Disney’s Tomorrowland is one of the most anticipated movies of the summer, and it’s also one of the most mysterious. Beginning two years ago, with a presentation at the D23 Expo that had filmmakers Brad Bird and Damon Lindelof opening a dusty box that contained rare artifacts from the Disney archive, Tomorrowland has been shrouded in intrigue, and fans haven’t been able to get enough of it. The trailers and other marketing materials have only given compelling hints at what the movie is about, showing brief glimpses of a young girl (Britt Robertson) who touches a magical pin that gives her a peek into a glittery world full of futuristic technology and a grizzled inventor (George Clooney), who offers to get her there. Beyond that there are mere slivers of information: a giant robot punches another giant robot, a monorail-like transportation system moves through the sky without tracks, and Hugh Laurie glowering menacingly.
That’s not a lot to go on, but we can share with you what we think we know about Tomorrowland, and why we can’t wait to visit this mysterious world.
Its Connection to the Parks
If you’ve seen the more recent television spots, then you know that the young version of George Clooney’s character is first transported to Tomorrowland via a trip on it’s a small world (the original version that appeared at the 1964 World’s Fair in Queens).
It’s also true that Tomorrowland itself, at least aesthetically, shares some similarities with Walt’s original plans for EPCOT Center (and, as the mythology behind Tomorrowland goes, Walt was part of a secret society called Plus Ultra that helped build this world of tomorrow).
Still, there’s not a sequence where Clooney and Robertson pop into Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin or take a whirl on Space Mountain. Tomorrowland is an exciting new world, less based on anything literal and tangible and more a spiritual approximation of the philosophy and sunny futurism of Walt Disney. It’s important to not think about Tomorrowland as a specific place but more as a feeling, one that you can easily find inside yourself.
There Are Lots of Robots
Lucky moviegoers who buy an IMAX ticket to Avengers: Age of Ultron are in for a special, additional treat: several minutes of footage from Tomorrowland. This is the same mind-meltingly awesome footage that was screened at New York Comic Con last year—and it’s chock full of robots.
To explain: the footage details a group of men who chase after Clooney and Robertson in Clooney’s booby-trapped lair, although maybe men is the wrong word. They’re androids, really, and co-writer/director Brad Bird (The Incredibles) has a blast in terms of all the ways that the booby traps dispense with these bad guys. (For instance, at one point Clooney turns on a magnetic wall that makes the robots stick to the sides of a hallway. Of course, Robertson has the hand of one of these robots still around her wrist, so when the magnet get flipped, she gets stuck to the wall too.) So: there are robots here on earth and yes, there are even more robots in Tomorrowland.
Again: we haven’t actually seen the movie yet, but there have been giant robots featured predominantly in several of the Tomorrowland television spots and trailers. It’s safe to assume that these robots are just as unfriendly as the ones that came after Clooney and Robertson.
There’s a Little Bit of Tomorrowland In Everyone
Walt once said that Tomorrowland was “a vista into a world of wondrous ideas, signifying Man’s achievements…Tomorrow offers new frontiers in science, adventure and ideals.” He also noted that it exemplified “the hope for a peaceful, unified world.” And that’s what Tomorrowland is, at its heart. It’s not about monorails or zooming, glittery spacecraft or the thousand-and-one theories flying around the Internet. It’s about the promise of (as the theme song to another 1964 World’s Fair staple Carousel of Progress states) “a great big beautiful tomorrow, shining at the end of every day,” and about how that optimistic outlook rests in all of us.
Tomorrowland will be in theaters May 22. Do you have your tickets yet?