I haven't read the novel yet but according to the online sources, the events in The Martian take place in 2035 in the novel. I've watched the movie for about 7-8 times till now but couldn't find any clue in the movie about the date. I did carefully inspect many of the computer screens in it where none of them did include any date in them except the mentions of "Sol" counts and month and day information but no mention of the year again. I admit that there can be some screens which I may have missed. For example, the mission display of the Iris probe includes Mars and Earth time counts in it but the resolution at those frames doesn't allow to read what they are actually displaying. The only computer screenshots that I can't be sure of are the Chinese ones.

Also, the team members of the original Pathfinder missions don't look like that they are in their 70s or 80s. If the movie was taking place in 2035 they should certainly be about around 70-80 at best.

Every detail in the movie makes it look like that the events are taking place around our current timeframe.

So, in short, why did they hide the year in the movie or make it look like it's at furthest taking place in around 2020 or something.

  • The novel doesn't mention the date either. It's left to the readers to infer the date from the details. Aug 1, 2016 at 19:04

2 Answers 2


This is opinion, but I'd say there are two reasons:

  1. The film isn't hard SciFi. Unlike Alien/Blade Runner/Prometheus the sci-fi isn't the driver of the story, it's intended to be a Robinson Crusoe/Cast Away/Apollo 13 kind of thing, about man's will to survive against the odds using ingenuity. To set the film too far in the future would possibly drive the potential audience away as people might think of it as a Star Trek kind of film.
  2. Dates tend to come back to haunt you - In Blade Runner's world of 2016, Roy Batty should be alive, LA should be a dark place with giant video billboards, flying cars and pyramids. Avoiding being explicit allows it to be a bit in the future, without dating it later.
  • Logical and not far away from my thoughts about it. I'll wait a little longer before accepting your answer for possible answers containing any comments from the film crew.
    – Montag451
    Aug 1, 2016 at 20:02
  • I'll personally be super disappointed (from the grave) if we're not exploring space in a star ship called Enterprise by the 24th Century. The again, not sure I'm looking forward to a Post-Nuclear Horror anytime soon.
    – SGR
    Aug 3, 2016 at 9:09
  • Well, unless Donald Trump is really Khan Noonian Singh, that timeline has already slipped, so don't hold your breath.... Aug 3, 2016 at 10:17

To quote Andy Weir from this inverview.

The launch window: I won't tell you the date, because I may have a contest some day to have people figure out the launch date from the information in the book. But it is based on a real world date.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .