2015 is just a a little over a month away, and by all accounts we’re right on track for syncing up with the 2015 version of the world depicted in Back to the Future II. Tony Hawk did just cruised around on a legit hoverboard, so I expect to be riding around in a flying DeLorean by March — no rush, science guys. In the meantime, the film’s 25th anniversary is a perfect excuse to pull up some trivia on the second film in the trilogy and examine how it connects with its before and after counterparts. To the future!
1. There was never supposed to be a sequel. Contrary to popular belief, Robert Zemeckis and Steven Spielberg had never intended for the original movie to have a sequel. “But what about the flying car at the end?” That was merely supposed to be a gag and nothing more. As Robert Zemeckis put it, Back to the Future’s success meant a sequel was inevitable.
“We’d never designed the first Back To The Future to have a sequel. The flying car at the end was a joke, a great payoff. We thought this would be really hard to unravel and do again. But when you make a movie that’s as successful as Back To The Future, it becomes this piece of corporate real estate. It becomes bigger than you as a filmmaker. You’re basically given a decision: we’re making a sequel, do you want to be involved in it or not?”
2. Carl Sagan was a fan of the movie’s science. I can’t speak for how Neil DeGrasse Tyson feels about the movie, but Carl Sagan was a fan. The astronomer had nothing but praise for Robert Zemeckis on how he handled the multiple timelines. The guy was such a fan of the movie that he agreed to appear in a 1990 Earth Day special that featured Christopher Lloyd as Doc Brown, and moonlights as the alias used by Doc in Back to the Future: The Game.
3. The sequel was supposed to send Marty back to the 1960s. Rather than transport Marty from the future back to 1955 again, Bob Gale’s first treatment had Marty going back to 1967. Bob told Empire that he wanted Lorraine to be a hippie.
“The third act of the movie, rather than going back to 1955, took Marty to 1967. Biff ended up with the sports almanac in 1967 because I thought it would be cool to do the ’60s. George McFly would have been a college professor, Lorraine is a flower child. Let’s do this stuff in the ’60s and see what we could do with that.”
4. Elijah Wood made his feature film debut in the movie. The movie marked Elijah’s first role in a film with his appearance as one of the kids playing an arcade game that Marty interacts with in the diner at the beginning of the movie.
5. Michael J. Fox had to relearn how to skateboard. One of the first film’s most iconic action sequences had Marty grabbing a kid’s scooter, ripping off the wooden handlebars, and skateboarding through 1955 Hill Valley with Biff trying to run him over. The sequel — as well as the third movie filmed at the same time — were shot five years later and Michael J. Fox had forgotten how to skate. The actor had to re-learn in order to look convincing in the sequel’s hoverboard scenes that had him in a harness hanging from wires.
6. Biff might have given George McFly a shot of liquid courage. So, in the original, George has a glass of punch at the Enchantment Under the Sea dance before confronting and knocking out Biff. In the sequel, we see that Biff spikes the punch with liquor. So it’s possible that Biff is the reason George was feeling particularly brave after drinking the punch and then going out in the parking lot to look for Lorraine.
7. Crispin Glover pulled out of the sequel, but the filmmakers put him in anyway. Crispin Glover opted out of being in the sequel because he wasn’t offered more than $125,000 for reprising his role. He didn’t grant producers permission to use his likeness in the film, but they did so anyways with previously shot footage spliced with another actor who wore prosthetics and had a similar build. This didn’t sit well with the actor and Glover sued the filmmakers, settling with Universal out of court for $765,000. As a result of the lawsuit, the Screen Actors Guild now has clauses prohibiting filmmakers of using such methods for reproducing the likeness of an actor when that actor hasn’t given their permission.
8. Doc’s shirt hints at the third film. The shirt that Doc wears during most of the movie has cowboys, horses, and a train. This was done deliberately by the filmmakers to foreshadow the third film’s climax. The producers had also considered naming Biff’s hoverboard “The Mad Dog” as foreshadowing his character in the third movie, but for whatever reason decided to go with “Pit Bull” instead.
9. Marty’s second alias was Levi Strauss. When Marty travels time he takes on the alias of Calvin Klein, but when the movie was released in a Spanish version, his 1955 alias was switched to Levi Strauss.
10. Mattel Toys was overwhelmed with requests for hoverboards. While promoting the movie, Robert Zemeckis joked that they had used real hoverboards that were fully functioning, but hadn’t yet been released to the public. The hoverboards in the movie bear the Mattel logo and upon the film’s release the toy company had parents calling in daily asking how much they had to shell out for a hoverboard.