In an age where virtually every recognizable movie or franchise under the sun has been subjected to a remake or reboot, Back to the Future has thankfully remained safe. There are very few pics that are genuinely deemed as untouchable, but the 1985 classic can definitely be called one of them.
The time traveling adventure is about as close to perfect as populist filmmaking could ever hope to get, and endures as one of the most beloved and rewatchable movies ever made. You’d be very hard pressed to find any self-respecting film fan that hasn’t seen Back to the Future at least a handful of times, and finding someone that says they don’t care for it is next to impossible.
There was a groundswell of support building behind the idea of Robert Downey Jr. and Tom Holland starring in a remake as Doc Brown and Marty McFly respectively, and the Deepfake video that followed made it look as though they were the perfect modern day fits for the iconic characters. However, in a recent interview, co-writer Bob Gale explained that the success of Back to the Future was about much more than the central concept, and revealed why anyone else would struggle to replicate that magic.
“The thing that people don’t always understand about Back to the Future and what really makes it work, because people say, ‘Oh, let’s do a time travel series’. Well, okay, time travel series are really hard to pull off. Back to the Future works because it’s the story of this family, and time travel is an element of it, but you are totally with those characters. It’s a terrific dramatization of a moment that every human being has in their life, which is the moment when we’re kids and we suddenly realize, ‘Oh, my God, my parents were once kids, too’. By the time you’re five or six years old, you look at your parents and they’re these God-like figures, and they don’t age, as far as you can tell. They must have always been there, and then suddenly, by the time you’re seven, eight, nine, you suddenly start putting it together, that, ‘My parents were once kids’. That is the power of Back to the Future. It’s the human stuff. It’s not the logistics of traveling through time because, frankly, you look at a time travel series, both things that they’ve done on television and things that they’ve done in comic books, and they fall into this trap of using time travel as a plot mechanism.”
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That’s an awfully long-winded way of saying that Robert Zemeckis owns the rights and has made it abundantly clear that they’ll need to pried from his cold dead hands before anyone can even think about a remake or a reboot, but Gale went on to note that there’s plenty of additional material out there that comes with the original creative team’s seal of approval.
“IDW did a comic book series that’s very, very good. I was a consultant on it. They’ve all been reprinted in graphic novels now, so for those who want more Back to the Future that really ties in closely with the Back to the Future canon, I would recommend those. Telltale did a Back to the Future video game back in 2011, and again, I was a consultant on that. That’s a very, very good Back to the Future. It deserves the Back to the Future name on it. We did two seasons of Saturday morning cartoons of Back to the Future, animated, for CBS, so those are out there, and those, for what they are, they’re very, very good.”
Truth be told, Back to the Future is much better off left alone, because any new spin on the story is guaranteed to come off as a pale imitation of one of the finest blockbusters that we’ll ever see. And it would no doubt tarnish the excellent reputation the series continues to uphold.