The first draft of the “Back to the Future” script is dated February 1981, while “Kingdom of the Crystal Skull” hit theaters in May 2008. This means the nuking the fridge idea survived at least 27 years of development.
While David Koepp is the sole credited screenwriter for “Kingdom of the Crystal Skull,” you can see how the nuking the fridge concept predated him in earlier drafts of the script, such as the version “The Shawshank Redemption” director Frank Darabont wrote (back when the movie was called “Indiana Jones and the City of the Gods”). That version is dated November 2003, but sure enough, Howdy Doody and nuking the fridge are there, proving themselves as resilient as cockroaches in the nuclear apocalypse.
There’s even a shot in “Kingdom of the Crystal Skull” that looks like it was ripped straight from Andrew Probert’s storyboards for the “nuclear test site sequence” in “Back to the Future.” The camera pulls back to show the bomb tower looming over the test site, and it’s virtually identical to one storyboard, as you can see below.
In “Back to the Future,” Marty McFly says to Doc Brown, “Are you telling me that you built a time machine out of a DeLorean?” He’s incredulous at the idea, but Doc reasons, “If you’re gonna build a time machine into a car, why not do it with some style?”
For Doc, “style” includes not only a personalized license plate (“OUTATIME”), but also a dog named Einstein. (Cue Sean Connery saying, “We named the dog Indiana.”) The dog sits in the driver’s seat as the test subject for Doc’s first “temporal experiment,” not unlike how George Lucas used to drive around with his Alaskan Malamute seated up front before the dog-inspired Chewbacca.