Lately I had been thinking about time travel in movies lately since I saw Terminator Genisys. I wanna take this moment to talk about time travel in movies, which ones I think got it right and ones that I feel are wrong and why they are.
Let’s start with Back to the Future. Great movies, but I feel they got most of it wrong. I buy that someone would fade away like they never exist, but I doubt that Marty would stop fading away because he got his parents together. Because, Marty came from a future where his father was a loser, not an acclaimed writer and wouldn’t there be another Marty in that 1985 living the good life. Also the end when Marty returns to the future he saw himself go back in time, he already caused the change, wouldn’t this new Marty going back in time cause some kind of other change?
Now we have The Time Machine and Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines. Both movies claim that time has a way of “balancing itself out” like if you cause a change, it will happen a different way. Like in Terminator 3, they didn’t stop Judgment Day in T2, but merely postponed it from 1997 to 2003. People argue that that makes sense because if the war doesn’t happen, then Kyle Reese wouldn’t have gone back in time, and John Connor wouldn’t be born. I argue that’s bull, because Kyle Reese came from a future where Judgment Day happened in 1997, not 2003, if he wen’t back in time then he would cause a new timeline. Same with The Time Machine, Guy Pearce went back in time to save his girlfriend from being killed by a mugger, he does, then she gets run over by horses. Because she has to die or he wouldn’t have built the time machine. Again, he built the time machine because she was killed by a mugger, not because she was run over by horses. Which brings up the other problem with the Time Machine, if he went back in time, wouldn’t there be another version of himself, because there wasn’t. Are they saying that his past self at the time he traveled back to teleported into the time machine?
Looper got some things right, but the problem with that is, Bruce Willis went back in time to save his wife from being killed by the Rainmaker, but he ends up creating Rainmaker. That doesn’t work because in the original timeline his future self was killed by his past self. I buy the rest.
I feel Terminator got it right. Terminator established the Predestination Paradox or the Loop Theory. I think of it like a schedule, everything on the schedule will happen, even the time traveler’s presence will be part of the schedule. Kyle Reese and the Terminator traveling back in time were part of the schedule and give birth to John Connor and Skynet. Like, if I went back in time to save Kennedy, something would stop me, like I’d probably get hit by a car because that was part of the schedule.
Terminator 2 also. I believe they can change the future and it wouldn’t effect your existence, like preventing Judgment Day without John Connor erasing like Back to the Future. Here’s a good example from the Terminator TV series. In Sarah Connor Chronicles, Kyle Reese’s brother Derek and his friend Billy Wisher were put in a Skynet war camp where Wisher revealed that his real name is Andy Goode and confessed that he was the creator of Skynet. After escaping the war camp, Connor sent Derek and other Resistance fighters back in time to aid his past self, Sarah, and their Terminator guardian Cameron. While in the past, Derek tracked down Andy Goode and killed him. If he killed him, he couldn’t meet him in the future, and wouldn’t he no longer exist? Also in the series, Derek’s girlfriend Jesse from the future finds a Gray, a human helping Skynet, she claims that he experimented on Derek in the future, but Derek has no memory of this. Derek concluded that he and Jesse were from different timelines due to the changes they keep causing in the present. In conclusion, changing the future causes diverting timelines and it doesn’t change your existence, like you could go back in time and kill your grandfather and you wouldn’t fade away. It just makes sense to me, I just don’t like T3.
Those are my theories of time travel in movies.