We’re living in “a time” right now, one that some movies like Contagion kind of predicted. But there are plenty of films and shows that portray a far different version of 2020—where aliens invaded Earth, robots have taken over boxing...or maybe dragons have even taken root.
Check out our video above for a look at some of the heroes who rose up to save us from those horrible alternate versions of 2020. Below we’ve put together a list of several films and shows that either took place in 2020 or had key plot points within that year. Just goes to show that things could always be worse—at least we don’t have radioactive sharks...
Edge of Tomorrow (2014)
Edge of Tomorrow—starring Emily Blunt and Tom Cruise—takes place five years after a race of nearly invincible aliens called Mimics invaded Earth, turning 2020 into a futuristic hellscape where soldiers of the newly minted United Defense Force have to don bulky mech-suits just to stand a chance against them. It shows how quickly society can adapt when faced with an unprecedented threat—though in this case, it was by creating a massive military-industrial complex.
In this Brian De Palma film inspired by the ride at Walt Disney World’s Epcot, space travel has grown to support expeditions to Mars. The astronauts embarking on these missions discover that the planet was previously inhabited by highly sophisticated aliens. Billions of years ago, they’d abandoned the planet, sending one alien to Earth to create lifeforms who could one day land on Mars and discover their true extraterrestrial ancestry. Astronaut Jim McConnell (Gary Sinise) is chosen as the ambassador of Earth, and the movie ends with him being summoned to the Martians’ new home.
A Quiet Place (2018)
A Quiet Place fast forwards two years into its future, to a world devastated by an invasion of alien monsters who could hunt by sound. As a result, vocal speech is impossible and largely replaced by sign language. It’s a world similar to ours, except without any form of functioning government or society, because anything that makes a sound will draw deadly attention.
This is the kind of futuristic flick that can only come from 35 years of far-future speculation—and the fact that it was a Soviet film that was slightly retooled with new scenes in English and repackaged for the U.S at the height of the Cold War.
In this version of 2020, the Moon has already been colonized because it’s the future, baby! A pair of astronauts have been sent 200 million miles to explore Venus—i.e., the one that’s famous for being an uninhabitable gas planet. Upon landing there, the astronauts discover that it’s actually a prehistoric world filled with strange monsters and murderous plants, and they’re forced to launch a daring escape. It’s perfectly schlocky 60s sci-fi akin to Voyage To the Planet Of Prehistoric Women. Not a lot of plot, but definitely some cheesy special effects.
Real Steel (2011)
This sci-fi sports flick presents a 2020 where human boxers have been replaced by robots, turning it into a mix of Detroit: Beyond Human and that BattleBots show. Hugh Jackman’s Charlie Kenton trains a robot called Atom to become a champion boxer, and the movie ends not with humans returning to the ring but robot boxing continuing to reign supreme. The focus of the story was more about the strained relationship between Charlie and his son Max (Dakota Goyo), with robot boxing being the thing that brings them together, but the framework was this strange, disjointed world that mixed futuristic robotic technology with old timey state fairs.
Reign of Fire (2002)
Dragons have awakened from beneath the Earth to bring about the next apocalypse. In Rob Bowman’s Reign of Fire, it’s 2020 and they’ve nearly completed their goal, with humanity on the brink of extinction. The few pockets of people remaining have gathered in small communities—one of them led by Christian Bale’s Quinn Abercromby—and daily life is a challenge. They can’t even grow food without dragons coming in to burn all their crops. Luckily for Bale and his co-star Matthew McConaughey, there’s only one boy dragon and if you kill that one, they all go down.
This movie takes place five years after the previous Sharknado film and focuses on a private space company loosely modeled after Elon Musk’s SpaceX. The company developed a technology that can diffuse tornadoes from space, which has not only helped save millions from annual tornadoes, it’s effectively killed the whole sharknado thing—but not for long. Lo and behold, in comes a sharknado that’s so big, it contains boulders, fire, oil, even lava. Eventually, it becomes nuclear, meaning we’ve got radioactive sharks floating around in a giant tornado. The only thing it was missing was space sharks. I wanted space sharks.
Pacific Rim (2013)
The bulk of Pacific Rim takes place in 2025, but the events of 2020 had a huge impact on the plot. After the Kaiju came to Earth through “the Breach,” celebrity fighters teamed up in gigantic Jaeger mech suits to take them on—including brothers Yancy and Raleigh Becket. Together, the two manage to kill the first Kaiju in 2020, but it cost Yancy his life. Afterward, Raleigh (Charlie Hunnam) quit the Jaeger program and humanity started losing the war. In 2025, Mako Mori (Rinko Kikuchi) joined Raleigh and together they managed to journey into the Breach and seal it once and for all. Oh, that whole sequel thing? Never heard of it.
Dollhouse was a show about a secretive group called the Rossum Corporation that had the ability to wipe people’s personalities and implant them with characteristics that served the wealthy. However, this technology took a darker turn in two episodes: “Epitaph 1,” which was a bonus episode on the season one DVD, and the series finale, “Epitaph 2.”
These episodes jumped forward to 2020, after the Rossum Corporation had succeeded in wiping the minds of everyone around the world—turning them into mindless zombies that could be imprinted with whatever traits the select few in power wanted. Main character Echo (Eliza Dushku) and her friends managed to stop them and restore everyone’s minds, but we’re sure waking up to that post-apocalyptic nightmare sucked.
The Last Man on Earth (2015–2018)
This series opens in 2020, about one year after a virus swept the world and seemingly killed everyone. Phil (Will Forte) thinks he’s the only survivor and decides to die by suicide rather than live alone. However, he ends up coming across another survivor named Carol (Kristen Schaal). Together, they manage to bring together more people and build their own society, though it’s not always a happy bunch. Just imagine if The Walking Dead were combined with The Office. The colorful and complicated cast of characters end up turning the series into a sort of family sitcom—only instead of putting someone in time out, you get banished like Phil.
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