Skip to main content

RoboCop Reboot: The Return of Social Satire

RoboCop is one of the all time great Sci-fi creations. A reboot has been talked about for years and, as of writing this, it looks like it's back on again according to this report on Den of Geek, What to expect from the RoboCop reboot.

I think the time is right for a reboot as I'll explain further below along with my ideas for how it might be approached. First let's start with what inspired this post and some thoughts on the first three films.

RoboCop 1, 2 and 3

I recently purchased the RoboCop Trilogy as a three disk DVD set. I can't say I'm a huge RoboCop fan but I do remember the first movie being released in 1987 and it was considered quite ground breaking for its time. I'm a Sci-Fi fan with an interest in any movie about robots and cyborgs so I wanted to add RoboCop to my collection.

After watching all three films (I've only ever seen the first previously) it's easy to see why the three movies were being sold in the one DVD case for half the price of your average new release DVD. I'm not going to say movies two (1990) and three (1993) were appalling but only a hardcore fan would buy them as separate disks... and even then, they'd probably have to include some compelling special features.

The original movie was considered a master piece and, what made it great from a story point of view, is exactly what enticed director, Paul Verhoeven, to take another look at a script that he thought was just some popcorn action flick. The multiple layers that give the film some intelligence and depth.

People say that RoboCop, at its heart, is an action movie. Personally I don't think it is. At its heart it is a human tragedy, layered with some very biting social satirical commentary. Paul Verhoeven saw RoboCop as a Jesus-like figure. A good cop resurrected. In some respects I can see it but this cop was resurrected without any say in the matter, resulting in a conflicted cyborg wondering about who he used to be.

That's not to say the action isn't important. One trademark of the original films is the over the top, graphic violence and destruction. However I think it serves more to enhance the dark comedy and take it to a whole new level. It's no so much laugh out loud it's more so far beyond reality you can't help but laugh.

But getting back to the human aspect and social satire. Although they tried to maintain this in the two successive films it never really had as much impact in RoboCop's story arc. To me it seemed more like a 'yeah we've dealt with those elements, now lets get back to the action'. Where as in the first film Robo's human side was much more integral to the action and the satire really was crucial to understanding many of the supporting characters motivations.

You've got to have those layers dealt with equally to make a RoboCop film work. It's the human aspect that makes us care about RoboCop, it's the satire that reflects life and adds intelligence and it's the action that makes it a 'Hell Yeah!' experience.

Time for a Reboot

Edward Neumeier, one of the first film's original writers, explains on the DVD's special features that the corporate world depicted in RoboCop is very much satire for the Wall Street high fliers and Company Executives of the nineteen eighties taken to the extreme of them actually killing each other.

In 2011 corporate success and excess has taken on a whole new meaning with technology companies like Apple driving consumer product demand to an almost ridiculous frenzy. Are we not now living in the world of Omni Consumer Products (OCP - the fictional developers of RoboCop)?

ED-209
What about 'The War on Terror'. OCP was originally all about selling the ED-209 to the Military. However more to the point the War on Terror is also about protecting the homeland public from urban extremists. As one of the most successful abstract wars of all time, bringing in an erosion of civil liberties and a culture of almost extreme patriotism this is territory ripe for RoboCop's dark satire.

Finally more and more countries are attempting to give their police and the law in general more powers to police things that police have no business policing. For example, in my own state of South Australia, the anti-association laws that would have empowered police to prevent members of bikie gangs from even meeting up - for any reason. Surely there's some great social commentary to be had about Police states and what is considered to be 'real crime'?

What I'd like to see for a Reboot


Note that this is my personal opinion of what I'd like to see happen with a reboot. I'm sure, if you are a fan you have your own ideas too. You may even like to read some of the Den of Geek's ideas in their article, What we'd like to see in the RoboCop Reboot.

First up, do not change the suit. Get the original or make a copy of the RoboCop 1 suit. I'd almost go so far as to say keep it all real with no CGI but after Ironman, I wouldn't mind a little CGI if it brings in bigger action. However if an actor can do the scene, get someone as good as Peter Weller was in the role and use the actor first. (oh and use a more human voice like films 1 and 2. I don't know what was with that robotic voice used in 3?).

I say keep the suit and use an actor because we really don't need a more nimble CGI RoboCop. RoboCop was originally kick-ass because he could just walk into danger and blow its head off with that targeting computer and gun of his. Granted he got shot up quite a bit in films 2 and 3 but that didn't seem to deter him from getting up and just walking in all over again.

Next, let's not deny the key events of the first three films (but lets conveniently forget those robot ninja warriors in RoboCop 3 - thanks Frank Miller but not every idea you have is gold). We've got a very solid origin story, a well established and geniously flawed central character in RoboCop and a failed corporation in OCP that destroyed its self from the inside with corrupt management and failed business ventures.

Let's take all that and literally reboot RoboCop himself, twenty years after his funding from OCP ran out, into today's world. Why? Because even in today's world RoboCop is still ahead of his time. He personally hasn't dated even if the fashions and hairstyles of his films have.

I'd love to see a modern consumer company buy out OCP's Intellectual Properties for the rights to their flagship products, RoboCop, RoboCop 2 and ED-209 for further development and to once again privatize law enforcement focusing on the War on Terror as a public safety issue. 

To kick start the buy out the new company would relaunch OCP's only successful prototype RoboCop but secretly may have some concerns about his past renegade exploits. i.e. RoboCop will still be a walk straight  into the villain's hide out and deal with the consequences as they arise kind of guy - and perhaps he's still dealing with his former life issues pre-RoboCop that made him hiccup on those directives from time to time.

Rather than go over old ground with RoboCop's memory why not give him the new problem of attempting resolve his human side. The first film demonstrated his memory did affect his sense of identity. Is sitting in a chair during his down time really satisfying for his human side or does he need to find an outlet to remain balanced and reliable. Even if they can erase his memories he still has a human brain. It must do something that programming can't.

As mentioned, the War on Terror gives plenty of opportunity for all kind of extremist enemies, though I wouldn't like to see the obvious enemy of Islamic Extremists. I'm sure we can do better than that? What about patriot extremists or corrupt government agents, corporations etc. using the War on Terror for profit. Conspiracy theories even?

How about a rival robotics company building their own RoboCops with all the success (or lack of it) of the ED-209 or RoboCop 2 (if you really must have a machine vs machine battle that's one way to go).

I think I'm starting to ramble so finally, I would like to see elements of the first film maintained to tell the story. POV shots from RoboCop, News desk reports, satirical commercials, extreme violence and graphic, over the top injuries etc. Things that are really trademarks for how a RoboCop story unfolds. Not there for the sake of it but there to drive the plot just a little bit more.

You're not a fan if you don't want another film

The one thing I don't buy is all the rhetoric that some fans don't want to see another film. Sure they don't want to see another bad film but if you have a favorite character that's suited to a series of films then a new film will always be of interest.

Hopefully the studios have made enough mistakes with RoboCop to know what doesn't work and deliver a solid film that will set the direction for a real franchise reboot.

Buy Gifts and Apparel featuring art by TET.

Popular posts from this blog

How to Transfer Any Line Art to Your Griptape - Easy Skateboard Griptape Art Tutorial

Dog Star Griptape Art by TET Griptape art is once again gaining popularity amongst modern skateboarders. For those of us who have tried to create our own griptape art, using paint pens, you'll know reproducing your design onto the grip, without making any mistakes is incredibly challenging. Mostly because you just have to go for it and draw the design freehand, with paint pens, directly onto the griptape. You can make the odd mistake here or there but if you get the proportions of the design completely wrong, it can be very difficult to fix. Often you just have to live with the mistake. To address the problem I've come up with an easy way anyone can transfer a line art design to their griptape, removing almost all the anxiety of getting the proportions wrong. In fact, you could do this with any line art design, even if you have no drawing skill at all. Watch the video below to see my technique in action and/or skip past the video where I highlight the basic steps to get your de

Man Eating Koalas Right Where I Live!

Not the actual Koala. When I take our dogs for a walk it's not enough that I have to watch out for snakes, lizards, prickles and other over enthusiastic dogs but now I also have to watch out for man eating koalas too! Well alright more like woman biting koalas but this happened right in the suburb where I live, and possibly where I walk my own dogs. Who would ever suspect a largely vegan koala would go rogue for a pound of leg flesh!

Skateboard Trick Tips: Two Ways to Ollie North (Ollie One foot)

You have to be quick to see my Ollie Norths! Ollie One Foots, otherwise known as the Ollie North, is one of those skateboard tricks you learn and then tend not to do very much as more interesting trick challenges grab your attention. However it does look really cool if you learn how to kick your front foot well past the nose of your skateboard. Still shot from Braille Skateboarding's Ollie North tutorial. I was inspired to make my video below, showing two different techniques to achieve a successful Ollie One Foot, when I not only saw that Braille Skateboarding's Tutorial used a different method to the one I had learned but also, when I looked at various other video tutorials, I discovered yet another technique, with no one using the method I had originally learned. Braille's method is to simply Ollie and drag your front foot past the front of your board. The second method I came across in several video tutorials is to Ollie, drag your front foot and tap your

Some Firsts I Could Have Done Without - What a Way to Finish Christmas!

I'm fine now, but earlier... Like most people, our extended family of relatives is fairly spread out across various locations, so getting everyone together at Christmas is often a small miracle. This year, the Adelaide clan, consisting of two vehicles, ours, with myself, my partner (Enigma), three grand kids, and our dog, Oscar, did a two and a half(ish) hour drive north, from Gawler to Port Pirie, South Australia, three days after Christmas, for a family gathering in a Church Hall hosted by Enigma's mother.  The rest of the family made a similarly long trip south from the very Aussie named town of Bruce. All this is just to set the scene for this guy... me. All I was hoping for, aside from a great Christmas family get together, was to make it through to the end of this day without getting sick. By that I mean, Enigma and I had just come off a two to three week, hellish run of coughing and sinus issues, and were well on the mend in the week up to Christmas. I just didn't wa

Movie Review: Avatar 2 - The Way of Water (2022) *Spoiler Free*

To be honest I didn't think, after so many years, a second Avatar movie would have anywhere near the success of the first film. However, at the time of writing this review, Avatar 2 - The Way of Water had already made a billion dollars at the box office in just 12 days. As much as the first film has become a little bit of a joke - mostly just for how long it has taken to get a sequel - people did enjoy that movie and Avatar 2, I feel, is a better experience. It's easily of the same quality visually but also, there's more story and characters to invest in. Not to mention the additional world building. Avatar 2 picks up several years after the first movie. Jake Sully now has a young family on Pandora who he is forced to protect when a familiar threat returns to the extrasolar moon. While the broad themes and plot are not that different from the first movie, within that there are interesting sub stories of family, fathers, being different, and revenge. All of which is balance

Course Review: Passive Income for Graphic Designers - Sell Your Designs, Graphics, Fonts & More

Passive Income is that somewhat elusive idea of earning a living even while you're sleeping. Often considered a 'scam' term used by charismatic marketers to sell you a dream of instant riches asterixed with, in very tiny print "results may vary". Passive Income Course for Graphic Designers is a Udemy course by Skybox Creative (a.k.a. designer, Angelina Samadhi) that guides you through the actual work you need to do (a point that is often glossed over by those charismatic marketers) to create a passive income business selling digital art and design products online. Note that I am an Udemy Affiliate and links within this article to the course are affiliate links. You don't have to use them but it does help keep this site free. Having said that, Passive Income for Graphic Designers is a course I have completed in full, not simply to write a review, but to actually learn from Angelina's experience... because I'm definitely not earning a living from affil

Movie Review: A Man Called Otto (2023) *No Spoilers*

In the tradition of grumpy old man learns a bit of compassion or gains a new lease on life films comes A Man Called Otto with Tom Hanks in the titular role. Based on an internationally best selling book, after the death of his wife, Otto lives alone on a housing estate complex where he's somewhat taken on the role of unofficial rule enforcer and resident grumpy old man. A few of the longer term residents seem to tolerate his grouchiness having known both him and his wife in better times. Now he's living his life with one foot in the grave until the arrival of his new neighbors, a young family, that draw him into their world. Otto is the kind of grumpy most people can relate to. His beef is with life, fools, people who don't follow the rules, and anyone that drives the wrong brand of car (which is about as political as this film gets). Unsurprisingly Tom Hanks is very good at playing 'grumpy' even if I wouldn't class his Otto as 'the grumpiest man in Americ