Did ‘Back to the Future II’ Predict the Future?

By Phill Powell

In Back to the Future Part II, the 1989 sequel to the original 1985 blockbuster, hero Marty McFly (Michael J. Fox) travels to the future. When he arrives in 2015, he finds the future is full of new inventions. Well, here we are in that future world of 2015. Did Back to the Future II get it right?

Well, for the most part, yes.

nike-mag
Still no flying cars or hoverboards, but Nike has released the Nike Mag (above) and will re-release it in 2015 – with power laces.

Director Robert Zemeckis has stated he believes no one can accurately predict the future, and that was a message he hoped the sequel would convey. Still BTTFII was eerily accurate about the future:

  • Flat Screen TVs: The TVs shown in Back to the Future Part II are like our modern ones: big, rectangular (16 x 9 aspect ratio) and flat. At the time the film was made, the majority of American homes had boxy tube TVs (4 x 3 aspect ratio).
  • Routine Plastic Surgery: Various TV commercials and other advertising for plastic surgery suggest an image-obsessed culture. Even Doc Brown gets in on it: He has an “all-natural overhaul,” which he explains: “They took out some wrinkles, did a hair repair and a change of blood.”
  • Handheld Computers: In Pt. II, Marty is approached by a member of the Hill Valley Preservation Society, which wants him to sign a petition on a handheld, electronic tablet.
  • A Major League Baseball Team in Florida: The movie predicted that in 2015, the Chicago Cubs would beat a Florida Major League Baseball team. That prediction can’t come true, because the Cubs and the Florida team that emerged in 1993 – the Florida Marlins – are both in the National League. The Marlins captured World Series titles in 1997 and 2003. Florida got its second MLB team in 1998, with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays.

back-to-the-future-hoverboard

  • Hoverboards: Marty uses a hoverboard to escape some bullies on main street. Lexus announced they developed a hover board – that could be available by end 2015.
  • Hands-Free Video Gaming: Marty schools a couple of kids (Elijah Wood is one of the actors, he made his acting debut in Back to the Future II) on an old Nintendo video arcade game called “Wild Gunman.” But the kids aren’t impressed, because the game requires him to use his hands. “That’s like a baby’s toy!” complains one kid.
  • Popularity of 3D Movies & Sequel-itis: Marty comes across a theater playing Jaws 19 in 3D. Zemeckis is poking fun at the sequels that dominate Hollywood, as well as Hollywood’s reliance on gimmicks like 3D.
  • Nike Mag: These were the space-age high tops Marty wore in BTTFII. The shoe was actually released in 2011 in a limited, special edition run. Nike has confirmed we’ll see a Nike Mag release in 2015 – with power laces.
  • TV Viewing Options & Video Conferencing: Marty has a video chat with his boss (played by Flea, of the Red Hot Chili Peppers), predicting the new business reality of remote work. In another scene, Marty’s watching six different channels at once.
  • Electronics Obsession: In one chaotic scene around the kitchen table, we see an older Marty talking to his mother, while the kids are wearing wrap-around shades that also act as telephones. They are completely into their tech. Sound familiar?


Gadgets like Pizza re-hydrators and head-mounted phones fill Back to the Future II.

“Where We’re Going, We Don’t Need Roads.”
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