How Would You Write, Back to the Future Four?

In the ensuing 25 years since the release of the third and final portion of science-fiction classic, Back to the Future, movie fans worldwide have mused over the possibility of a fourth instalment one day coming to fruition. However, with Christopher Lloyd in his seventies, Michael J Fox’s acting limited by the debilitation of Parkinson’s disease, and writers Bob Gale and Robert Zemeckis openly dismissing the project as 'boring', it would seem part four hitting our silver screens is more a work of fan-boy fantasy, than Hollywood reality.

Yet we live in a world where minds can rapidly change like a Scottish highland breeze. And what if – whether for love, money, or a script strong enough to justify the time and effort in writing it, the original cast and crew found a desire to recreate a modern version of the past, and signed up to this fresh green lighted project. With the collection of issues born from time working against it, and the intricate level of construction needed, how would you write a movie, like Back to the Future Four?

The year is 2020. Marty and Jennifer remain comfortably healthy and married; living in the pleasant present future displayed in Back to the Future Two - minus Hoverboards, flying cars, and Jaws 19. Biff Tannen is a middle-aged loser who flips burgers (in the movie world, flipping burgers means loser - even though it is an honest way to make a living), while Doc Emmett Brown remains in 1915 with Clara Clayton and family. 

The McFly’s live with their only child; 21-year old Mikey - a carbon copy in looks and personality to his 1980’s father. One fateful day in the family garage, the Doc turns up in his trusted Delorean - the spacecraft/train was too large and expensive to maintain. He explains to Marty – aside why Hoverboards, flying cars and Jaws 19 never came to pass, how they need to venture back to 1999 – in order to maintain the course of his sons conception; who faces the dangers of Biff and his usual hair brained schemes from separating Marty and Jennifer. Of course Marty – being older, is usurped by young Mikey – eager to prove himself; being the only soul ever convinced by his father's stories of 1955/2015/1885. Mikey McFly ends up venturing back to 1999 with the Doc – discovering a world before smart-phones, widely available broadband, and twitter; but still with a surly and stupid burger flipping bully, named Biff Tannen. For the next 90 minutes, all kinds of mayhem and mischief ensue, ending with a resolution which leaves everyone happy, and involves Michael J.Fox in the final scene in some capacity. While rehashing elements of the events in 1955, the difference lies in the cultural and moral interests of two very different periods of history; and in the hands of crafted screenwriters like Bob Gale and Robert Zemeckis, this would surely create a recipe for cine-magic...

Regardless of the plot, working a fresh Back to the Future movie would prove an arduous task for any director; a fourth movie runs the risk of tarnishing a series universally loved and regarded, and our imaginations often create a magic, reality is unable to reproduce. Added to this is the audience accepting Michael J.Fox in an extended cameo role; even though they would understand his limits are forced by illness, it may still feel difficult to see him take a back seat, as well as needing a very talented young actor to fill a lead role of a cultural icon.

On the reverse, there would be no trouble prizing the still active Christopher Lloyd, or pulling Thomas F.Wilson from his comedy gigs and voice-overs. And it is also a project Hollywood would invest good money into; as the movie alone would likely generate a large financial return, regardless of quality. It is a major risk, and a highly unexpected event, but I would happily accept an adequate part four, purely to enjoy seeing beloved characters and situations re-awoken for one final occasion; while a different genre, it never hurt Rocky Balboa or Rambo. The only other option is an attempt to ‘reboot’ the original; which going on the recent Robocop and Karate Kid ventures, I cannot imagine anyone under the age of 25 - or with any regard for the artistic beauty of classic cinema, wishes to see happen. 

There are a multitude of ideas and possibilities with this, and this article is merely the musing of one person. With millions of die-hard fans of the series out there, I would love to know how you feel Back to the Future Four should pan out - if it even should? Would you allow the son of Marty to travel with the Doc? Would Biff be flipping burgers, or running a corporation after some kind of mid-life epiphany? Or would you create an entirely new direction altogether? Please comment below, and I will post the most original and interesting one up in my next article...