Okay, so we don’t exactly have auto-drying clothes or flying cars. But as a fan of Back to the Future, I kind of think that there are things in our time that Doc and Marty didn’t see coming. Here’s a short list of things I love about 2015 that didn’t exist in the 80s. (Granted I’m not an 80s kid.) I’m gonna avoid the obvious Obama being President thing because Back to the Future had an African-American mayor. Having a black President wasn’t exactly an inconceivable thing in the 80s.
So without further ado, 15 Awesome Things About 2015 That Back to the Future Didn’t See Coming
1) Comic Book Franchises Being Successful
Back in the day, superhero movies and TV shows were laughable things. Special effects weren’t the way they are now and the costumes (from what I’ve seen) are even more ridiculous looking than the stuff Marvel ships out now. Hard to believe, I know. But I don’t think anyone back then could’ve anticipated the idea that comic book movies could actually be a lucrative success. We’re really blessed that Marvel has handled the comic book universe spectacularly well. Age of Ultron may have been problematic, but at the same time, it’s just amazing that millions of people can invest emotions, time, and money into these characters. The writing and direction for most of the Marvel Cinematic Universe has been amazing and I can’t wait to see what will come around next.
2) Technology becoming smarter and smaller
We may not have robot waiters, but smart watches are becoming more commonplace. With the rise of fitbit and similar devices that can track our health while working out, we have a whole new way of monitoring our well being. Also, even though we don’t have a Mister Fusion, we have electric cars and hybrids.
PCs have become slimmer, replaced by laptops or tablets. Walkmans have been replaced by smart phones that also function as portable music players. Not to mention the existence of blu-ray and DVD.
3) A change in popes
Back to the Future Part II came out in 1989, which was also the same year that the Berlin Wall came down. While most Americans credit the politics of then-president Ronald Reagan, Catholics know that Pope John Paul II had an equally prominent role in influencing the fall of communism as well.
I don’t think anyone expected Pope John Paul II to have such a long papacy in the 80s. Of course, none of us expected his successor, Pope Benedict XVI to abdicate the papacy. Also…
5) The Star Wars Franchise
Granted the movie theatre in 2015 showed ads for “Jaws 19,” but I don’t think anyone could’ve predicted that Star Wars would’ve expanded beyond the original trilogy. Yes, the prequels suck, but Star Wars Rebels is doing really well (or so I heard) and, as of now, we have a brand new Star Wars movie coming out in December!
6) The rise of fantasy
Back in the day, fantasy was just “nerdy,” the stuff that Dungeons and Dragons games were made of. Either that or it was just for kids, because fantasy movies weren’t profitable at the time. Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, and Game of Thrones are currently the three most successful fantasy franchises to date.
7) Social Media
It seems like hashtags are everywhere nowadays. Heck, hashtags have become a part of our vocabulary. We post, snap, and tweet every little bit of news and information and anything going on in our lives. Friendships have taken on a completely different nature. We can literally become friends with someone who lives on the other side of the world now and feel closer to them than with people who live down the block.
In the 80s, the biggest musicals were Cats, Phantom of the Opera, and Les Miserables. But who would’ve expected musicals like Hamilton or Wicked to exist? Not to mention that musicals are a profitable movie genre. Pitch Perfect 2 beat Mad Max Fury Road in the box office and Chicago won the Oscar for Best Picture in 2002.
9) Awesome new cartoons on TV and in movies.
In the 80s, cartoons were created mostly to sell toys. Nowadays, good cartoons such as Steven Universe and Avatar: The Last Airbender focus on creating complicated characters and dramatic storylines that are usually seen in more grown up material.
The same applies to all of the Disney/Pixar movies. I don’t think anyone could’ve anticipated the success of animated movies such as Toy Story and Frozen. Heck, the Oscars created categories just for animated films and shorts because Beauty and the Beast was nominated for an Oscar.
Even though animation is just a bunch of lines and colors, these lines and colors become characters we wish we were real and the stories of these characters are stuff that we can all relate to. Which is a heck of a long way from the soap opera-type storylines of Jem and the Holograms.
10) The Boston Red Sox winning the World Series. Twice.
Not twice in a row, but granted, winning at all is unbelievable enough! I think it’s telling that Back to the Future II chose to use the Cubs instead of the Red Sox for their 2015 World Series winners pick because I don’t think anyone could’ve thought that the Red Sox would win.
11) The rise of reality TV
Granted reality TV was just getting started in the 80s, with the premiere of The Real World on MTV. But now, reality TV has become such a part of the culture that people can be famous just for being famous. Whether or not this is a good thing is honestly debatable. But I do like cooking shows and Project Runway.
12) Doctor Who becoming the comeback kid.
During the 80s, Doctor Who wasn’t the phenomenon that it is right now. At the time, Doctor Who was really close to being cancelled. It was the era of the 7th Doctor and the BBC was run by someone who hated the show. I honestly don’t know how many Americans were familiar with Classic Doctor Who at the time being. I mean, cable was in its infancy in the 80s. There was an attempt to revive the show in the 90s, but it wasn’t until the mid 2000s that Doctor Who came back. By the time I was in college, the show exploded into a cultural phenomenon.
13) Strong female characters.
In the 80s, action movies were mostly a testosterone factory. Female characters in the 80s and a lot of 90s movies/shows weren’t as developed as men. They were either the damsels in distress or defrosting ice queens that needed men in order to act like actual human beings.
I’m not a fan of the Shondaland TV shows, but I will admit that she’s great at creating complex and realistically flawed female leads. But honestly, I prefer Agent Carter and Buffy because Peggy and Buffy are complicated and flawed heroes as opposed to anti-heroes. Complex and flawed female heroes can also be seen in Game of Thrones and Doctor Who.
The only exceptions to the 80s movies sausage fest were True Lies, Aliens, and Terminator 2. Now what do those three movies have in common?
14) The highest grossing movies of all time are…
Pocahontas in Space
A love story that takes place on the most famous sunken cruise liner of all time.
Both written and directed by James Cameron, who also wrote and directed those women-empowering 80s movies mentioned before.
15) The rise of the supernatural
Who’d have thunk that vampires, zombies, werewolves, and everything that falls under the category of “horror” would become popular? Interview with a Vampire came out in 1994 and started a vampire craze that still continues on today. The most popular shows right now are The Walking Dead, Teen Wolf, Supernatural, Scream Queens, True Blood, and The Vampire Diaries, all of which revolve around the supernatural.
In the 80s, supernatural things were the stuff of “so bad it’s good” B movies. But now, like with other genres, writers have created characters that are complicated and flawed and compel people to sympathize and relate to them.
If I missed anything, feel free to comment!