‘RoboCop’ Director Discusses The Reboot’s Story & Themes

Published 3 years ago by , Updated December 2nd, 2011 at 11:22 am,

robocop remake RoboCop Director Discusses The Reboots Story & Themes

Nineteen years (at the time of writing this) have passed since RoboCop 3 opened in theaters to a poor critical reception and a paltry $10 million domestic gross. While news of an impending franchise reboot – which will essentially amount to a remake of the original 1987 RoboCop movie – has not gone over well, it’s not so unusual, in this day and age, for Hollywood to revisit a former cash-cow that ended its run on a sour note (as far as its theatrical release goes).

Most of the creative talent behind the slew of upcoming 1980s movie reboots/remakes (Total Recall, Evil Dead, Commandoetc.) have been selling their projects as being grittier and more realistic in design than their predecessors. However, the director behind the new RoboCop flick, José Padilha, has been largely focused on promoting his film’s thematic qualities.

Padilha has previously talked about how his Robocop movie will focus on the eponymous character’s personal conflict – not only in terms of how he is a pawn controlled by corporate interests, but how former human cop Alex Murphy copes with being transformed into a human/machine hybrid.

In an interview with Bleeding Cool, Padilha even succinctly summed up the basic premise behind his RoboCop movie:

“[It involves] a man being turned into a product by a corporation.”

The idea of an individual both being manipulated by greater powers and struggling to handle his own personal demons is one that Padilha has tackled before, most recently in the police/crime drama sequel Elite Squad: The Enemy Within. However, with RoboCop, the filmmaker says he plans to also examine certain issues more pertinent to modern-age warfare tactics and the use of technology for purposes of defense/attack.

Here is how Padilha describes one of the central philosophical dilemmas that will be explored in his RoboCop reboot:

“Wars in the future are going to be fought with drones. We won’t send a plane with a pilot in, it will be drone. It’s getting that way now and ten years from now that’s how wars are going to be fought. But what if a drone goes wrong – who is to blame then? Do you blame the drone? And that problem asks if you can you consider a robot guilty of a crime. Or is it the corporation that made the robot that is guilty? How do you fight back against drones when you don’t have drones?”

peter weller robocop1 RoboCop Director Discusses The Reboots Story & Themes

Peter Weller as the original 'RoboCop'

Director Paul Verhoeven did touch on existential issues related to the very idea of a “RoboCop” in the original 1987 film, but he placed a significantly greater focus on social commentary concerning the post-modern mindset (ex. how people value organic life in comparison to manufactured goods or technology). Most people would agree that Verhoeven managed to do that quite well – and within the context of an often violent and action-packed sci-fi thriller, at that.

However, it does sound like Padilha is more interested in the philosophical issues that Verhoeven’s RoboCop did not tackle so head-on, largely because they are (as he has pointed out) even more relevant today than they were over two decades ago. Honestly, if there’s any approach that could both ensure that the RoboCop reboot does not stray too far from the franchise’s classic themes – and also manages to also avoid feeling like an “update” that doesn’t really bring anything new to the table – that’s probably it. If nothing else, it’s reason enough for fans to at least give this project a shot, for the time being.

Now Padilha needs to assemble a worthy creative team (he says he already has a director of photography and production designer in mind) and find a decent leading man, in order to keep his RoboCop reboot moving in the right direction. Hiring an actor of Michael Fassbender‘s caliber would definitely be another wise decision on Padilha’s part – though, that particular casting is easier said than done, given the actor’s current popularity…


We will continue to keep you posted on the status of the RoboCop reboot as the story develops.

Source: Bleeding Cool (via Comic Book Movie)

TAGS: Robocop
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  1. Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Tom Hardy, or Henry Cavill are my picks for the new Murphy. Bryce Dallas Howard, Christina Hendricks or Mary Elizabeth Winstead for Officer Anne Lewis

  2. My pick is Guy Pearce. His face is somewhat familier to Peter Weller.

  3. who knows how this will turn out. i’m just mad red foreman won’t be in this. BITCHES LEAVE! hopefully that line will be in the movie

    • @ cjisuperman

      Lol. Yeah, good luck to the filmakers finding someone who could come close of filling Kurtwood Smith’s shoes as one of movie cinema’s best villains that ive seen. He was one of best things about the original film & his gang. Give The Man A Hand,lol.

      Another note is i can’t imagine them having a andriod better than ED-209.

    • EWWWW!!! GUNS GUNS GUNS!!!! Come on Sal! The Tigers are playing TONIGHT and I never miss a game!!!

  4. Robocop could kick Batman’s ass

  5. Michael fassbender as Robocop….awesome

  6. Yes but how much of the movie will focus on the actor and his dialogue rather than the actor just moving around and speaking in a monotone voice with the same seven lines.

  7. Yes I realize that speaking the same seven lines in a monotone voice is dialogue.
    I meant body language or something like that.

    I can’t think of the proper word, so somebody help me out.
    What’s the word actors use for acting without dialogue?

    • i think it’s called mime

  8. I can not believe this at all, they are going to focus on internal issues and make this into a serious movie?? Unreal! And I agree with all of the above posts, Kurtwood Smith, Ronny Cox, Peter Weller and others made this movie – it was all ‘tounge in cheek’and not so serious. They will never recapture the feel of the time (1987) and how this movie was pretty relavent to the time with all of the other movies released around that time. I am sure they will make this into yet another horrible Marvel cross Twilight clone and that will be a very sad day.

    • I think it was serious, but in a satirical, dark humor fashion.

      I hope this reboot/remake/whatever the suits want to call it retains the theme of corporate greed and exploitation and doesn’t just pay it lip service.

      Given how controlling and greedy real-life corporations are these days and how they try to limit or outright ignore anything negative about corporations in their media outlets, I would be surprised if this new Robocop retained the social criticism and satire directed at corporations, corporate media and their corrupt, exploitative ways.

  9. They should cast the automaton from Hugo.

  10. I still don’t get it, why does Hollywood need to remake good movies?

    If any movie needs remaking it’s definitely the stinkers out there.

    That said, I won’t be seeing Robocop 2.0, y’all enjoy, but most likely not.

    • @ Dante

      Im glad someone else feels the sameway as i do. Im sure there’s plenty of bad films they could reboot instead of good ones. There’s like only two films id consider seeing mordern versions of. But anyways, i may not see the Robocop reboot. Depending on all what becomes of it. I already know it won’t live up to how great the 80′s original was.

      • Here here.

  11. After Superman & before Batman – RoboCop was the best superhero movie – way ahead of it’s time when doing the dark gritty theme. Glad it’s being brought back.

  12. I think Jefferey Donovan would be perfect for the role. As for the Anne Lewis character that will be a bit tricky because you want an actress to be able to pull of the tomboy look much like Nancy Allen did. I know its a remake but I think that the director should stick with some of the basics that made the original film so successful. But that’s just my opinion.

  13. I have written a movie synopsis on a Robocop Reboot..I love the concept of man being turned into another government controlled technology device or should I say war weapon. The path I took in creating my own vision of the iconic Robocop character is a different one, it’s more dark, gritty and has drug addiction involved within the Robocop character. It shows an inner struggle as well as what pharmaceutical drugs can do to an honest man with underlying self-issues. I picture it with the darkness of James O’Barr’s ” The Crow”. He would actually be great with help writing for the film, he can capture the essence of the in’s and out of Detroit like he did with Brandon Lee in ” The Crow”. I would like to work on this film or just give my input on the subject matter. As for the lead role of the mechanical law enforcer, Michael Fassbender and Tom Hardy can tackle the role.

    • seriously, what ever happened to a film being fun and mega violent?? Why are the words dark, gritty and serious always being thrown around?? A man that’s killed, brought back to life in the for of a cyborg to bring revenge against the gang responsible whilst fighting normal crime – that’s what we should see, not a cyborg on a psychiatrists sofa at 200 bucks an hour explaining how he needs a ‘fix’ of drugs and misses his family for 2 hours!! I for one hope they have as much fun making this one as robocop 1 was to watch. One of the best movies ever made.

  14. I agree with you Chris. I’m not talking about a
    ” InTreatment” or “Private Practice” type Robocop with a drug therapist..he will be addicted to a govt serum that unleashes his anger and violence towards the corporate killers that ended lives of many in society. In the original Robocop, drugs were involved. I just threw a modern spin that eventually leads Murphy/Robocop to attack and destroy a Crimelord/Kingpin that secretly funds the pharamacuetical companies. So the story ties together. Of course you will have Robocop doing his duty to destroy scum at all costs..I used the terms dark and gritty as a vague description to set a tone. Whatever wordplay you would like to use to describe a raw, violent action thriller with an underlying darkness..go ahead. I like my spin on the iconic robotic!!! But thanks for the honesty!!!

    • no worries trude, it seems that Hollywood is extracting the fun out of movies these days that all I was getting at. All of the arnie, Stallone, willis etc films of the late 80s and early 90s had no real deep characters they were just endearing. Usually a family member getting kidnapped or fighting against insurmountable odds but mindless fun. Now Hollywood takes almost 2 hours to display how ‘deep’ the lead is sacrificing the fun and more often making me hate the lead character because of these flaws. The drug idea is ok but I would rather see Murphy battle against the hallucinations of his life before ‘death’ and the gangs being out of control. No real focus on drugs, just all types of crime. Also, the drugs aspect was in robocop 2 and we all know how poor that was!! :)

  15. I understand you on the cheesy macho man type characters with no real persons beyond the typical stereotype. It made me want to look beyond the commercial /franchise approach of Robocop. I like the concept you spoke of. I wouldn’t say my version would ultimately focus on the drug aspect 100% but would address the addiction issue within modern society since it exists in a wide range of people’s lives. The gangs/thugs he would be up against I see ruthless like ” The Warriors” mixed with enemy encounters in film like
    ” The Book of Eli”. Of course included is the mind matter of once being human and now a hybrid cyborg and the struggles of being reborn & rebuilt to simply take out the ruthless renegades that create crime. Us all that contains a creative mind see things in various depictions and I fully respect anyones artistic and authentic opinions.

  16. I’m a little nervous here. Having seen the first one in the theatre when I was 13. I fell in love with the film. The darkness of it, the villains you love to hate. I hope they can pull this off, I really do. But who knows..I know the special effects will be great. It just seems like that’s all Hollywood focuses on nowadays. It needs to be a movie about the human struggle. Thats what made the first film such a classic.

  17. I will see the movie to see how it turns out. I hope they at least use the same gun as the originals. I mean come on. To quote the cop in the firing range in the first movie… “Look at that f****** gun!” Any other gun will ruin the movie, the new suit sucks but it won’t ruin the movie like using a different gun will.