From the moment Back to the Future Part II hit theaters, a dream was born in the hearts of children everywhere (see: me) who so desperately wanted a hoverboard, the fictionalized hovering skateboard featured in the movie, to be real. With dreams of being able to float over pavement — but not water; everyone knows that hoverboards don’t work on water — dashed, some of us took solace in the idea that maybe such a toy was possible in 2015. That is the year, after all, is when the movie takes place.
Well, friends, the future has arrived. I stumbled upon an article about a man named Ryan Craven who claims to have built his own functional hoverboard out of a series of leaf blowers. He even put step by step instructions on his website. It’s fitting that in 2015, hoverboards (or an approximation of them) will finally jump from the world of science fiction and into reality.
This got me thinking about the new year, the world we live in, and the world as depicted in BTTFII. What did filmmakers correctly predict? What predictions haven’t (yet) come true? Here are 7 predictions for the new year, as based on Back to the Future’s version of 2015.
1. The flying car will sort of, kind of become a reality
Earlier this year, a Slovakian company debuted a prototype of what they’re calling the AeroMobil 3.0, a “flying car.” While far from the still-futuristic-looking models seen hovering above Hill Valley, one Slovakian start-up had developed what they’re calling “the world’s most advanced flying car.” Called the AeroMobil 3.0, the car debuted earlier this year at Vienna, Austria’s Pioneer Festival. The vehicle can safely navigate the roads, but has the potential for flight up to 9,800 feet at a top speed of 100 miles per hour. Now, does this mean we’re soon to find ourselves buzzing around the skies? Extremely unlikely. Even so, it’s pretty cool.
2. Video chat will become a widely-used form of communication
Here’s one that BTTF got right. In the film, 2015’s Marty McFly (Michael J. Fox) hops on a video call with Needles (Red Hot Chili Peppers bassist Flea). At the time, the idea of being able to visually communicate with others from remote locations seemed as far out as the flying car. As we all know, services ranging from Skype to FaceTime have not only popularized the communication, but have shrunken it to the point of being part of a device that fits in the palm of our hands.
3. The Chicago Cubs will win the 2015 World Series
Baseball fans — especially those of us from Chicago — are acutely aware of one very depressing fact: the Chicago Cubs will always be awful. Always. If Benjamin Franklin said, “In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes,” I’d like to expand that to death, taxes, and Cubs futility.
The Cubs last won the World Series in 1908. For frame of reference, here are a few of the many things that have occurred since then: women were granted the right to vote, penicillin was discovered, the Ottoman Empire fell, we landed on the moon, we expanded from 46 to 50 states (adding Alaska, Arizona, Hawaii, and New Mexico). In other words, it’s been a laughably long time since the Cubs won the World Series.
Back to the Future uses this as a bit of a joke, with one of the first 2015 scenes featuring a bewildered Marty McFly staring at an interactive billboard declaring the Cubs 2015 World Series champions.
As is so frequently the case, the Cubs had a disastrous 2014 season, finishing last place in their division with a 73-89 record. Experts expected little more from the Cubs for the 2015 season, with oddsmakers listing their chance of victory at 50-1. That was up until last week when the team signed former Boston Red Sox and Oakland Athletics pitcher Jon Lester to be a part of their 2015 starting rotation. Immediately, oddsmakers shifted their 2015 predictions, improving the team’s odds to just 12-1, Sports Illustrated put Lester on their most recent cover, and suddenly, a lot of people are asking themselves if the Cubs might bring it home this season. Stranger things have happened.
4. We’ll all ditch the internet in favor of a return to fax machines
Sorry, folks, this just isn’t going to happen. While aspects of communication are accurately predicted — such as the aforementioned video chat capability, the “news-as-it-happens” updates to major publications, the development of pocket-sized cameras, and biometric-based security features — here’s one where the filmmakers seem to have put too many eggs in the “fax” basket.
When BTTF‘s 2015 edition of USA Today updates to feature breaking news about Griff and his gang’s arrest, the headline reads, “via Compu-Fax Satellite.” While this sort of update is remarkably similar to app and website updates, faxes are about the furthest thing from cutting edge technology these days.
5. Self-lacing shoes will become the best thing since velcro
One of the cooler, futuristic gadgets seen in BTTF Part II are Marty McFly’s self-lacing Nike sneakers (along with his self-fitting and -drying jacket). A novel concept, many of the film’s viewers believed these time-saving sneakers were an actual product, and reached out to Nike in hopes of getting their hands on them. In 2011, the company released (regular-laced) replicas of the shoes, and the company has indicated that in 2015, they’ll be releasing the real deal!
6. Fashion’s about to get really weird.
From Marty’s holographic, rainbow-colored hat to the trend of wearing one’s pants inside out to whatever that thing on Griff’s head is, the style of BTTF‘s 2015 is, for lack of a better term, interesting. Still, looking back at some of the more eclectic fashion of years’ past (see: Lady Gaga’s meat dress), I’m not sure real-life 2015 is in any position to criticize. Still, Marty McFly’s holographic hat does exist and is for sale IRL for less than $30. Just don’t expect it to be a major trend this year.
7. Hands-free video games will continue to become more mainstream
Filing this one under: nailed it. In BTTF, Marty pops into Cafe ’80s where he sees two kids looking at an arcade game. One of the kids (who just happens to be a Elijah Wood!) says, “You mean you have to use your hands?” As predicted, we’re now deep into the era of hands-free gaming. With systems like XBox Kinnect and Nintendo Wii, we’re long past the side-scrolling days of the ’80s.
Obviously, in making this movie, the creators weren’t actually trying to predict the future. Director Robert Zemeckis has said time and again that he wasn’t aiming for accuracy, but simply trying to make a fun sci-fi movie taking place in a somewhat arbitrary future. He knew that flying cars wouldn’t be commercially viable by 2015, but still, isn’t it fun to dream? For a film from 1989—the year that brought us the fall of the Berlin wall and the birth of one, Taylor Alison Swift—to correctly predict anything is somewhat remarkable.
Happy futuristic New Year, everyone!