Maybe the Mayans ended their calendar in 2012 because they ran out of room, or maybe they were secretly subatomic physicists who recognized that solar flares might bombard Earth with neutrinos that would heat the planet’s core hot enough to trigger worldwide earthquakes and tsunamis, forcing humanity to resort to the desperate building of giant arks to save a tiny remnant of our species. We just can’t know. Say this, though, for the Mayans: they inspired disaster movie master Roland Emmerich (Independence Day, Godzilla, The Day After Tomorrow) to do some of his best (that is, most destructive) work in 2012 (pictured).
Of course, that much-wished-for apocalypse didn’t actually happen last year (but that’s okay, Orwell’s 1984 was off, too), but solar flares were also an Earth-threatening menace for Danny Boyle’s Sunshine, set in 2050. As in Armageddon, a crew on a probably-suicidal mission sets off to detonate a nuke that will set the errant celestial body aright. The message in both movies: humanity may just be too fractious – and too inept – to save itself.