My Favorite Temporal Paradoxes in Movies
Figuring out Time Machine speeds reminded me about my all time favorite temporal anomalies and paradoxes. For those of you unfamiliar with Star Trek or comic books or science fiction of any kind, a temporal anomaly is any sort of change a time traveler causes in his or her many wacky time travel adventures. It's the butterfly effect, where a butterfly's wings in the past cause this thing to happen that cause this other thing to happen and so on and so on until Toaster Strudels were never invented. A temporal paradox is a temporal anomaly which causes the time traveler to never go back in time to create the temporal anomaly that made him never go back in time. Huh? This is how perfectly good universes are ruined.
Back to the Future II for example has my all time favorite paradox. To avoid spoilers, I suggest if you've never seen Back to the Future II to leave this website and never return. Go on... I'm not kidding... hit the back button, it's in the upper left corner there.
The original Back to the Future was about Marty McFly trying to stop a paradox from happening, i.e. changing the past to prevent his birth and consequently never going back in time to change the past that prevented his birth. Back to the Future II, however, throws out all pretense of temporal anomalies in favor of hover boards. Robert Zemeckis and Steven Spielberg don't want you to look at the plot, they want you to look at hover boards. Look there's a hover board. Don't look at the temporal paradox. Four hover boards and a baseball bat! Don't look at the paradox. But we all looked at the paradox, even as a young boy I knew something just wasn't right.
Old Biff stole the DeLorean and gave young Biff the Gray's Sports Almanac from the future, which created an alternate timeline. Doc and Marty travel back to alternate 1985 and wackiness ensues (gambling and fires and shotguns, oh my). They then travel further back in time to prevent all this from happening. The problem is the timeline veers the moment old Biff gives young Biff the sports almanac meaning old Biff could never travel back to his original timeline to conveniently drop off the time machine for Doc and Marty to travel back in time in. Old Biff would travel to a future 2015 where he was a millionaire and Hill Valley was in ruins. Furthermore, alternate Biff muddied the timeline enough to prevent time travel from being invented and Doc Brown and Marty from ever meeting: Doc was in an insane asylum and Marty was sent to private school.
Old Biff should have given young Biff the almanac and then the universe should have imploded, where old Biff and young Biff float in a white void of nothingness calling each other “Butt Head” for rest of eternity.
Some of my other Favorite Paradoxes
Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure
Bill & Ted is actually a temporal unodox: meaning nothing causes time travelers to create a future that would have never existed had they not interred with the timeline. The movie is about future Dudes that go back in time to help past Dudes so they can supply most excellent elevator muzak for other future Dudes. Nothing messed up the space/time continuum to prevent Wyld Stallyns from being successful. They were just natural, boring, temporally uninteresting fuck ups. For some reason the future Dudes deemed them worth unraveling space/time for.
Terminator 2: Judgment Day
The entire concept of the Terminator franchise is a paradox itself. The machines are trying to kill the one human that's causing them problems in the present, but if they kill him in the past, they would never have needed to send a robot in the first place.
Terminator 2 revolves around trying to prevent Judgment Day by destroying the chip from the first movie that created the technology for Skynet. Terminator gets around paradoxes through preordained destiny. No matter what John Conner does, Judgment Day will happen, maybe, not exactly the same way but it happens. Skynet will be created and conveniently named Skynet in any hundred robot/man war scenarios.
Bruce Willis as we all know is the best, and the best at helping unravel space/time anomalies. A virus has wiped out most of the human race, and only a random collection of geniuses and retards have survived. Bruce Willis's role is to calibrate the time machine and gathering random bits of intel, pretty much the equivalent of a time traveling helper monkey. If the scientists from the future succeed, they can stop the virus from spreading, but that would also prevent the scientists from inventing time travel to save the world from the virus. 12 Monkeys though never states that time is fluid or changing history is possible, a paradox cannot occur if time cannot change. The experiment might be for naught, but I say GO TIME MONKEY GO!
The Time Enforcement Commission were created because historic events indicated time crime. Of course the government will fund time cops to stop time crime. But the senator at the head of time travel commission that created the time cops was the one causing the time crime to being with. No Senator McComb means no temporal crime wave, which means no need for time cops to police history, which means the senator is free to commit crimes. Doing a split does little to repair the timeline.
Biggie Smalls was right: Mo Time Travel, Mo Problems. Check out more detailed breakdown of Temporal Anomalies in Time Travel Movies.
All this to erase my toaster strudel... way to go, McFly.
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