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RoboCop loves to solve crimes, but can we solve the mysterious appeal of a man in a metal suit?

Unlike many people may think, RoboCop was never adapted from any graphic novel or other material. It was the brainchild of two new writers, Edward Neumeier and Michael Miner, who would go on to do pretty much nothing else, with the exception of Neumeier’s adaptation of the novel Starship Troopers to a film of the same name.

Paul Verhoeven directed the first RoboCop in 1987, with it grossing $53 million in the U.S. alone – four times its budget. It was nominated for two Oscars in 1988 for Best Sound and Best Film Editing, and was generally praised as an action film that ironically didn’t come off a factory assembly line. The logically named RoboCop 2 followed in in 1990, this time directed by Irvin Kershner, and did similar box office figures with no major award nominations. RoboCop 3 hit cinemas in 1993, directed by Fred Dekker, and was the first of the series to be given a 15 rating instead of the usual 18 certificate. It took half its budget (total U.S. gross was a measly $10 million), and that insured the franchise’s momentum was dead in the water. Twenty seven years after the original debuted, the remake, RoboCop, was unleashed to audiences and only time will tell of its success.

The films differ hugely, with the first and second films being shady crime thrillers with a dark use of humour. Action scenes in both films have grotesque endings with limbs being separated from bodies and even a decapitation occurring during the first film. These make the farfetched protagonist, a slow walking metal cop, much more acceptable to watch, as he means business and has had his body vividly blown apart. The third film is more of an ordinary but terrible action film and has the only other decapitations during the franchise, with 3, but these sum up the light hearted feel of the film perfectly, with Asian cyborg ninja’s being deployed only to see there heads being taken off with no real gore or impact. Although the film tries hard to convince us of it’s more easy-going approach, RoboCop, as a stern emotionless character, appears out of place in silly comedy scenes like riding in a pimped up Cadillac. The fourth film is a modern action thriller, and with a certificate 12a, it avoids any real gory aspects and focuses its time on developing big action scenes that are appropriate for a younger audience.

These action scenes during the newest 2014 instalment have a heavy reliance on RoboCop’s own abilities with only four people being killed by anyone but RoboCop, and that’s before he’s even introduced. After that point, he goes on to rack up a kill count of 77, leaving everything in his wake, and with no bad people killing anyone the film ensures there are no real consequences for good people doing the right thing. In contrast, the first film and second films see RoboCop kill only 1 person per film, the main villain, with baddies killing 3 people in the first film and 17 in the second. This keeps in line with the dark atmosphere of the first two films and represents RoboCop at his most rigid and precautionary.

One of the biggest changes between the first three films and the newest version sees the introduction of Alex Murphy as a present emotional character throughout the story. In the previous movies Murphy had always been inherently lost to his more human emotions with only glimpses coming through occasionally, whereas the 2014 RoboCop sees him only in robot mode when his helmet is down otherwise he’s able to communicate and empathise almost as normal. This can be seen by his helmet being removed once per film during the first three films, and 9 times in the 2014 RoboCop; this is a major contribution to what the film can do, opening up an effective storyline between him and his family that was attempted, but dismally failed at, in the previous films.

RoboCop has had quite a journey, with almost every film approaching the core character quite differently. Despite RoboCop 3 being rather poor, the franchise has done well with different directors and writers each time to maintain interest from fans; we can only hope the new RoboCop gets enough of that interest from new and old fans to spur the continuation of the franchise once more.

What we learnt from...


RoboCop only smiles after an extremely satisfying kill
People who shoot RoboCop should instead spend that time running
Police officers with a traumatic past are ideal candidates to become a cyborg
Corporations will soon own everything including your police force, government and life
RoboCop may not have a better gun than you, but his body armour is a lot tougher
You can cut off RoboCop’s arms and legs all you want, but he’s like Lego: there’s always a way to put him back together
Don’t use a psychopath’s brain to control a deadly multi-million dollar weapon
If you mentor a kid they will ruthlessly take over the business one day
A woman can love a man no matter how robotic he becomes, but he will kill her for this
Don’t do drugs, kids!
Black is the new blue
Car bombs can lead to awesome cyborg upgrades
Don’t let your internal software take over your life
Seeing your head and lungs dangled in front of a mirror is definitely not a feel good moment
Don’t sign away your husband to a multi million dollar corporation before reading the small print
Scientists aren’t all bad, especially the ones that look like Gary Oldman
Michael Keaton looks surprisingly like Malcolm McDowell when he tries to be a menace
RoboCop looks totally kick-ass in black
As a policeman, always take bribes and never stand up for what you believe in, as most of the time you won’t become a super human