Monday, October 19, 2015

Recap: "Back to the Future Part II" Intro

Soon enough, we won't even need these cheat sheets anymore.

2 more days!
And pretty soon, we won't have to put up with any more of those lame Back to the Future Part 2 hoaxes.

Seriously, people, it's not hard to fact-check these.
So I guess the next big date to wait for is February 14th, 2016, which is when a psychic lady from Ghostbusters 2 said the world was going to end.

"Valentine's Day. Bummer."
Speaking of sequels, we've got a Back to the Future one to recap. But first of all, we have to talk about why they ended up going back to Back to the Future.

So lets go back to the past.

Or what used to be the present, because to them, this is the future... oh, never mind.
When it comes to the relationship between creators and companies, it can be very easy to develop strong feelings about “ownership.” Not in terms of who actually owns certain rights, but who should own the rights. Whether it be Alan Moore vs. DC Comics regarding Watchmen, or Siegel & Schuster vs. DC regarding Superboy, George Lucas vs. Disney regarding Star Wars, or Marvel vs. Fox regarding the X-Men and Fantastic Four films, people get very opinionated on who “deserves” the rights.

You had your chance and you blew it, Fox! Let Marvel have a go!
Now, I’m not here to discuss any of those cases (although I’m sure somebody in the comments no doubt will), I’m here to bring up another such case. There were no legal battles (well, none that involved copyright, that is), but Bob Gale and Robert Zemeckis had a bit of an issue with Universal. Back to the Future was a huge hit. So Universal decided that sequels were the only way to go. When Gale and Zemeckis protested, Universal basically told them that if they don’t make the sequel, then they’ll find somebody else who will.

I’m not entirely sure how true this information is, though, since Gale and Zemeckis supposedly have any and all sequel rights to Back to the Future, but for whatever reason, they agreed to come back as long as the major cast members also returned to reprise their roles. While Michael J. Fox and Christopher Lloyd agreed to return, there were a couple actors who declined the offer.

Claudia Wells, who played Jennifer, was replaced by Elizabeth Shue when Wells bowed out of the role after her mother developed cancer. As for Crispin Glover, he wanted more money than the $125,000 that the studio was willing to fork over. So they replaced him with Jeffrey Weissman, who was given heavy facial prosthetics to make him look like Crispin Glover. On top of that, they added sunglasses, put him in the background, and even hung him upside-down for one scene to keep the change in cast a secret. And on top of that, they used stock footage of Glover from the first film whenever they could. This wound up backfiring. Thanks to a lawsuit filed by Mr. Glover, there are now Screen Actors’ Guild policies that prevent films from unlawfully reproducing the likeness of other actors.

The change in cast necessitated altering the script heavily to eliminate as much of George McFly’s presence as they could. The first draft of the script was written by Bob Gale while Robert Zemeckis was off making 1988’s Who Framed Roger Rabbit. It originally took place in the 60’s, with Marty having to ensure his own conception, but that was dropped when Zemeckis returned. Good thing, too. That would have been hard to do without Crispin Glover. Can’t very well have George McFly not be there for his own son’s conception, right?

Well… they could always have Marty turn out to be his own dad… but I think that might have given the movie an R-rating.

Or TV-14, at any rate.
So while they had to work out a few kinks with the past, the idea of going to the future had been there since the original script. Zemeckis was initially against this, too, because he felt that any time a film tried to show the future, it would always end up looking silly and dated. The problem was solved by intentionally making the future look silly and dated. They also tried to make it look like a nice place to live, as opposed to the Orwellian dystopias that were so popular in the 80’s.

None of this.
I brought up this in regards to Iron Man 2, but it bears repeating. In an interview with Travis Knight of Laika (in a Den of Geek article about the postponed Back to the Future musical), it was brought up that if you're going to tell a story, it should be a pivotal event in the protagonist's life. So why sequels are inherently tricky is because you've probably already used up the most pivotal moment in their life in the first part, and now have to settle for the second. That's why things often escalate for sequels; to counteract this.
And boy howdy, this sequel was going to be packed with action, thrills, time travel, you name it. The two sequels were shot back to back, as they were originally planned to be a single movie with the working title of “Paradox.”

And… well, there you have it.

The process of making the film was actually pretty straight forward. 90% of the cast returned, the film smoothly went through some rewrites before filming, and it went on to be released November 22, 1989.

It... didn’t do too well. It did fine, earning $118.5 million in the US and $332 million worldwide, but it still placed behind movies like Batman and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, which proved to be bigger draws.

It met mixed reactions too, as opposed to the near-unanimous praise of the first one.

So what happened? Did going bigger and better fall flat? Was this just a retread of the first film? Well, get off that hoverboard, grab your Pepsi Perfect, turn off all six channels on your TV screen, and put down your Doc Brown LEGO minifigs.

That means you too, Doc.
It’s time to go back to the future a second time.

Coming up in Part 1! Back to the… present?


  1. My humble opinion? If creators got to own their characters, then Rob Liefeld would get tons of money for Deadpool movie. Don't think so.

    Few years ago ex-writer Ken Penders demanded royalties from Archie for using his characters in Sonic The Hedgehog comics. To make long and convoluted story short, Archie rebooted comic and got rid of all characters created by their ex-writers, just to be safe.

    Besides, characters were often created by many people. Someone came up with them, someone else drew them. Should artist get screwed over or should writers own the rights to characters, but not their designs?

    And if Marvel had all the rights, we would get 3th season of Spectacular Spider-Man.
    Yeah, I think original companies should own stuff. Its not perfect solution, but the best one we have. Like democracy!

    1. Yeah, as much as it kind of sucks sometimes, I think that there are times when corporations should have certain intellectual property rights.

      I mean, if the estate of a dead writer is just going to sit on a character and collect royalties for existing works, then I think that's just a waste of a character who could still be utilized in new stories. But that's not to say I think this should always be the case.

      Aaaaaaand I'm stopping myself now before I get a few thousand words in.

      Long story short, I think it's really a case-by-case thing with no easy answers.

  2. Assuming we'll survive Valentines next is... April 5, 2063, Vulcans arriving? I don't know, is there a list for these?

    - Faceless Enigma

    1. Maybe Wikipedia has a list of important dates in fiction?