

JULY 5, 2017

Death Becomes Her (1992) | Directed by Robert Zemeckis | Starring Meryl Streep, Bruce Willis, Goldie Hawn

MARCH 10, 2010

None of this ever happened, and we’re coming to confiscate your DVDs to prove that it never happened.

What other movies have we been reconsidering? 

Put The Bucket List on your bucket list!

The Bucket List (2007) | Directed by Rob Reiner | Starring Morgan Freeman, Jack Nicholson, Sean Hayes

Welcome To the Dollhouse is the best movie ever made about how awful it is to be a kid

Welcome To the Dollhouse (1996) | Directed by Todd Solondz | Starring Heather Matarazzo, Brendan Sexton III, Eric Mabius

The first Rocky is weirder and better than you remember

Rocky (1976) | Directed by John G. Avildsen | Starring Sylvester Stallone, Talia Shire, Carl Weathers

Why do I hate The Goonies so much?

The Goonies (1985) | Directed by Richard Donner | Starring Sean Astin, Josh Brolin, Corey Feldman

Ever After is the best Cinderella movie ever (after)

Ever After (1998) | Directed by Andy Tennant | Starring Drew Barrymore, Anjelica Huston, Dougray Scott

The first X-Men movie gets the superhero movie really right

X-Men (2000) | Directed by Bryan Singer | Starring Hugh Jackman, Patrick Stewart, Ian McKellen

The original Jumanji is admirably dark, but not very fun

Jumanji (1995) | Directed by Joe Johnston | Starring Robin Williams, Bonnie Hunt, Kirsten Dunst

I get why people love Empire Records, even if I don’t

Empire Records (1995) | Directed by Allan Moyle | Starring Anthony LaPaglia, Liv Tyler, Rory Cochrane

Back To the Future Part II isn’t trying to predict the future

We don’t connect our own futures with the gloomy future we predict for the world.

The Austin Powers series is one funny and incredibly charming movie, and two dreadful movies

Austin Powers Series (1997, 1999, & 2002) | Directed by Jay Roach | Starring Mike Myers, Seth Green, Michael York