We Think We've Finally Figured Out Tomorrowland's Insane Premise

Illustration for article titled We Think We've Finally Figured Out Tomorrowland's Insane Premise

Brad Bird and Damon Lindelof’s befuddling science fiction movie Tomorrowland has baffled us for years. But now we think we know the premise of this secret scientist illuminati society set not in the future, but in a future world. Spoiler talk ahead.


Today, Disney released a website Take Me to Tomorrowland and inside this marketing creation hides an actual plot. No more arduous talk of mystery boxes and vague references to Disneyland’s Tomorrowland theme park — now we know the truth. And the truth is bizarre.

It turns out that Tomorrowland isn’t an alternate universe. It’s a planet, a planet for special people created by special scientists (only furthering Brad Bird’s obsession with the special folks among society). But we’re getting ahead of ourselves — before the discovery of the Tomorrowland planet there was the secret scientist society, which now has a name, “Plus Ultra.” According to Disney, Jules Verne, Thomas Edison, Nicola Tesla, and Gustave Eiffel all got together (seemingly putting immense grudge matches aside) to form Plus Ultra. This is their logo:

Illustration for article titled We Think We've Finally Figured Out Tomorrowland's Insane Premise

Buried in the viral site is this absolutely stunning “origin” animation. It lays out why science and innovation must be governed by conscience. Because if we don’t manage our dreams, we’ll build bombs and blow up the planet or something. The art is absolutely lovely and harkens back to Disney’s older explanatory animations.

Moving on, according to Take Me To Tomorrowland’s timeline, after the formation of “Plus Ultra” came the discovery of a new planet. No, really.

1899 “Plus Ultra scientists detected electromagnetic signals of exotic origin. Using experimental technology, they traced the alien energy to its source… Another World. It was just like Earth, except unclaimed and unspoiled a - a perfect spot to build a safe and secure workshop for the future.”

So what did Plus Ultra decide to do? Create a version of Lost’s Dharma Initiative on this planet by populating it with super special scientists. And here is yet another video heralding that great idea. A new world, a world of science bros!

Now this is where things get hairy. The timeline notes that, in 1908, Plus Ultra launched explorers into the other world.

“[1908] At exactly 9:32 AM in the morning Plus Ultra launched explorers into the other world. At exactly 12:47 PM, they tried to bring them back the only way they knew how… by tearing a hole in the sky. The Columbiad, which had taken the explorers, returned home with seconds to spare.”


That’s just kind of left there, out in the open. Not sure what happened, but things are only going to get more confusing, so hang on to your hat.

“1926 Tesla develops a portal [EDIT NOTE: SURE WHY NOT] that is a clear energy particle beam that could open portals to the other world without damaging the Earth.”


Thus negating any of that unsavory space travel business (for now, at least — the virtual website for Tomorrowland has a space port). In the most recent trailer, Tomorrowland cast-off George Clooney has a couple of portal-type creations sitting around in his living room. Could this be the same technology?

Illustration for article titled We Think We've Finally Figured Out Tomorrowland's Insane Premise

More tragedy befalls Tomorrowland in the timeline:

1928 An experiment goes “awry” and makes the other world “uninhabitable.” Whoops. Robots are created to repair the damage. Good to have all those robots on hand.


Note the robot name check. And note the above image of the attack robot grabbing Tomorrowland’s main character’s arm.

Clearly, whatever happened that was a disaster, which was later fixed because ten years later: “1938 Paradise is restored.”


And the plans to bring base-level humans to Tomorrowland continue. And yet, we still don’t know about Tomorrowland? Why don’t we basic humans know about this magical world where people ride jetpacks and monorails? What happened that kept the special science world from mingling with our muddy common paws? Tomorrowland muses that it’s been thriving for the last 77 years, bringing in more and more big science names to add things here and there. This is also where Walt Disney comes into play. Bird’s secret backstory alleges that Walt Disney was commissioned to make Tomorrowland propaganda in the hopes of preparing our weak little brains for the ideas that await us.

And that’s why Tomorrowland was created for the World’s Fair:

So what happened between then and when the trailer takes place? Why aren’t we portaling into our awesome (and clean) new planet? We’re not sure, but we’re guessing this is what Brad Bird’s movie hopes to answer.


My guess: Someone came into power and decided to close the doors between our world and theirs. And George Clooney was kicked out in the process. Now this chosen girl with the pin from the trailers (note the pin is not a portal itself, merely a watching device; that was confirmed in the last trailer when the worlds started colliding) has to bring the worlds together. It’s the chosen one trope, which I’m hesitant to get excited about as it means we’re getting a pretty aggressive mixing of science and fantasy. But at least now we have a much better idea of what this movie is trying to do.

Tomorrowland opens in theaters on May 22, 2015.



Zach Miller