What movies got wrong and right about the future of transportation.

What Your Favorite Sci-Fi Movies Predicted Transportation Would Be Like in 1984, 2017, and 2263

What Your Favorite Sci-Fi Movies Predicted Transportation Would Be Like in 1984, 2017, and 2263

The citizen’s guide to the future.
Sept. 7 2017 1:28 PM

How Movies Imagined the Future of Transportation

The Running Man’s 2017 doesn’t quite ring true.

Photo illustration by Natalie Matthew-Ramo. Photos by Thinkstock and TriStar Pictures.

Photo illustration by Natalie Matthews-Ramo. Photos by Thinkstock and TriStar Pictures.


From a city sky full of personal planes in Just Imagine (1930) to the flying police squadrons of The Fifth Element (1997), movies have imagined the future of transportation for as long as they’ve existed. The video above presents examples past and present, plausible and not, including the requisite flying cars but also the sleek official vehicles of an authoritarian future. (The Running Man’s vision of cars in 2017 did not pan out, thankfully.) The video includes the year each movie depicts, including many already in the past. Just imagine what today’s sci-fi will look like in 2050.

This article is part of Future Tense, a collaboration among Arizona State University, New America, and Slate. Future Tense explores the ways emerging technologies affect society, policy, and culture. To read more, follow us on Twitter and sign up for our weekly newsletter.

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Jacob T. Swinney is a video essayist, filmmaker, and cinephile.