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Time Travel: Differences in Media

Updated on March 26, 2016
Michael Bay and time travel. An explosive combination.
Michael Bay and time travel. An explosive combination. | Source

Time Travel

Project Almanac, a 2015 film produced by Michael Bay, tells the story of a group of teenagers gaining access to a time machine. They then proceed to change certain events in the past so that things worked out in their favor. There were consequences that the trailer exposed about time travel however.

  • Changing one's past meant that the altered timeline could potentially cause a major disaster to occur that would have normally have been avoided.
  • Meeting with one's past self meant that the past and present versions of the time traveler would be completely erased from all time.

While the ideas of time travel and its consequences have been told through various forms of media over the years, there were some unique ideas that were presented in some cases. First and foremost was Back to the Future 2 with its ideas about time travel and how introducing an item to the future to the present could affect the future as a whole. Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain, and one of its sequels, Soul Reaver 2 introduced the concept of time paradoxes and how time would try to eliminate the paradox to restore stability and keep time from being altered. Ben 10 Omniverse, in its final season, had episodes that involved time travel and how that ability had the positive aspect of altering events that had a negative outcome, and changing the timeline so that a better outcome would be achieved instead. In other words, a rewind button. The rules of time travel were varied in how one went about changing time and its repercussions, but most ideas dealt about repeating time through one single moment.

Or more like "go further into the future and present an item from the future into the present, thus altering the future".
Or more like "go further into the future and present an item from the future into the present, thus altering the future". | Source

Branching Timeline

Back to the Future ended with Marty McFly, the protagonist, altering time in a way that resulted in him and his family living a life that was much better compared to its unaltered state. Back to the Future 2 had the villain of the first movie, Biff, acquiring a sports almanac Marty was forced to throw away, temporarily traveled to the past via the DeLorean time machine, and gave his past self the sports almanac causing time to be altered so that Biff became the richest man in America. Here, the viewer was introduced to the concept of a branching timeline. Basically what happened was that the moment future Biff gave his past self an item from the future that foretold future event. At this precise moment the timeline became permanently altered so that Biff becoming rich via the sports almanac would become the official timeline. As a result Marty was forced to:

  • Travel back in time to the events of the first movie and retrieve the almanac at this precise date because allowing Biff the opportunity to have, much less use, the sports almanac would still result in time being altered in some manner.
  • Avoid having the past him from the first movie see him, or risk altering the timeline even further than it already was.
  • Destroy the almanac to make sure that it could not be used to alter history ever again.

The protagonist is a vampire. That fact will come into play several times.
The protagonist is a vampire. That fact will come into play several times. | Source
Changing an event from the past will just force time into making a different source for the same event.
Changing an event from the past will just force time into making a different source for the same event. | Source

History Can Change, But Not Really

In the game Blood Omen, Kain the Vampire, with the help of a wizard named Moebius, eventually gained the ability to travel through time. Referred to as the Time Streamer. With this Kain would attempt to prevent the destruction of the land of Nosgoth by the hands of the Nemesis, the initial villain of the story, by murdering him before he became what he was in Kain's timeline. This would hopefully spare the land of Nosgoth of bloodshed and a horrible enemy Unfortunately, when Kain did try to murder the Nemesis, he did so at a time where the Nemesis was not some horrible tyrant or adversary. Named King William the just, Kain's murder of him did prevent Nosgoth from being destroyed by some overpowered tyrant, Moebius betrayed Kain by proclaiming that William was a martyr against the threat of vampires, which resulted in vampires like Kain becoming victims of genocide. In Soul Reaver 2 Kain laments that time itself will always find a way to make history play out exactly as it to prevent any permanent alterations from happening. So in this version of time travel:

  • Altering the future is possible, but time will make the alterations mean very little in that events will occur that either mirror the original timeline's events, or make things even worse.
  • Someone with time powers could potentially exploit another person's alterations to time for their own agenda if they were at that event of alteration or planned to manipulate the resulting timeline to their own whims.
  • If the alteration to time involved murder, the person who had to be murdered may not be as bad or the death may be seen as cruel to the people of the past. The Nemesis may have been some horrific force in Nosgoth's present, but in the past he was King William the Just. As a more beloved king, Kain's murder of him and Moebius's manipulations made people in the new timeline desire to avenge William's death rather than celebrate the future catastrophes his murder prevented.

Instant Rerun

While time travel can be dangerous if used by inexperienced people unaware of the changes changing the timeline can have, time travelers who have immortality as a side-effect of exposure to the rifts of time have the privilege of learning how to alter time without serious damage chronologically and the foresight to use their abilities to help people. In the Ben 10 franchise Ben Tennyson has had adventures where he interacted with his future self, referred to as Ben 10,000. In Ben 10: Alien Force a character by the name of Professor Paradox was a scientist who had time manipulation powers. In the Ben 10: Omniverse episode Let's Do the Time War Again Ben 10.000 and Professor Paradox had to help the younger Ben battle a monster with its own time manipulation abilities.But there was a problem of Ben doing something that messed-up reality. So Professor Paradox had to use his time travel abilities to:

It's like looking at a mirror. Sometimes an older mirror.
It's like looking at a mirror. Sometimes an older mirror. | Source
  • Go back in time to help past Ben fight the time monster in a way that did not cause time to be altered negatively. After the first fight with the time monster ended with time being permanently slowed-down, Professor Paradox and Ben 10,000 had to go back to the time just before Past Ben accidentally messed-up time and space.
  • Go back to the same point of time when Ben initially was about to fight the time monster and prevent any distractions from stopping Ben. Unfortunately, this version of Ben from the past accidentally caused a black hole to form in this version of the timeline, so everybody had to go back in time at the same point again.
  • The second time actually had Ben succeed in defeating the monster without horrible side-effects. Using time-based motorcycles created by Professor Paradox and Ben 10,000, the past Ben from the previous timeline was able to turn the time monster into an egg and not cause any permanent damage to time and space.
  • Professor Paradox then sent all of the Ben 10s to their appropriate timelines, ensuring no damage to anybody's timeline.

Varied Interpretation

Time Travel can be a confusing subject. If an object from the future made its way to the past, time would be altered to reflect whatever changes that object from the future made. Depending on how things were in the past, killing someone could change history, but depending on how people interpret one's actions, things may not change too much. Having an instant rerun ability and the time to become skilled at time travel may prevent severe consequences from happening, though.

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