Back in 1989, Americans marveled at what the year 2015 might look like in the popular film Back to the Future II. The second installment in the time-traveling trilogy focused heavily on Marty McFly and his girlfriend being taken by their pal Doc Brown 30 years into the future and seeing what life was going to be like.
Well, 2015 has arrived. What predictions did the filmmakers get right? What did they get wrong? Here are 15 things Back to the Future II predicted would happen by 2015. You’ll find some predictions were eerily accurate while many others were way off.
15. Flying Cars
Back to the Future II begins where the first movie ended. Doc picks up Marty and his girlfriend in the DeLorean and says to everyone’s excitement: “Where we’re going we don’t need roads.” At that point the three of them fly into the future.
In 2015 the DeLorean isn’t the only car that flies. Flying cars had become the norm. New cars came with the ability standard and old cars had flying converters put on them for only about $40,000.
Sadly this prediction has not come true. We all drive with our wheels on the ground just like we’ve been doing since Henry Ford was putting out the first Model T. We have had the technology for flight for around the same time we’ve had cars, but it just remains too costly for everyone to have their own personal flying vehicles.
14. Hover Boards
Every kid hoped beyond hope for a hover board. As a child of the ’80s I remember the constant urban legends and rumors that there really were hover boards but only certain elite people secretly had them. ABC’s show The Goldbergs recently focused a whole episode on this phenomenon:
We were sure back in the 1980s that it was only a matter of time before we all had our hover boards. That excitement hasn’t waned when you consider a fake video with Tony Hawk about hover boards went instantly viral:
Let’s keep crossing our fingers for this one.
13. Very Unique Attire
Fashion is a constantly changing part of culture and 2015 is just beginning, but I’m pretty sure we won’t be dressing the way Back to the Future II predicted. Much of the attire in the movie looks more ’80s then it does 2015. It appeared plastic was more common than cotton, for example.
One thing the movie did get right was the prediction that technology would play a big part in making clothing more practical. While they had jackets that would air dry you off, athletes today have special material that wicks away sweat. It’s not quite as cool but at least similar. However, I’m pretty sure we will never start wearing double ties.
12. Dehydrated Meals
In the future home of Marty McFly we saw a lot of predictions. One of those showed how people would eat differently. While we do still see fresh fruit being consumed, the big mis-prediction was a reliance on dehydrated food. In the film the family took a tiny dehydrated pizza and then put it in a food re-hydrator to make a giant pizza.
Today we know how to dehydrate and rehydrate food but nothing as complex as pizza. And in recent years, American diets have turned away from complicated foods, toward more simple habits like clean eating and the paleo diet.
11. Compost Fuel
Doc Brown powers the DeLorean with trash compost. He no longer needs gas but uses food waste right out of the trash can to give it basic propulsion power. Of course, today alternative forms of fuels are very popular. Using corn in our fuel at least partially is today’s norm. Some people even jerry-rig their vehicles to put old restaurant grease in them. But that isn’t so commonplace yet. And the norm for today is definitely not being able to power our cars just from what’s in our trash cans.
10. Families Obsessed with Personal Electronics
Around the McFly dinner table we see both kids with things that look a whole lot like Google Glass. Now while that particular product isn’t universal yet, the American family’s obsession with personal technology is at an all-time high. Most dinner tables are surrounded with kids and parents constantly checking their phones to see who is sending them messages or posting important information online. The movie was dead on with this prediction.
9. Video Conferencing
Might be hard to believe, but back in 1989 there was no such thing as video conferencing. So the filmmakers were pretty prophetic when they showed the future Marty McFly having a video conference with someone from work and then his boss.
Anyone in the business world knows that video conferencing is not only available but becoming more and more popular.
8. A Baseball Team in Miami
Marty can’t believe it when he sees a baseball team from Miami, Florida. They look like they might be called the Miami Gators or something. At the time of the film there was no baseball team in Miami, so it was a blind prediction. But this prediction came true. Today we have the Florida Marlins, who do play in Miami.
7. Cubs Win World Series
Marty is shocked when he sees Miami has a baseball team but should have been more shocked to see the Cubs as the World Series champs. Of course, the Cubs, even 26 years after Back to the Future II‘s release, are still the perennial losers of the baseball diamond. However, since this season has yet to begin, every true Cubbie fan is still holding out hope that this is one prediction that will still come true.
6. Popularity of 3D Movies and Sequels
In 1989, there was already a reliance on sequels in Hollywood to generate ticket sales, but 3D movies were not popular. Today every big-budget blockbuster is made with a 3D version for people to sink their eyes into and most major theaters have at least a couple of 3D options.
We haven’t had Jaws 19 yet, but considering how excited we are for episodes 7-9 of Star Wars, the idea isn’t so far off. And we can’t wait to see it in 3D.
5. Wireless Video Games
Obviously the movie got this prediction right. Wireless video gaming has become very popular over the last decade as seen with the popularity of Nintendo Wii and Xbox Kinect. Marty shows off his old-school video game skills to some kids at a retro restaurant. They can’t believe he has to use his hands to play the game and call it a baby’s toy.
4. Fax Machine Dominance
Marty McFly’s 2015 home has a fax machine in every single little room or closet. Fax machines were everywhere! Today fax machines are almost nowhere. This is one of the clearest examples of an incorrect prediction.
Marty was fired by his boss from Japan by receiving countless faxes saying “you’re fired!” Today you might get fired if you thought faxes were the best way to pass on information in the business world.
3. Weather Control
There is debate over whether Doc Brown was saying people were insanely good at predicting weather in 2015 or if they actually controlled it. I tend to believe the movie was predicting we’d be able to somehow control the weather now. Oh, if that were only true. Not only can we not control the weather, but the weather has become a constant political football with the debate over climate change. There is very little we seem to control about the weather today.
2. Thumbprint Technology
In the predicted 2015 we were using thumbprints for everything from entering our homes to making purchases. While we don’t break out our thumbs for home entry today, anyone with an iPhone already is using thumbprint technology for purchases. There’s even a scene where Marty has a guy put a tablet-looking device in front of him and he’s told to simply put his thumbprint down to make a donation. Pretty solid prediction.
1. Massive Inflation
Obviously inflation is a reality for our nation, but not the kind we saw in Back to the Future II. When Marty goes to buy a simple bottle of Pepsi it costs $50. Considering that would be $1.50 – $2.00 today means they got that one way off. That amount of inflation would be unsustainable and would have wreaked havoc on our nation. I’m thankful the moviemakers got this one wrong.
Well, the year is just beginning, so maybe we can still make some of these happen before the year ends. I’m still hoping for hover boards. Just make sure if they come out that you don’t just fax me about it.