15 Movies Explain What The Metaverse Might Look Like

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When Mark Zuckerberg announced he was renaming his company Meta and announced an ambitious plan to create the Metaverse, the internet might as well have exploded. All of a sudden everybody wanted to know what the Metaverse was and how it would revolutionize how we interact. As much as Zuckerberg popularized the Metaverse, it wasn’t a new idea. Not by far. The concept of the metaverse has been around for almost a hundred years. In fact, in the 1930s, a short story by science fiction writer Stanley G. Weinbaum called Pygmalion’s Spectacles contained the idea of a pair of goggles that let the wearer experience a fictional world through holographic smell, taste, and touch and sight. Weinbaum’s story describes an uncanny resemblance to what we think of modern virtual reality (VR), making him a true visionary.

When Mark Zuckerberg announced he was renaming his company Meta and announced an ambitious plan to create the Metaverse, the internet might as well have exploded. All of a sudden everybody wanted to know what the Metaverse was and how it would revolutionize how we interact. As much as Zuckerberg popularized the Metaverse, it wasn’t a new idea. Not by far. The concept of the metaverse has been around for almost a hundred years. 

In fact, in the 1930s, a short story by science fiction writer Stanley G. Weinbaum called Pygmalion’s Spectacles contained the idea of a pair of goggles that let the wearer experience a fictional world through holographic smell, taste, and touch and sight. Weinbaum’s story describes an uncanny resemblance to what we think of modern virtual reality (VR), making him a true visionary.

But then what is the difference between VR and the metaverse? There’s no straightforward answer because nobody really knows what the metaverse is. At the moment, it is only theoretical. One possibility that would make the metaverse different from VR would be the ability to interact with each other and create a complex, responsive digital world. 

The Metaverse, like a lot of exciting tech, was first coined by author Neal Stephen in his 1992 science fiction novel Snow Crash, where humans interact with computers in a virtual space.

Since we don’t really have any point of reference of what the Metaverse is, we’ll turn to some science fiction films to see how they handle virtual reality.

Most of these films deal with the downside of the technology and what happens when it goes wrong to create drama and intrigue, but we believe the Metaverse will be a lot more mundane… and safer. 

Most of these films deal with themes of how do we know if we are in reality or some form of computer simulation.  

Free Guy

Free Guy is a 2021 action-comedy film starring Ryan Reynolds. In the movie, a man discovers he is a fictional character in a massively multiplayer online game and partners with a real player to prove that a gaming company's CEO stole the player's source code. 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X2m-08cOAbc

Total Recall 

Total Recall is a 1990 American science fiction action film directed by Paul Verhoeven. The film stars Arnold Schwarzenegger and is based on the short story "We Can Remember It for You Wholesale" by Philip K. Dick. Total Recall tells the story of Douglas Quaid a construction worker who receives an implanted memory of a fantastical adventure on Mars. He subsequently finds his adventure occurring in what he perceives as reality – agents of a shadow organization trying to prevent him from recovering memories of his past life as a Martian secret agent aiming to stop the tyrannical regime of a Martian dictator. 

The Matrix

The film depicts a dystopian future in which humanity is unknowingly trapped inside a simulated reality called The Matrix, where machines have created to distract humans while using their bodies as an energy source. When computer programmer Thomas Anderson, under the hacker alias "Neo", uncovers the truth, he joins a rebellion against the machines. Perhaps the most loved movie on this list, the film is an amazing combination of action-adventure, great cinematography and editing. 

Ready Player One 

Directed by Stephen Spielberg, set in 2045, much of humanity uses the OASIS, a virtual reality simulation to escape the real world which has been all but destroyed. The orphaned Wade Watts finds clues to a contest that promises the ownership of the OASIS to the winner after its creator dies. Watt and his allies complete in three challenges to win the prize before an evil corporation can beat them to it.

Lawnmower Man

The Lawnmower Man is a 1992 science fiction horror film directed by Brett Leonard. It is about an intellectually disabled gardener who is experimented on by a scientist in an effort to give him greater intelligence. The experiments (of course) goes wrong and gives the gardener superhuman abilities, and along with it enhanced aggression. As the gardener becomes increasingly unhinged, he becomes obsessed with evolving into a completely digital being.

Space Jam

Unlike most other entries on this list, this one is a fun one and might actually be the one that is closest to what the Metaverse might actually look like. Space Jam is a 1996 American live-action/animated comedy. The film stars basketball player Michael Jordan as a fictional version of himself. The film is a fictionalized account of the timeline between Jordan's initial retirement from the NBA in 1993 and his 1995 return, during which he is enlisted by the Looney Tunes characters to aid them in a basketball match against visiting aliens who intend to enslave them as attractions for their amusement park.

Thirteenth Floor

In a futuristic version of Los Angeles, a billionaire invents a state-of-art virtual simulation of 1937 Los Angeles, filled with simulated humans unaware they are computer programs. When the billionaire is murdered just as he begins premature testing of the VR system, his friend and protégé, who is also the heir to the company, becomes the primary suspect. The evidence against him is so strong that Hall begins to doubt his own innocence. Things become even blurrier as reality and simulation are called into question and nobody knows what is real and what isn’t. 

Ender’s Game

Ender's Game is a 1985 military science fiction novel by American author Orson Scott Card that was turned into a film. Set in Earth's future, Earth must face the third invasion of an insectoid alien species after two unsuccessful attempts to destroy humanity. In preparation for an anticipated third invasion, Earth's military forces recruit young children, including Andrew "Ender" Wiggin, to be trained as elite officers. The children learn military strategy and leadership by playing increasingly difficult war games, where Ender's tactical genius is revealed. There is no doubt that the Metaverse will be used for many different types of training – including warfare. 

Source Code 

Starring Jake Gyllenhaal as a U.S army soldier who has to try to discover the identity of the terrorist who bombs a train. With the evidence obliterated, the only way he can find the culprit is by creating an eight-minute digital replica of the event. 

This is an interesting take on how the Metaverse can be used for law enforcement as a way to solve crimes and capture criminals. One day it might be possible to reenact how a crime was committed using the metaverse. 

Minority Report

Speaking of solving crimes, the next on the list stars Tom Cruise as John Anderton. This film is about a future where an elite law enforcement team uses three gifted humans with special powers to see into the future and predict crimes before they happen. However, things go horribly wrong when it’s predicted that John Anderton, the head of this unit will murder somebody within the next 36 hours. Anderton must somehow prove his innocence by finding the flaw in the system. 

While this film has a film noir feel to it, the theme of crime prediction might one day be possible using the metaverse which would help us stop violent crimes from occurring. 

Avatar 

For the longest time, this was the highest-grossing movie of all time. IT’s written, directed and produced by James Cameron. Set in the mid-22nd century when humans are trying to colonize a beautiful plant called Pandora in order to mine it. 

To explore Pandora, scientists use alien-human avatars operated by marines. These are the ultimate weapons against the indigenous species called the Na’vi since it allows humans to infiltrate them. Jake, a paraplegic former Marine, replaces his deceased identical twin brother as an operator of one of the avatars. While escorting a group of avatars on a mission, Jake's avatar is attacked and is forced to flee into the forest, where he is rescued by a local Na’vi woman named Neytiri. 

Among its many themes, the movie explores how it could be possible to use another body to move around and explore new landscapes and what effect that would have. 

Iron Man 

This is the film that kicked off the Marvel franchise. It tells the story of Tony Stark who after narrowly escaping death after he’s kidnapped, builds a body armour suit with weapons. Starring Robert Downey Jr and Gwyneth Paltrow, initially, Iron Man was a vehicle for its comic book creator, Stan Lee, to explore Cold War themes, particularly the role of American technology and industry in the fight against communism. Subsequent re-imaginings of Iron Man have transitioned from Cold War motifs to contemporary matters. 

Black Mirror 

Black Mirror has become the modern version of The Twilight Zone, telling various science fiction stories and exploring various themes. In the third season, there is an episode called ‘Playtest’ where an American named Cooper is testing out an upcoming augmented reality game in London after his identity is stolen. The video game accesses the player’s brain and targets their fear. 

This episode looks at what would happen if too much time was spent immersed in VR technology and what kind of effects it has on the mind. 

Tron 

Tron is a science fiction action-adventure film written and directed by Steven Lisberger. The film stars Jeff Bridges as a computer programming genius who is transported inside the software world of a mainframe computer where he is forced to interact with its program as he attempts to escape it. It was one of the first films to use extensive computer-generated graphics and was followed up by Tron Legacy in 2010. 

Tron has become a cult classic over the years and is yet another interesting early look at how the Metaverse would look and be used as a form of entertainment within the gaming industry. 

Westworld 

Most people know the Westworld TV series but it was originally a feature film written and directed by Michael Crichton. The film depicts an advanced theme park based on old Western movies. The theme park is populated by robots who act out different archetypal characters and, of course, things go wrong when the robots malfunction and start to kill the human visitors. This was yet another early depiction of what the Metaverse might be like. 

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