If there is one movie franchise that defined my childhood – and those of many others – it was Robert Zemeckis’ Back to the Future trilogy. I know that there are a slew of anti-fan boys out there pushing their glasses back with one finger and squeakily saying: “Robert said we would have hoverboards by now!” – well, shut the hell up, nerd, because the great man that brain-birthed arguably the most influential movie about going back in time and making out with your mother (yes, your mother. Ha! Burn!) got an astounding amount of things right. So, eat it, hater. These are seven things that Back to the Future got right!
This is the first thing any whiney, pale, bespectacled dork quips when mentioning the trilogy… “We still don’t have hoverboards”. First off, stop blaming Zemeckis for that… it’s not like French haters ran around 19th century Paris saying “Why is zere no submarine, Jules Verne? YOU LIED TO US! SO, EVERYTHING YOU ‘AVE DONE SUCKS!”
No, they didn’t. They were probably busy drinking wine at the Moulin Rouge and complaining about the fluffiness of their croissants. Also, Mr. / Mrs. Hater, keep in mind that a feasible submarine wasn’t created for almost a century after Verne wrote about Captain Nemo and his ship, the Nautilus.
That means that all you have to do is wait for a little bit more for your very own hoverboard. And it’s not like there aren’t hoverboards already, they’re just not commercially available yet – like the Lexus SLIDE and the Hendo Hover. So, suck it, Back to the Future haters!
2. Garbage-Fueled Cars
Remember in the last scene of the first movie when Doc Brown comes back from the future and stuffs a bunch of organic garbage into the DeLorean time machine’s power source? How cool would it be if we could actually do that, right? Well, what if I told you we already have done it, but it was relegated to obscure post-war technologies? Yes, in WWII, many civilians were forced by the rationing of gasoline and diesel to convert their cars to run on organic materials in a process called gasification. Although the ideal fuel source is wood, anything that is organic can be burned up to create fuel if placed in the “fuel” or burning tank of a gasifier.
3. Powered Clothes
There are two iconic scenes in Back to the Future Part II where powered clothes steal the show. In one scene, Marty McFly’s shoes auto-tie themselves, and his clothes dry themselves in the other.
Well, I hate to break it to you, but Nike announced earlier this year that they will be releasing a power lace version of the Nike MAG (a replica of the Marty McFly’s shoes in the movie) to coincide with the movie’s 30th anniversary and, as always, Japan comes hard with its innovation game and already has clothes with built-in fans. A company called Kuchofuku produces what is called the air-conditioned work shirt which features its own power source and two powerful fans placed above your lovehandles – don’t deny the fact you have them. Oh, the same company also makes jackets, pants and hooded shirts with the air-conditioning technology, so I think your argument is invalid.
4. Video Conference Calls / PayPal (Kinda)
Yep, almost 30 years ago when your dad was unsuccessfully trying to procreate with your mother, Mr. Zemeckis was seeing the future. In a scene in Back to the Future Part II, Marty McFly is seen using his television to talk to his coworker Needles (if you didn’t already notice, Needles is actually Flea, the bassist for Red Hot Chili Peppers) who eggs him on to engage in an illegal transaction with his credit card. In one single scene, Zemeckis managed to predict video chat services and online transactions (and maybe even smartphone / computer / tablet-compatible credit card readers since he used his card in his TV). OK, of course he was fired because of the transaction, but I guess that was the director’s warning against frivolous online purchases and the dark slippery slope that is internet porn.
5. Remakes / Sequels in 3D
Especially in the last couple of years, we have seen a slew of childhood-destroying remakes of our favorite franchises including recently campy horror flick Fright Night and Conan the Barbarian (oh man, the 3D is so good I think his nipples are going to poke me in the eye!)
In all irony, Jaws 3D had been released six years before the second Back to the Future film, so I’m pretty sure this was more of a loving poke at the movie that was universally accepted as a floating turd of a movie and not necessarily a prediction. But we have seen an unending train of sequels and spinoffs based on the aquatic carnivore, most noteworthy amongst the muck must be Sharknado. If you can’t see the video for whatever reason, it’s basically the mother of all disaster movies as it features a storm that carries ravenous sharks, raining them onto the panicking masses, and the people that decide to fight back throw bombs into them… Now you really want to see the trailer, don’t you?
6. Nostalgia Obsession / Fusion Cuisine
Who knew that Back to the Future would go as far as to predict cultural trends, too? Well, it did, and in the videos above, you’ll see the 19th iteration of the Jaws franchise, an 80s café, and an antique store next to it chockfull of 80s bric-a-brac. Inside the café, customers are served by avatars of famous 80s figures including Michael Jackson, Ronald Regan and, perplexingly, Ruhollah Khomeini, the Supreme Leader of Iran at the time of filming (not the future timeline of the movie).
As the tons of remade 80s and 90s films, and nostalgia bars (and critics) can testify, we are just as nostalgically obsessed with past in the real 2015 as are the Back to the Future 2015ers. Just to make sure the nostalgia thing (in the fake 2015) is front and center, it also features TVs with newsreels of the time (again, I’m talking about the 80s, not 2015), an old arcade game cabinet, and a gaudy color scheme that would feel at home listening to Michael Jackson’s “Beat It” (which is playing in the background, by the way).
Another little prediction is made when Marty plays the arcade game; the young children (one of which will grow up to become Frodo) make fun of him for using physical controls “like a baby”. Well, guess what? Xbox 360 has a large roster of crappy games which you can play without a physical interface – how do you like them apples, Frodo? Another prediction that we see in this scene is the rise of fusion cuisine, which combines elements from various cuisines from around the world. Although I’m sure the director was trying to be absurd when Marty is offered mesquite-grilled sushi by a Roland Regan floating head. Today, it would feel right at place in any hip on-fleek LA or New York eatery… you might have already even had it.
7. Global Overpopulation
So, I’m closing this article with a bit of my own theory. If you jump to 1:37 mark in the clip above, you’ll see Marty standing in front of an antique store’s display window full of 80s items. One of the items is a sign in the lower center which reads “The Population Bomb Is Everyone’s Baby”. This is a reference to the 1968 bestselling book by Stanford University Professor Paul R. Ehrlich, The Population Bomb, which speculated and forewarned about mass starvations in the 70s and 80s due to overpopulation. As the movie was filmed in 1985, when the US and global economy was on a pretty positive upswing, the fear of a worldwide famine wasn’t really a threat anymore. Not that we real 2015ers handled the Y2K panic any better though, right?
See Also: Hex: Cursed Movies of Hollywood
So, is there anything else that the Back to the Future trilogy predicted right? Yeah, that’s right… predicted! Let me know in the comments section below – haters, be gone!