What happened to creativity in futuristic movie fire arms design? Pics inside.

Sahare Studios

New Member
What happened to creativity in futuristic movie fire arms design? In the 80’s, “futuristic” firearms looked nothing like actual firearms of the day. In today’s movies, “futuristic” weapons look almost identical to actual fire arms.

Apart from the ubiquitous design language of hyper angular corners and the inexplicable “fine grooves which seem to serve no purpose”, that design has gravitated towards in the past 15 years.

These are some examples from the same director (James Cameron) 30 years apart.

Is this specific to this director? JC is (was) known to be good at this kind of stuff.

Does anyone have any more examples?

Actual 1986 rifle (M16A2)

Movie 1986 rifle (M41A Pulse Rifle from 2179)


Actual 1986 GPMG (M60)


Movie 1986 GPMG (M56 Smart Gun from 2179)


Actual 2010’s rifle (H&K G36)


Movie 2010’s rifle (Recom M69-AR from 2154)


Actual 2010’s GPMG (H&K MG5)

Movie 2010’s GPMG (AVR M-30 from 2154)

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The ease in designing to manufacturing is the cause. The technology caught up with imagination and the imagination that informs modern designs typically stem from the movies. What unfortunately informs the movies now is the ubiquitous and homogeneous art direction of everything needing plating and redundant seam lines.

Most concept artists now have little experience in other fields and go straight from art school learning the 'look' of concept art straight to productions. So a lot of the work you see produced now just seems reiterative of other things you've seen, or make little visual sense as it's a sprawling mass of odd geometries. Back in the day, people who were heads of designing films typically had prior life experience in other fields or disciplines that carried over into filmwork. To use Star Wars as an example, many artists in that production came from industrial design backgrounds and already had a sense for shape and from from a practical angle that helped inform the artistic aspects to give credibility to their work. That experience from other things applied to everything from costumes, models, and guns.
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I don't really see a problem here.

If the futuristic guns are meant to feel realistic to the audience and are meant to be based in similar technologies to real world guns, then of course concept artists wouldn't want to get too weird with their designs.

Rayguns are still often designed to just look cool. See the Men in Black movies, for example.
I'm just going to go ahead and point out how the STTMP Phaser II is SUCH an amazing product of its time! Every time I see it, I think yup - 1980s. Just like my 80s Laser Tag Starlyte pistol and rifle that borrow heavily from its aesthetic. It's what the future looked like in the 80s. Clean, smooth, retro 1920's art deco streamliner vibe... LOVE IT.

The JJ Trek phaser is just as much a product of its time, designed with just a hint of nods to the original architecture, but incorporating Apple inspired futuristic looks, influenced by Men In Black prop designs. All it's missing is built in lense flare. Which... it kinda provides from all the chrome.
What Star Wars showed us in 1977 was that, even in sci-fi, firearms should have a sense of kinetic impact. Everyone wanted a phaser until they saw Star Wars. It's cooler to imagine shooting back as blaster bolts explode around you than watching random boulders vanish from phaser shots.

In fact, there's nothing more anti-action than a phaser/disruptor fight. Think about it. In a blaster fight everyone is running and gunning. In a phaser/disruptor shootout everyone freezes for the FX shot.

blaster action scene

phaser action scene

It should be no surprise that the most successful future firearm designs IMO are ones at least designed to resemble modern firearms. By "successful" I mean designs that endure and make me want to handle one and go "pew pew".

Sure, the phaser is still cool, but wouldn't it be more fun to blast away with an E-11?
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There is one more aspect to this: many of the blaster designers actually ended up working in the toy industry. Hence the prevalence of Nerf gun designs. With the best prop designers available designing toy guns, it is simply more cost effective to borrow than to create.

...and productions tend to be cheap, lazy and demanding.

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