Great essay on 2001, Armageddon and how optimism became uncouth.
I do think that, to a very real extent, our film industry's portrayal of space and its exploration is tied into our relationship with actual real-world space travel. Nor is this a new thing; it goes back six decades, at the very least.
In the full rush of the space race and close to the climax of the Apollo program, which did in fact send men to the moon, 2001: A Space Odyssey reflected the confidence we had with our progress into space. It was optimistic but not unreasonable to think that just a couple decades into the (then) future we would have expanded our reach into space to orbital stations and moon bases and that Pan Am, one of the great airline companies, would, naturally, have service to them.
That optimism regarding space travel soured in the seventies, along with much of the U.S. optimism about, well, pretty much everything, and, by 1977, the can-do spirit of Destination Moon and optimistic technical assumptions of 2001 had been replaced by the cynical view of Capricorn One, in which a mission to Mars is faked owing to both a fatal flaw in technology and the need for the space program to have a "win" to keep its funding flowing. NASA had become just another government bureaucracy and its mission just another way for the public to be lied to by its government.
Maggie Koerth-Baker is the science editor at BoingBoing.net. She writes a monthly column for The New York Times Magazine and is the author of Before the Lights Go Out, a book about electricity, infrastructure, and the future of energy. You can find Maggie on Twitter and Facebook.