Edinburgh-based indie band We Were Promised Jetpacks are not solely riding the zeitgeist of their chosen musical genre. The four-piece’s name also points to a school of thought that started who knows when and which may have reached its zenith in Matthew Vaughn’s screen adaptation of Mark Millar’s graphic novel ‘Kick-Ass’. The climax of this superbly witty film (to those who do not wish to know how the film ends, consider this a spoiler alert) arrives when Aaron Johnson’s eponymous masked nerd pulls off an eleventh-hour rescue of his companion Hit-Girl by…the score crescendos…flying in on a jetpack fitted with gattling guns. Rescue complete, the heroes fly off into the sunset, over a cityscape that is a futurist’s wet dream.
In a narrative sense, the entire film serves to bathe in glory the eventual appearance of this jetpack, which comes to stand as a symbol of the remarkable and wondrous power of advanced technology to make the world a brighter place. In a film whose plot is reliant on this era’s real breakthrough technology – social networking – the anachronism of this gesture is all the more pronounced. Jetpacks may have been dreamed in the 1920s and first developed in the ’60s, but for many they are still the single technological breakthrough whose arrival would signify uinvocally that ‘the future has arrived’. Far from Edinburgh’s indie scene, the phrase ‘We Were Promised Jetpacks’ continues to grow as a symbol for the buyer’s remorse we feel upon having lived to see the future.
by Luke Healey