Back To The Future: The Case of the Two Martys
Now that we’re in 2015, a milestone year for us Back to the Future fans, it’s time to start looking back at some of the deeper questions from the trilogy. Let’s start with the tale of the two Martys.
Marty McFly wakes up after returning to 1985 to find things different amongst the family. George McFly is now a successful writer – with a sweet BMW 733i -, Lorraine McFly is happy and thin, Dave McFly wears a suit to the office (Burger King corporate?), and Linda McFly is now popular. Then we discover Biff is an auto detailer instead of George’s supervisor.
Things are looking up for the McFly family. However, one thing eerily looms over this scene, Marty still remembers his old reality and has no idea what is going on. You quickly realize that the Marty we saw leaving “Lone Pine Mall” is not the same Marty that left from the “Twin Pines Mall” in the beginning.
Marty A, who we have watched for the entire movie, knows life from growing up with a dorky unsuccessful father and a depressed lush mother. An unconfident teen who’s afraid of rejection and has to lie to his disapproving mother about trips to the lake. He dreams of owning the Toyota Hilux 4X4 paraded around by Statler Toyota.
Marty B, growing up with different parents, would now be more confident and open to his parents. His mother is very approving of the lake trip and really likes Jennifer. He owns that dream Toyota Hilux 4X4 pick-up, and I’m sure he sent that demo to the record company because he can take that kind of rejection.
As we already know, Marty changed almost everything about his life in 1985. If we were in one continuous timeline, then Marty should have either been flooded with memories of a different life or just simply disappeared when George kissed Lorraine. It’s not like Marty B grew up with memories of things that never happened to him.
Throughout the trilogy, Marty and Doc seem to defy the logic of everything else around them. People’s lives change easily with what happens whereas Marty and Doc always remember their original reality regardless of what has been altered. You could say they both simply exist as an anomaly. By directly impacting the timeline over and over, their existence is now stuck unknowingly on a plane between universes.
During the time Marty spent in 1955, surely Doc had to get to know him a little. As years progressed Doc probably began looking in on Marty and came to the realization that this is not the same kid that came to visit him. Before Marty left he tells Doc that his dad punched out Biff, and he had never stood up to him before – a thought that would have eaten at Doc over the years.
Doc also had direct access to the time machine for a week along with the video Marty brought with him. This means he had an earlier understanding of the inner mechanics – something that took him 30 years before – and most likely built at least some form of it before 1985. It’s safe to assume Doc had built the time machine earlier, went back to 1955 to investigate and saw it was still Marty A with the same memories. Doc could have easily impersonated his 1955 counterpart and asked a couple of questions. After which he now knew for certain that Marty B on the current timeline is a different person leaving a problem, on 10/26/1985 there was going to be two Martys in Hill Valley.
Doc tried his best to right the timeline; maybe he thought that by reproducing things from the original 1985 timeline everything would correct itself. He took the same course of action the best he could remember. He angered the Libyans so he would get shot like the letter has advised and set up the experiment on the same night in the same way he had seen in the video.
However, once Marty A came over that hill, all of Doc’s nightmares came true. Marty A is here out of his reality and should not be. The real question is where did Doc send Marty B? Not back to 1955, Doc knows that would only make things worse as there would now be two Martys in 1955.
I say that Doc sent him a few hours into the future, just enough time to confirm that Marty A was indeed arriving with the alternate time machine. Upon confirming this has happened he drops Marty A off at home and then tells him he is going 30 years into the future. In reality, he goes a short time into the future where he meets Marty B back at the Lone Pine Mall. He then takes him somewhere either in the past or the future, a place he has already visited and determined he can leave him without disrupting anything further. Maybe he even used a sleep-inducing alpha rhythm generator on Marty B that he already acquired from the future. Doc knows there cannot be two physical Martys and has to take action to eliminate 1 of them.
Why didn’t Doc take Marty A somewhere else instead of Marty B though? Marty B would have made more sense to keep in his correct timeline. I assume Doc still felt attached to Marty A from all the events that had occurred in 1955. Maybe he was not very close to Marty B, for all we know in the midst of being more confident this Marty is now a pompous jerk.
The case of the two Martys is one of the many puzzling questions weaved into the Back to the Future trilogy. I look forward to exploring more of these unanswered cinematic mysteries throughout 2015.