In Tomorrowland Plus Ultra is the name of the group that founds the secret city of Tomorrowland, sometime at the turn of the 20th century (or around 1889, when the Eiffel Tower opened). Their origins and intentions aren't explored much in the film, and neither is the history of the city. Some of that is dealt with in the short below, animated by Pixar and shown at D23 a couple of years ago (and, I'm told, at some LA screenings of Tomorrowland. Did it play near you?). Watch, and then we'll discuss:
What a fascinating short, if only because I think it gives us insight into what Tomorrowland could have been. The film that opened this weekend felt... mangled on a fundamental level, and this cartoon has more thematic stuff going on then the entire movie.
Think about the ending. Frank has built a machine that beams out vibes, for lack of a better word, to everyone on earth. The vibes it is sending are negative ones, making everybody unhappy/leading to the apocalypse. The wrong wolf is being fed, to use the movie's parlance. They have Casey with them, a girl who seems to have the super power of positive thought - just saying that she wants to stop the end of the world changes Frank's apocalypse-o-meter from 100% doom to 99% doom. So you have this positive thinking girl and this vibe-transmitter, so how do you end the movie?
Blowing up the transmitter and dropping it on the bad guy, of course.
That's just one plot point clearly revised by the studio. On a larger scale I do not understand what is happening in Tomorrowland. Is it just Nix and some robots now? Where is everyone? Why is a city patrolled by super fixit robots in such disrepair? What happened to all that tech they were creating there? What was the point of Tomorrowland anyway? Why don't Frank and Casey bring the advanced tech to earth, rather than bring new people to Tomorrowland? Just the teleportation doors alone could wipe out world hunger by allowing us to reallocate food stores instantly.
I honestly don't understand any of this, and I think that the movie, in some previous iteration, must have addressed these things. It's interesting that the movie never even has an opinion about sharing Tomorrowland's tech - it is literally never even brought up - but that the short mentions that the city will be opened up to humanity after 20 years. Somewhere in the process Brad Bird and Damon Lindelof understood that the number one concern people would have about Tomorrowland would be "Who is this helping?" and they had considered answering it.
I hope someone digs up an early draft of this film. The finished product is wonky and bad and half-assed (why do the robots maintain a nostalgia shop in Texas? What is the actual point of that location being staffed and monitored? Why do they want to find Athena if she had been exiled?) and while I am no fan of Lindelof, I simply cannot believe the movie we saw truly represents the vision that Bird started off with. If anything, this cartoon indicates to me that there was another movie being made, one that we'll never see.