If there’s one thing Hollywood can’t resist, it’s the chance to remake (or reboot) a beloved franchise. Director Jose Padhilla’s recent RoboCop re-imagining took the tale of a half-man, half-machine hero into the modern age, presenting a slicker, sleeker, and more complicated hero.
The result was better than some may have expected (read our review), and while it may be different from the original, there’s no question younger audiences have a new take on the property to call their own. With that in mind, we can’t help but think that a few other robotic movie characters might benefit from a similar upgrade.
Here is our list of 10 Robotic Characters That Could Use An Upgrade.
As seen in: Godzilla vs. MechaGodzilla (1974)
The legendary monsters made famous by the Godzilla series have become just as famous as its title character, but the introduction of Mechagodzilla is one of the most memorable moments in the franchise. Initially masquerading as the real Godzilla, Mechagodzilla would do battle with his flesh-and-blood counterpart on a number of occasions.
Now that Godzilla is being given a second life thanks to director Gareth Edwards, and sequels are already being discussed, who better to bring the hulking hero down to Earth than a robotic duplicate made with today’s technology? Audiences have shown that they’re willing to line up to see Transformers and the Jaegers of Pacific Rim, so it stands to reason that a re-imagined Mechagodzilla will be next.
As seen in: SpaceCamp (1986)
Children becoming fast friends with sentient robots is nothing new, but few depict a likable robot as unique as Jinx, the slightly faulty NASA robot who sets the events of SpaceCamp in motion.
While Gravity may have recently told the same basic story (with a few changes), the success of sci-fi franchises proves that space still excites children and adults. A reboot of SpaceCamp would be difficult to pull off, but the kind of robot who is smart enough to launch a shuttle almost single-handedly – yet dumb enough to not realize it’s sending the children aboard to almost certain death – is just too compelling a character to leave on a shelf.
As seen in: Lost in Space (1965-68)
The phrase is famous to those who may not even know its origins – “Danger! Danger, Will Robinson!” – and irrefutable proof that there really was something special about B-9, the robotic guardians of the youngest character on Lost in Space. A robot bodyguard is a boy’s best friend, but only if it’s an embodiment of cutting-edge technology.
Technically, B-9 already received an upgrade in the reboot Lost in Space (1998) with some impressive modern features. But with limited mobility and combat effectiveness, we still believe that B-9 (like the property he belongs to) is still capable of being re-imagined to mass success, despite the failed attempts.
As seen in: Logan’s Run (1976)
There is plenty to find odd about the plot of Logan’s Run, depicting a future society which prevents overpopulation by… eliminating anyone once they turn 30. Yet there is something especially peculiar about the being dubbed ‘Box,’ a creature that is “more than machine,” assigned to gather and freeze animals to be consumed later.
Essentially, it makes Box a walking (rolling) freezer with a human head, hands, and an unquenchable lust for killing. Despite that chilling description, the creature is rather unimpressive. Hollywood hasn’t given up on a Logan’s Run remake, so hopefully we’ll see an updated Box before long.
As seen in: The Black Hole (1979)
It’s hard to talk about the many robotic characters seen in Disney’s The Black Hole without bringing up Maximilian, the futuristic and savage robotic killer whom the film’s main characters stumble upon on the edge of a black hole. But he’s not the only artificial being who wowed audiences.
B.O.B (BiO-sanitation Battalion) and V.I.N.CENT (Vital Information Necessary CENTralized) pack as much of a punch, but a modern upgrade seems inevitable since Disney is most certainly rebooting the film. Director Joseph Kosinski seems to be a fan of Maxmilian in particular, but we hope just as much time is spent on re-imagining the friendlier duo.
As seen in: *batteries not included (1987)
Any child of the 1980s knows the story: the inhabitants of a run-down New York apartment building have their prayers answered by a family of flying robots capable of repairing the building – and even helping out in the kitchen! Given how beloved *batteries not included is, it’s hard to believe a reboot hasn’t already been made.
But any update would have to address the fact that the flying ‘Fix-Its’ are never explained. Are they aliens? Sentient machines? Do they simply have a knack for real estate? Whatever the answer, the special effects potential of small flying robots repairing everything from electronics to masonry is too strong for Hollywood to overlook much longer.
As seen in: Clash of the Titans (1981)
The modern remake of the classic swords-and-sandals epic Clash of the Titans was a crowd-pleaser, once again chronicling Perseus’ battle against Medusa, the Kraken, and many other threats. But the reboot left one pivotal character out: Bubo, the mechanical replica of Athena’s owl granted to Perseus to aid him on his quest.
Sure, the essentially robotic owl was somewhat out of place in the mythical setting, but that didn’t reduce his effectiveness. We were enraged when the remake reduced Bubo to the butt of a joke, rather than adapting the creature into a CG powerhouse worthy of a demigod. If we ever get a third chapter, Bubo had better be starring.
As seen in: Forbidden Planet (1956)
When Forbidden Planet was released in 1956, it not only introduced the first band of human beings journeying to a distant planet in a spacecraft, but a robotic character that all others would emulate. Almost six decades later, nobody has stepped up to try to re-imagine a version of the story or the robot that will lead the way for the next generation.
While the film’s poster depicts Robby the Robot abducting a woman, the real character was honest, friendly, and genuinely witty. Since that alone makes him a coveted guest at any dinner party, a modern updating of the character could do wonders for the sci-fi genre, already enjoying a resurgence that Robby could take to a new level.
As seen in: The Jetsons (1962-1988)
Ask any fan of The Jetsons, Hanna-Barbera’s futuristic family and they’ll tell you that if it wasn’t for Rosie the robot maid, cook, housekeeper and confidant Rosie, the family would fall apart. Despite only appearing twice in the original series, the 1980s run made her one of the most memorable – and a dream come true if remade for today’s world.
We’d be happy to see The Jetsons return in any form these days (even if the future they promised has yet to arrive), but combine the unseen world existing below the family’s feet, Rosie’s penchant for disciplining the children, and dispensing pills left and right, and an updated Rosie could even make a fitting villain for a chilling sci-fi thriller.
As seen in: Short Circuit (1986)
We don’t know what it says about modern attitudes that if an experimental military robot were struck by lightning in a modern film, it would likely set out to wipe humanity from the Earth. But in Short Circuit, the robot known as Number 5 (later ‘Johnny Five’) takes his newfound intelligence as a chance to embrace life in every way.
These days its seems most likely for a re-imagined Johnny Five to star in a Pixar film, but given how many films have claimed artificial intelligence will destroy the world, not grant it new friends, the time is right for this story to be retold to modern audiences, regardless of who ends up with the task.
That’s just 10 of the many films starring or featuring robotic characters that we believe would be just as impressive if provided with a modern upgrade. Fans may see some of these properties rebooted before long, but how well the filmmakers remain faithful to their robotic source material remains to be seen.
Be sure to mention your own favorites in the comments.
RoboCop is in theaters now.
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