In the movie Back to the Future Part II, Marty McFly goes forward in time with his girlfriend Jennifer and Doc Brown to October 21, 2015 because, as Doc tells them, their kids are in trouble. The resulting hijinks necessitate returning to 1955 and then, in the third movie, going even farther back to 1885. With 2015 rounding to an end soon, I thought this would be a nice chance to indulge my inner BttF geek and see what the movie got right and wrong about this year.
The Chicago Cubs Win the World Series
As of today, the Cubs are in the NLCS, trying to beat the Mets to get to the World Series. This prediction is close – the Cubs haven’t made it this far into the post season since 2003 – but not quite there yet. In 1989, when the movie was made, baseball’s postseason finished earlier than it does now so it would have made sense to the screenwriters that the World Series would be over by the date given in the movie.
Along the same lines, BttF II also predicted a professional baseball team in Miami by 2015. In 1993, the Florida Marlins became Florida’s first MLB team, followed by the Tampa Bay Rays in 1998.
The old man who bugs Marty in front of the old courthouse is seeking donations to save the clock tower – again – hands Marty what we would think of as a tablet to use his thumb to transfer money. That predicts two technologies that we can use today: a handheld computing device such as an iPad and biometric identification for smartphones and computers.
Flat Screen Televisions and Video Conferencing
In the movie, Future Marty has at least two telephone conversations on a flatscreen television. These conversations look familiar to Skype and FaceTime users, who will think nothing of something that seemed so innovative in 1989. As for the televisions, it’s rare to find a television in the average home that isn’t flatscreen. In fact, flatscreens continue to evolve in their ubiquity and the CRT televisions that the filmmakers would have several of in their homes are long gone for most of us.
Obsession with Movie Sequels
Walking around the town square, Marty encounters a holographic ad for a new movie: Jaws 19. If that were today, it would more than likely be a hologram of Vin Diesel driving toward you instead. Sequels are big money just as Back to the Future Part II predicted. How many Fast and Furious movies are we on? How many different Transformers sequels have been made? The sequel is indeed alive and well in 2015.
Wireless and Hands-Free Gaming
When Marty McFly shows two kids (cough – Elijah Wood – cough) how to play the Wild Gunman arcade game in Café 80s, the kids scoff at the game because it requires players to use their hands for the game (“That’s like a baby’s toy!”). The concept that one can play a game wirelessly and hands-free is now reality. Wireless controllers are now commonplace for most gaming consoles and innovations like the Xbox’s Kinect controllers allow for hands-free gaming as well. Good job, screenwriters!
Marty’s teenage children in the movie are consumed by the devices that each sport, both to the point that they barely interact with their parents and grandparents. While we may not have the exact technologies they are using yet, though similar ones do exist, the sentiment is the same: we enjoy our personal electronic like smartphones and tablets to the point where we have conversations with people who are not present while being in the presence of our family and friends. Zemeckis was quite prescient in predicting how consumed we can become by our devices.
Sure, Back to the Future Part II has other predictions about 2015, too many to cover here. Help us out by giving the ones you’ve noticed in the comments.