There are countless ways the world as we know it could end, and science fiction has added even more possibilities to the list. Dystopian literature and movies are having a moment right now, meaning people are fascinated by the ways the world could be different. Basically, we have it pretty good when you compare our world to what it could be like. But you never know when things could change.
T.S Eliot said “this is the way the world ends, not with a bang but a whimper.” But Hollywood begs to differ. If we trust the movies, the world is destined to go out in a blaze of glory. Just hopefully not for a very long time. Read on if you want to prepare yourself, here is our list of ways the movies predict the world could end.
The popularity of the idea of an illness spreading through the entire world causing the undead to come back hungry for human brains, is at an all time high. There have been countless movies, such as 28 Days Later, World War Z, and Zombieland, all portraying a different version of the zombie apocalypse. Who hasn’t had an in-depth conversation about how they would survive if the world were suddenly overrun with walking corpses? Or how about which one of your group of friends would die first? Are zombie movies preparing us?
The idea that we are the only intelligent living things in the whole entire universe seems… impossible. There has to be something else out there, and we have no idea if they are friendly, or cold-blooded killers. They could be watching us right now, just waiting for the right moment to strike. That is generally the camp Hollywood is in when it comes to alien life. War of the Worlds portrays an alien race that wants to take Earth for itself. The Day the Earth Stood Still lets us know that if we resort to violence against them, we will lose. Even District 9 shows an unfavourable mixing of humans and an alien species. Humans vs. aliens is always a power struggle that ends in disaster.
This one is a little less far fetched. We know from Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth that global warming is a real danger that is affecting our lives every day. The Day After Tomorrow took global warming to the extreme and showed us what could actually happen if the polar ice caps continue to melt. Extreme changes in temperature can lead to catastrophic weather events like tornadoes, tsunamis, and snow. A lot of snow. In the movie, all of Canada is pretty much a write-off as a new ice age creeps south. Hopefully if this does happen, we’ll have more than two days to evacuate to Mexico.
The biggest threat is always from the place you least expect it. At least that’s what M. Night Shyamalan thought when he wrote and directed The Happening. Somehow, plants started releasing a toxin that made people commit suicide. Why? They felt threatened. How? Who knows. Maybe one day all the plants could band together and start killing off the human race. Then they would have the world all to themselves with no one to trample them, cut them down, or generally mistreat them. Or, the plants could go the less subtle route and grow into giant monster like in Little Shop of Horrors. Maybe it’s time to start obeying those “do not walk on grass” signs.
The Cold War had the potential to end the world, and the US actually did drop atomic bombs on Japan during World War II, but it could get a lot worse. Films like Thread, Testament, and The Day After, all depict what the world devolves into after the detonation of a nuclear bomb. The people who survive the initial blast end up dying soon after due to radiation poisoning. Nuclear bombs are usually only used as a threat by super villains in cartoons, because to set one off would mean certain death for the entire world, and who really wants that, besides cartoon super villains?
Animals Take Over
George Orwell knew it was possible that animals might be just as smart, if not smarter, than humans when he wrote Animal Farm. If pigs can learn to communicate and overthrow a farm, then why can’t animals everywhere band together and take over the world? Planet of the Apes is another example of animals working together to overthrow humans as the dominant species.. Maybe, like plants, animals are waiting for their opportunity to strike. Who knows, one day it might not be animals who live in cages at the zoo, it might be us.
Like zombies, vampires don’t have much control over their killer instincts. But they are better at hiding it in order to get what they want. In Daybreakers, the majority of the population is a vampire, and the dwindling population of humans also means a dangerously low blood supply. Not only is humanity almost extinct, but the vast majority of vampires are becoming endangered as well. If vampirism spread throughout the world, their constantly growing numbers, and the fact that they are immortal, would be bound to lead to a shortage of food. Maybe the world wouldn’t be over, but it wouldn’t be quite as nice to live in as it is now.
Who knows what is lurking at the bottom of the ocean (Godzilla). Or what kind of gigantic ape is trapped on an island waiting to be discovered (King Kong). Or even if some eager scientists are working on hatching a new age of the dinosaur in some remote research facility in the jungle (Jurassic Park). The point is, we don’t know what monsters are lurking out of sight, and when they might come crashing out in the open to trample us all.
Space is a big void of unexplored territory, and like the alien invasion possibility, there is no way of knowing what is out there and when it might show its ugly face. Bruce Willis might have saved the world from certain destruction in Armageddon, but we might not have a hero willing to give his life to save us if a real asteroid sets its sights on planet earth. Deep Impact also showed how even a small asteroid can kill millions of people by triggering natural disasters like tsunamis and earthquakes. All we can do is hope that the people at NASA in charge of keeping track of these things are paying attention.
Contagious diseases are the reason the zombie apocalypse genre even exists at all. So what if there was a contagious illness that didn’t turn people into the walking dead, but just killed them. Wait, that happens all the time. Swine flu, SARS, even AIDS, were all considered to be epidemics at some point. That’s why a Center for Disease Control exists. Contagion shows how an illness is traced back to its origin to figure out how to stop it, but not before thousands of people die. Sometimes it happens so fast, there is just no where to run.
As we build technology that can anticipate our every want and need, we are slowly giving more power to computers. Has anyone ever stopped to think that the computers might start to think for themselves? That’s impossible, you say. Not according to I, Robot. If animals can evolve to surpass us in intelligence, then is it so far fetched to think that computers could do the same? Maybe they would want to get back at us for telling them what to do for so long. Never mind that we created them. They are in charge now.
The future of the human race relies on one basic thing: procreation. In order for us, or any species really, to keep evolving, babies have to keep being made. So, what if suddenly women couldn’t get pregnant? It might start out with just a small percentage of infertile women, but it would spread, until there were no children anymore. People would be dying, but there would be no one new to take their place. In Children of Men, it has been years since a woman has gotten pregnant, and most people have pretty much lost hope. There isn’t much point in maintaining anything if there will be no one around to appreciate it in 50 years. On the bright side, there would be no need for birth control anymore.
The Sun Burns Out
Earth is pretty reliant on that one giant star we call our sun. But stars have been known to burn out, and that will probably happen to our sun one day, too. All our plants would die, it would get unbearably cold, and we would all be seriously lacking in the vitamin D department. In Sunshine, a group of brave astronauts head up to the sun and attempt to reignite it with a giant nuclear fission bomb, but if we are being honest, that probably wouldn’t work in real life. Unless the sun can be jump started like a dead car battery. Not likely.