Back To The Future II: 10 Major Questions We're Still Asking

Back To The Future Part II Marty and Doc check their watches

Many a sci-fi fan can trace their basic understanding of time travel to the Back to the Future trilogy. With a keen eye for how cause and effect can alter a timeline, there’s bound to be questions hiding in plain sight, especially in the three legendary films that saw Michael J. Fox’s Marty and Christopher Lloyd’s Doctor Emmett L. Brown ponder the biggest issues one could expect to run into. Tons of people have questioned the events of Back to the Future through such a critical lens, but not as many have turned that sort of eye towards its sequels.

Today, or whenever in the space-time continuum you’re reading this feature, we’re about to take a look at the events of Back to the Future Part II, and ask some major questions we have after watching the movie again. With this legendary sequel fresh in our minds, it’s these issues that we are still scratching our heads over with the second in this series of serialized shenanigans.

Back To The Future Part II Old Biff in the driver's seat with the almanac

How Does Biff Tannen Know How To Operate The Delorean?

While Doc Brown’s Delorean time machine isn’t the most complicated piece of technology, there’s still a bit of a process that goes into putting that baby into gear for time travel. Between needing to know how to enter the date on the keypad, to requiring the knowledge of how to engage both the hover converter and revving things up to 88 miles per hour, you really need to be familiar with how to operate this time machine before you go anywhere. So how did Old Biff Tannen simply step into the Delorean, take it to 1955 to change the future, and come back to 2015 with barely a thought?

Back To The Future Part II Biff standing in his tracksuit, ready to pass out matchbooks

Could Biff Have Stayed A “Good Person” If Doc Never Showed Up Again?

The words “Biff Tannen” and “nice guy” never seem to be good bedfellows, but by the end of Back to the Future, a humbled Biff (Thomas F. Wilson) operates an auto detailing service. We’re reminded of this fact at the beginning of Back to the Future Part II, just as Biff sees Doc Brown and his Delorean show up to whisk Marty and Jennifer (Elizabeth Shue) into 2015. It’s only because of Biff remembering this event in 2015 that the central conflict in this sequel kicks off, which has us wondering: would Biff have remained meek and mild if Doc had either stayed home, or was a bit more discreet about his time traveling ways?

Back To The Future Part II Old Marty turns away from his call with Needles

What Was Marty Sr. Going To Do That Ended Up Getting Himself Fired?

In Back to the Future Part II both Marty McFly and his son are primed to make horrific decisions that will crash their lives into a mountain of consequences. With Marty Jr. being enticed by Griff and Marty Sr. finding his co-worker Needles (Flea) as his tempter, these decisions would have landed the son in jail and the father in the unemployment line. While the son was spared from a particularly nasty rap for theft, Marty Sr. did the thing, and got himself terminated. But what exactly was this "business proposition" that promised a killer payout?

Back To The Future Part II Young Marty confronted at the Cafe 80s by Griff

Would Marty Jr Have Recognized Doc?

Marty McFly Jr was supposed to be intercepted by Doc Brown in Back to the Future Part II, but as we see in the final chain of events, this never happened. Which might have been a good thing, because if the two of them had met, what would have happened? Would Marty Jr. have recognized Doc Brown from all of the stories his father would have more than likely told him? Imagine what the dinner table would have been like later that night with Marty’s kid asking about that wild eyed scientist he used to tell stories about.

Back To The Future Part II Marty takes a hoverboard from a kid

Why Is It Ok To Bring A Hoverboard Into The Past, But Not The Sports Almanac?

All of Back to the Future Part II’s time travel mayhem hinges on Marty’s purchase of Gray’s Sports Almanac, in the hopes of making some easy money on lucrative bets through time. While Doc warns Marty that this sort of thing isn’t exactly wise, considering it screws with the space-time continuum, there’s an outstanding question that needs to be answered in this specific instance: how does bringing a fully functioning Mattel Hoverboard back from 2015 make any more sense? Surely a fully completed piece of tech from the future would skew the timeline just as much as some ill-gotten wealth, right?

Back To The Future Part II Marty and Doc look at the future newspaper

Did Doc And Marty’s Trip To 2015 Cause Marty’s Accident In 1985 Prime?

Throughout the course of Back to the Future Part II, and its sequel Back to the Future Part III, Marty’s issues about being called “chicken” are dealt with throughout the past, present, and future timelines in the series. And if it wasn’t for the lessons he learned, he’d have gotten into a music career-ending accident with a Rolls Royce. Which, come to think of it, is never mentioned prior to Back to the Future Part II; which in turn makes us wonder, did Doc’s initial trip to 2015 accidentally put Marty on the road that would have led to a busted hand and a wedding at the Chapel O’Love?

Back To The Future: Part II Marty and Doc in front of the antique shop

Why Is Doc Brown So Obsessed With Changing The Future Now?

In Back to the Future, Marty tried to prevent Doc Brown's death by giving him a letter about his future demise. The man swears up and down that he won't read this letter from his young companion, but does it anyway and is spared a horrific death. Could this have turned the scientifically minded, usually careful Doc into a reckless time bandit? The Doc at the beginning of Back to the Future would have never let Marty sniff the future, much less interact with it; and now he's drafting him to course correct his entire family? Did Marty break Doc?

Back To The Future Part II Biff's 1985A goons hold Marty captive

What Was “The Hard Way” Of Dealing With Intruders, According To Biff’s Thugs?

One of Back to the Future Part II’s funniest gags comes when Biff’s thugs threaten Marty McFly with “the easy way or the hard way” when it comes to subduing him. “The easy way”, funny enough, is clubbing Marty on the head with a Blackjack, and shipping him up to the good old 27th floor. The more times we hear that line, the more we feel like asking someone, what exactly was the “hard way," and how illegal is it in the world of Biff Tannen’s assent in alternate 1985?

Back To The Future Part II Marty dumbfounded in alternate 1985

How Bad Of A Kid Was Alternate 1985’s Marty?

Let’s be honest, the entire alternate 1985A scenario from Back to the Future Part II leaves a lot of questions in its wake. While it’s only a short segment of the entire film, it doesn’t change the fact that the tangent timeline is rich for asking the right questions. One of which has to deal with the fact that alternate Biff mentions oh-so-subtly that alternate Marty apparently has a habit of getting kicked out of boarding schools. So just how bad of a kid was alternate Marty, in order to get bounced from fancy school to fancy school?

Back To The Future Part II Old Biff fading out

Who Kills Alternate 1985’s Biff?

Our last two questions are major ones, especially when it comes to hardcore sci-fi fans. As dyed in the wool Back to the Future Part II fans will tell you, there’s an infamous deleted scene where Old Biff returns to 2015, only to fade away into obscurity. It’s the reason he’s doubled over in pain when he returns the Delorean, but the final shot of Biff disappearing was trashed in the final edit. With that moment still lodged in our minds after numerous sessions with the deleted scenes, we’re still stuck wondering: who killed Biff Tannen? Yeah, the suspect list is long, but that’s what makes it all the more interesting to ask.

Watchmen a gigantic Nixon statue about to be brought down

Is Back To The Future’s Alternate 1985 Set In The Watchmen Universe?

The final question Back to the Future Part II is a fresh one, and you can blame HBO’s hit series based off of the Watchmen universe for its inspiration. In 1985A, Marty reads a newspaper that, among other things, talks about President Richard Nixon seeking a fifth term of office. The last time we saw that sort of history play out, we’d won Vietnam because of Doctor Manhattan, so time travel doesn’t feel totally out of place in this hypothetical overlap.

This doesn’t even begin to cover the numerous questions we could still ask about Back to the Future Part II, as well as what we could go on to discuss in reference to Back to the Future Part III’s conclusion to the series. But for now, we’ll stay in the here and now, with these major queries outstanding and just waiting for answers.

And if you’ve got some answers or questions of your own to share with us, feel free to leave them in the comments section below. Don’t forget to check out the Back to the Future trilogy as part of your research, as all three films are currently available on Netflix for your streaming enjoyment.

Mike Reyes
Senior Movies Contributor

CinemaBlend's James Bond (expert). Also versed in Large Scale Aggressors, time travel, and Guillermo del Toro. He fights for The User.