“But the magic trick of those movies is…”: 2 Legendary Time Travel Flicks Inspired Bruce Willis’ Looper

The time-travelling saga... Rian Johnson's Looper continued the trend with these two classic sci-fi flicks!

2 Legendary Time Travel Flicks Inspired Bruce Willis' Looper


  • Rian Johnson's Looper stars Bruce Willis, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and Emily Blunt in lead roles.
  • The sci-fi flick is inspired by two time-traveling classic movies: 12 Monkeys and Back to the Future.
  • Johnson believes time travel stories are intensely relatable, contemplating their past and future selves.
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Looper is a 2012 sci-fi/time travel/action movie. It is set in 2044 and directed by Rian Johnson. The movie’s main stars are Bruce Willis, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and Emily Blunt. Its story is based on hitmen called “loopers” in the present who kill people sent from the future by criminal groups.

A still from Looper
A still from Looper

In the movie, Joe, played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt, works as a looper (a futuristic assassin), to kill people sent back in time by a criminal group. The catch is he mustn’t let his target escape, even if that target happens to be himself.

Whereas another actor, Willis, takes on the role of the older, supposedly wiser assassin — who’s sent back in time by a criminal syndicate to erase him from history. But do you know, this time-travel movie drew inspiration from two iconic time-traveling films, which you might not be aware of.


Also read: Star Wars Director Rian Johnson Has An Interesting Theory For The Time-Travel Conundrum After His Film Starring Emily Blunt And Bruce Willis

Bruce Willis’ Looper is Inspired by Two Iconic Time Travelling Movies

12 Monkeys (1995)
12 Monkeys (1995)

Director Rian Johnson told NPR that he wrote the script for Looper as a short film, which was initially inspired by the writings of Philip K. Dick. He said that he “was reading all of his books,” and he thought his “head was just kind of in this soup of time travel ideas.”

Time travel is one of the tricky plots to work with. Johnson found that even classic time travel movies like Bruce Willis12 Monkeys and Back to the Future had elements that didn’t entirely make sense. The director explained:


“But the magic trick of those movies is, it constructs this story where it really is like a magician with a deck of cards.”

He added that its story can make you believe in the logic for a couple of hours “so that you can go along on this ride.” The director looks fascinatingly influenced by these movies, and no doubt, he would have definitely taken inspiration from these two.

Also read: Bruce Willis Hated the Notion of Being Forced To Retire, Claimed “I think I’ll just keep working” in a Heartbreaking Resurfaced Interview From 2010

Rian Johnson’s Take on Time Travel and Looper World

Rian Johnson
Rian Johnson, the director of Looper

Rian Johnson was not particularly interested in taking a fantasy genre in time travel. He said, “It’s such a fantasy, kind of false moral conundrum.” The director continued:


“It’s something that has very little to do with real life, whereas the basic question of, does it work to solve the problem by finding the right person and killing them, or does that just create this self-perpetuating loop, that’s unfortunately something that is very applicable to the world around us. That’s the more interesting question to me.”

Johnson believes time travel stories are intensely relatable because they often contemplate their past and future selves. He asserted that the most powerful form of time travel is memory, where we frequently revisit moments in our lives and wish we had acted differently.

For Looper, Johnson had to ditch the present and jump into a future —  in a place that doesn’t have flying cars or shiny sci-fi gadgets. Just like a dystopian version of today’s world, all broken down.

He wanted Looper to be real and 12 Monkeys and Back to the Future proved to be two classic time travel movies that provided the best insights for this new age movie.


Watch Looper on Netflix.

Also read: “I love it. Let me sleep on it”: Harvey Weinstein’s Bruised Ego Landed Bruce Willis His Dream Role That Nearly Went to Sandra Bullock’s Crash Co-Star


Written by Shreya Jha

Articles Published: 947

Shreya is an Entertainment News Writer at Fandomwire. She has over a year of experience in journalistic writing with a deep knowledge of entertainment world. After completing her bachelor's program in Journalism and Mass Communication, Shreya is now pursuing her master's degree in the same. Apart from being an avid reader, she's a huge Swiftie and K-culture buff. So yeah, when she's not writing, she will be caught listening to Tay or watching "Business Proposal" for the 100th time.