Nostalgia returns on screen: A resurgence of ‘80s culture



The entertainment industry is currently in the midst of bringing back ‘80s nostalgia, whether that is remaking, rebooting, reviving, or even creating projects centering around the ‘80s. Popular entertainment projects released this summer have piqued the interest of the audience due to their flare and unique aesthetics, establishing a cultural legacy.

Stranger Things 4 

Rating: 5/5

One of the biggest ‘80s revival contributors is “Stranger Things,” which follows Eleven, a girl with powerful psychic powers, and her friends. The show, which is set in the 1980s, was created by the Duffer brothers. The highly anticipated fourth season focuses on the mysterious deaths of teenagers and delves deep into the creation of The Upside Down, the alternate dimension that houses many monsters. 

A reason why “Stranger Things” is so enjoyable is due to the incorporation of ‘80s culture. Vivid colors, from Eleven Hopper’s colorful mall playsuit to Will Byers’s much-criticized bowl cut, enhance viewers’ experiences immediately drawing fans to the ’80s-influenced appearances of the characters.

Perhaps the most notable aspect in the fourth season is the rise in popularity of ‘80s music. Songs such as “Material Girl” by Madonna and “Time After Time” by Cyndi Lauper trended when previous seasons were released. “Running Up That Hill” by Kate Bush re-entered multiple music charts and became the most streamed song on Spotify when the first volume of the fourth season was released. Metallica’s “Master of Puppets,” which was introduced in the season finale, also joined Kate Bush’s hit at the top of the charts. 

Hence, “Stranger Things 4” exquisitely encapsulates ‘80s nostalgia, establishing a unique bond between viewers and ‘80s traditions.


Only Murders in the Building 

Rating: 4/5

The second season of “Only Murders in the Building” attracted a lot of attention from viewers with the pushes and pulls as the mystery unravels. 

The show follows three strangers who all live in the same building, the Arconia. They meet and develop a friendship from a shared interest in a true crime podcast. In season two, the three find themselves possibly implicated in a murder. The core trio are given layers to their character as they explore their lives and relationships in and outside the Arconia.

Two of the main actors, Steve Martin and Martin Short, both starred in popular films in the ‘80s. 

After retiring from stand-up comedy, Martin starred in films such as “Three Amigos,” “L.A. Story” and “Men Don’t Wear Plaid.” 

Short was featured in a variety of movies such as “Innerspace,” “Cross My Heart” and “Three Fugitives.” 

Martin’s character Charles, who is an actor, regularly talks about his most popular and successful role as a detective in a show from the ‘80s. Additionally, Charles recorded the 1989 song “Angels in Flip-Flops,” which has been sampled by famous current artists such as Missy Elliott and Post Malone. 

The show not only references elements from the ‘80s but also embraces the cast’s older members, resulting in unique energy with fun banter and references.


Top Gun: Maverick 

Rating: 4/5

Currently the highest-grossing film of 2022, “Top Gun: Maverick” impeccably weaves ‘80s nostalgia into the plot. The long-awaited sequel was directed by Joseph Kosinski with stars Tom Cruise and Val Kilmer reprising their roles from the original 1986 film. The film follows the main protagonist Maverick, who trains a new generation of TOPGUN graduates for a life-threatening mission while rebuilding his relationship with his late best friend’s son. 

Although both movies primarily focus on the adventure of naval aviators, the sequel refines storylines for Maverick. Cruise still perfects Maverick’s arrogant personality from the original film, but he allows his character to explore maturity through the loss of his best friend and as an aspiring guide to the younger aviators. Maverick not only builds a romantic relationship with Penny Benjamin once again but the film masters the pacing of the couple’s arc by building suspense and tension to show the rocky side of the relationship. 

Both films are really similar in the sense that they are action-packed. “Top Gun: Maverick” captures the audience’s attention through intense plane flying scenes, such as Cruise’s stunts, which included flying a plane, that allow viewers to feel as though they were part of the scene. 

Not only does “Top Gun: Maverick” embody the same charm the original film had, it also exceeds the expectations set in the original film, attracting millions of viewers. 


Thor: Love and Thunder

Rating: 3/5

The latest Marvel Cinematic Universe  (MCU) installment, “Thor: Love and Thunder,” expertly pays homage to the films of the ‘80s through costume, music, stunt and other references. Directed by Taika Waititi, the film embarks on a galactic adventure. 

Thor’s retirement gets interrupted by Gorr the God Butcher, a cosmic killer who seeks to murder all gods. To combat the threat, Thor creates a team consisting of King Valkyrie, Korg and Thor’s ex-girlfriend Jane Foster, who embraces the mantle of “The Mighty Thor” after wielding Mjolnir, Thor’s magic hammer. 

The film attempts to balance the out-there, fun energy of rock and roll with more serious themes of love and sacrifice. 

“Thor: Love and Thunder” masters ‘80s music by placing four songs from Guns N’ Roses, a popular band from the ‘80s, on its soundtrack. 

Each song is well-placed and elevates the film’s quality. “Welcome to the Jungle” introduces the audience to the film, establishing the energy the film aims to bring. “November Rain” in the final battle scene starts slower and softer, then escalates to be a more tragic experience, reflecting the high emotional stakes.

Additionally, the vibrant colors and style of the costumes add to the ‘80s aesthetic. Thor’s Ravager outfit of a red leather vest, snug white shirt and tight jeans pays homage to Kurt Russell in “Big Trouble in Little China” (1986).