14 Sci-Fi Movies That Are Actually Optimistic About The Future

List Rules
Vote up the brightest futures in optimistic sci-fi movies.

For some reason, filmmakers tend to be pessimistic about the future. Blade Runner, Children of Men, Mad Max, and Snowpiercer are just a few of the pictures that depict dystopian or post-apocalyptic futures. They're all good, as are many others of the type, but there's nevertheless a downer element to them. They make us worry about what might come in the years ahead.

Thank goodness for that small handful of movies that are actually optimistic about the future. Far fewer in number, these films offer a glimmer of hope. In them, good things await us down the road. Some of these cinematic futures find technology making life better for everyone. Some envision peace between nations that have previously been in conflict. Others see significant advances in healthcare or environmental issues. When you watch these films, having a positive outlook becomes a lot easier.

Which of the following science-fiction movies is most optimistic about the future? Vote up your favorites. 


  • 1
    21 VOTES

    Disney's Big Hero 6 has a comforting thought for anyone who fears illness. Set in the fictional city of San Fransokyo - which, as the name implies, is a mash-up of San Francisco and Tokyo - it follows Hiro Hamada, a child prodigy in the field of robotics. He has invented a personal healthcare robot named Baymax. The two find themselves on an adventure when one of his other inventions is stolen by someone with sinister intentions.

    Big Hero 6 shows a futuristic city where technology is both respected and world-changing. In fact, science is considered cool here, as new breakthroughs provide ways to make the world better. The creative minds behind them are portrayed as heroic. Beyond that, the inclusion of Baymax offers optimism about the state of healthcare going forward. His job is solely to attend to the well-being of Hamada. He can monitor his owner's health at all times, and if he detects anything even slightly wrong, he can immediately do something about it. Watching the movie, it's hard not to want your own Baymax to keep you perpetually tuned up. That optimistic view of healthcare helps make Big Hero 6 something special. 

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  • The entire Star Trek franchise was always designed to offer a hopeful view of the future. Creator Gene Roddenberry wanted to celebrate the wonder of exploration by having his characters go "where no man has gone before." Utilizing a racially diverse crew was also his way of promoting harmony. That vision began on the television series and later carried over to the movie franchise.

    Perhaps the best example of Star Trek's hopefulness can be found in the sixth film installment, The Undiscovered Country. It finds Captain Kirk and the Klingon Chancellor, Gorkon traveling toward Earth with the intention to enter into a peace treaty. There's a crisis when someone fires upon the Klingon ship, taking out Gorkon and framing the Enterprise for it. Once that particular drama has been sorted out, the crews of both ships join together to save the Federation President's life. Then they choose to finally be at peace with one another.

    The Undiscovered Country suggests that long-standing enemies can work together on common goals, setting aside their differences to live harmoniously. Given that the Klingons have been portrayed as enemies throughout Star Trek, that idea makes a significant emotional impact. 

  • 3
    31 VOTES

    In Black Panther, the future is now. On the surface, it's the story of T'Challa, the prince of an African nation called Wakanda. When a powerful piece of his country's technology is stolen, he sets out to retrieve it. What follows is a literal battle for control of Wakanda, as T'Challa must take on a fearsome rival named Erik Killmonger. He becomes the eponymous superhero in the process.

    Despite being set in the present day, Black Panther makes it crystal clear that Wakanda possesses technology far beyond what the rest of the world has. It would take centuries at a minimum for everyone else to develop what they already have. Through the Marvel storytelling template, Black Panther dives into the idea that advanced nations have a moral obligation to share those advancements with the rest of the world. Tech possessed by Wakanda is visibly capable of solving many of the world's problems, from famine to environmental concerns, transforming it into a more utopian place. 

    The message here is simple - used correctly, technology can make our world better, but we have to be willing to make it available to everyone.

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  • 4
    35 VOTES

    Most movies about aliens coming to Earth portray them as a threat. They're usually coming to conquer, deplete our planet's resources, or do something along those general lines. That's what makes Arrival so refreshing. It presents a scenario in which aliens come offering something far less malignant. Of course, the humans are initially prepared for the worst until linguist Louise Banks (Amy Adams) realizes they're trying to communicate. She listens and learns, and that makes all the difference.

    The visitors in Arrival know that they will need help from humans in 3,000 years. To that end, they come now to help humanity in the present day. Specifically, they bring information on a special "tool" that allows humans to perceive time in a nonlinear fashion. Louise gets a first-hand example of this when she sees a future opportunity to prevent a potentially catastrophic war via a simple phone call. 

    In every way, shape, and form, Arrival is the complete opposite of something like Independence Day where the aliens are nothing more than hostile enemies. This story suggests that lifeforms from another world might actually want to assist mankind. And better still, they generously offer to do it without being asked.

  • 5
    28 VOTES

    Tomorrowland follows Casey Newton, a young woman with a penchant for getting into trouble. After being released from jail, she goes through her belongings and finds a strange pin nestled in with them. When she touches it, she gets a glimpse of the title location, a far-away place filled with awe-inspiring technological innovations. Eager to discover the secret of Tomorrowland, she seeks out the help of an inventor who is alleged to have been kicked out of the place years prior. 

    Directed by Brad Bird, Tomorrowland is very much in the spirit of the Disneyland area after which it's named. The movie's vision of the future is positive, envisioning all kinds of technological marvels. One character zips around in a jet pack, and the Eiffel Tower is actually a launching pad for a spaceship. Those are just two examples. Whereas many futuristic films portray a world where technology has either taken over or made things worse, this one foresees tech making life easier and more hopeful. Even better, it encourages young viewers to dream big. 

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  • 6
    24 VOTES

    Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets

    Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets is generally a good-natured sci-fi tale, but the opening sequence really establishes why that's important. David Bowie's song "Space Odyssey" plays over the soundtrack as we witness something inspiring. Astronauts from different countries and planets warmly greet each other upon docking their spacecraft in what becomes a massive floating city called Alpha. It's a montage of handshakes as these disparate beings all come together for the greater good. 

    From there, the story kicks into full gear as two special operatives are charged with protecting Alpha from a sinister force looking to take it out. The whole idea behind Valerian, as indicated by that opening sequence, is that in the future everyone has figured out how to live together peacefully. Moreover, when something threatens that utopian lifestyle, a concerted effort is made to protect it. A world without petty wars or bigotry against those who are different is seen as sufficiently important to be defended. The movie understands how amazing it would be if such an event could happen for real.

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