RoboCop (franchise)

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The RoboCop franchise is an American cyberpunk media franchise featuring the futuristic adventures of Alex Murphy, a Detroit, Michigan police officer, mortally wounded in the line of duty who is converted into a powerful cyborg brand named Robocop at the behest of a powerful mega-corporation, Omni Consumer Products. Thus equipped, Murphy battles both violent crime in a severely decayed city and the blatantly corrupt machinations within OCP.

The franchise began in 1987 with the film RoboCop. RoboCop 2, followed in 1990 and RoboCop 3 in 1993. There have also been various television series, video game and comic book tie-ins. The franchise has made over US$100 million worldwide and a fourth installment, serving as a continuity reboot, was released in February 2014.

Films[edit]

RoboCop (1987)[edit]

RoboCop is a 1987 American science fiction action film directed by Paul Verhoeven. Set in a crime-ridden Detroit, Michigan in the near future, RoboCop centers on a police officer who is brutally murdered and subsequently re-created as a super-human cyborg known as "RoboCop". The film features Peter Weller, Dan O'Herlihy, Kurtwood Smith, Nancy Allen, Miguel Ferrer, and Ronny Cox.

In addition to being an action film, RoboCop includes larger themes regarding the media, resurrection, gentrification, corruption, privatization, capitalism, masculinity, and human nature. It received positive reviews and was cited as one of the best films of 1987, spawning a large franchise, including merchandise, two sequels, a television series, two animated TV series, and a television mini-series, video games and a number of comic book adaptations/crossovers. The film was produced for a relatively modest $13 million.[1]

RoboCop 2 (1990)[edit]

RoboCop 2 is a 1990 science fiction action film directed by Irvin Kershner and starring Peter Weller, Nancy Allen, Dan O'Herlihy, Belinda Bauer, Tom Noonan and Gabriel Damon. Set in the near future in a dystopian metropolitan Detroit, Michigan. It is the sequel to the 1987 film RoboCop.[2]

The film received mixed reviews from critics.[3]

It was the last film directed by Irvin Kershner.

RoboCop 3 (1993)[edit]

RoboCop 3 is a science fiction action film, released in 1993, set in the near future in a dystopian metropolitan Detroit, Michigan, and filmed in Atlanta, Georgia. Most of the buildings seen in the film were slated for demolition to make way for facilities for the 1996 Olympics. Nancy Allen as Anne Lewis, Robert DoQui as Sgt. Warren Reed, Felton Perry as Donald Johnson, Mario Machado as Newscaster Casey Wong and Angie Bolling as Ellen Murphy are the only cast members to appear in all three films. Robert John Burke replaces Peter Weller as RoboCop.

The film received very negative reviews from critics.[4]

This is the first film in the RoboCop franchise to be rated PG-13.

RoboCop (2014)[edit]

A remake of the original film and a reboot of the franchise is set for release in 2014. The film is directed by Brazilian filmmaker José Padilha and will star Joel Kinnaman in the title role, with Gary Oldman and Samuel L. Jackson co-starring in supporting roles. According to Kinnaman, the film will be a reimagination of the original story, with bits and pieces catering to fans of the original film.[5] In July 2012, a viral website for the fictional OmniCorp was opened to promote the film.[6] Two months later in September, MGM and Columbia Pictures released the official film plot:

In ‘RoboCop’, the year is 2028 and multinational conglomerate OmniCorp is at the center of robot technology. Their drones are winning wars around the globe and now they want to bring this technology to the home front. Alex Murphy (Kinnaman) is a loving husband, father and good cop doing his best to stem the tide of crime and corruption in Detroit. After he is critically injured in the line of duty, OmniCorp utilizes their remarkable science of robotics to save Alex’s life. He returns to the streets of his beloved city with amazing new abilities, but with issues a regular man has never had to face before.

This is the second film in the franchise to be rated PG-13.

Television series[edit]

Live-action[edit]

RoboCop: The Series[edit]

RoboCop appears in RoboCop: The Series played by Richard Eden. The series takes place between the original film and Robocop 2, Murphy's mother and father were introduced. His father, Russell Murphy, was a devout police officer himself for many years until his retirement. He is responsible for instilling Murphy with his trademark sense of duty and dedication to law enforcement, even after his transformation into a cyborg. Throughout the series, Murphy finds himself teamed up with his father on a few cases that often saw them utilizing the elder Murphy's expertise in dealing with reappearing criminals he'd chased back before his retirement. Although his father was stern, it was clear Murphy's parents loved and cherished him even after his 'demise.' However at the end of the episode Corporate raiders, Russell Murphy finds out that it's his son under the RoboCop enhancements. Ellen (known as Nancy in the series for apparent copyright reasons) and Jimmy Murphy were recurring characters as well, often finding themselves crossing paths with Murphy by falling in inadvertently or intentionally with the criminal element to which Murphy interfered and protected them from harm. Despite his series partner Madigan's concerns to tell his family who he is, Murphy replied firmly, "No," as he felt doing so would hurt them even more. He commented that "they need a husband... and a father. I cannot be that. But I can protect them."

RoboCop: Prime Directives[edit]

RoboCop appears in RoboCop: Prime Directives played by Page Fletcher. The series takes place ten years after RoboCop 3, RoboCop has become outdated, tired, and quasi-suicidal. Delta City (formerly Detroit) is now considered the safest place on Earth, and he is no longer viewed as particularly necessary. The first half of the series focuses on Alex Murphy's former partner, John T. Cable, who is slain by RoboCop due to his system being hacked and being programmed to terminate Cable. Cable is then resurrected as a cyborg in most aspects identical to the RoboCop model, save for color and the addition of a second sidearm. "RoboCable" is sent to destroy RoboCop, but after several battles, Cable is convinced to join Murphy. Meanwhile, OCP (on the verge of bankruptcy) is taken over by a scheming executive, Damian Lowe, who manages to murder the entire board of directors. To bring OCP back, he plans to use an artificial intelligence called SAINT to automate the entire city. The second half of the series introduces Dr. David Kaydick, who plans to introduce a “bio-tech” virus (Legion) to wipe out not only Delta City but all life on the planet, infecting computers and people alike. He takes control of RoboCable by planting a chip in him that causes him pain or death, at Kaydick's discretion. RoboCop receives aid from a group of tech thieves led by Ann R. Key (Leslie Hope), who are determined to stop Kaydick, and RoboCop's own son, James - now fully grown and aware of his father's fate. RoboCop and his rag-tag band race to stop Kaydick from infiltrating OCP tower and activating SAINT, which would presumably kill almost all humans. During the confrontation, RoboCop and James reconcile with each other, and manage to rekindle RoboCable's previous personality. Ann. R. Key and Kaydick both die during a confrontation with each other. Utilizing James's EMP device, and having shut down RoboCop, RoboCable and LEGION are terminated. RoboCop gets rebooted without his previous OCP restriction programming (as well as restoring his identity as "Alex Murphy" as opposed to an OCP product number) or his prime directives. After viewing a goodbye message left by Cable, Murphy returns to active duty to stop the resultant crime in Delta City due to the EMP pulse blacking out the city.

Animation[edit]

RoboCop: The Animated Series[edit]

Based on the original movie, the first RoboCop animated series features cyborg cop Alex Murphy (Robocop), who fights to save the city of Old Detroit from assorted rogue elements, and on occasion, fighting to reclaim aspects of his humanity and maintain his usefulness in the eyes of the "Old Man", Chairman of OCP. Many episodes see RoboCop's reputation put to the test or soured by interventions from Dr. McNamara, the creator of ED-260, the upgradable version of the Enforcement Droid Series 209 and the top competitor for the financial backing of OCP. He continually develops other mechanical menaces that threaten RoboCop. In the police force, RoboCop is befriended as always by Officer Anne Lewis, but is also picked on and lambasted by the prejudiced Lieutenant Roger Hedgecock (who appeared as a minor character in the original film and his first name revealed in Night of the Archer), ever determined to be rid of him and his kind, whom he sees as ticking time bombs. Their rivalry comes to a fever pitch during the episode "The Man in the Iron Suit", in which Hedgecock comes close to finally beating Murphy with the aid of a new weapons system developed by McNamara. He almost kills Lewis when she interferes, enraging Murphy into tearing Hedgecock's iron suit apart and nearly crushing his skull before Lewis emerges, alive and well. Robocop is maintained by Robocop Project director Dr. Tyler. He was voiced by Robert Bockstael.

RoboCop: Alpha Commando[edit]

RoboCop appears in RoboCop: Alpha Commando voiced by David Sobolov. The series is set in the year 2030 and follows on from the previous animated series. The series deals with RoboCop being reactivated after five years offline to assist a federal high-tech group, "Alpha Division" in their vigilance and struggle against DARC (Directorate for Anarchy, Revenge, and Chaos) a highly advanced terrorist organization and other forces of evil whenever that may be, globally or nationally. The series shared many of the same writers who had contributed to the 1980s animated series, but had even less in common with the movies or television canon that it was based on, including the first animated series. RoboCop now has numerous gadgets in his body that were never in the film, such as roller skates and a parachute. The show also suffers from major continuity errors. In the first episodes we see RoboCop's son in his memories flashback and he appears to be around 10. We later see his son in the series, to be exactly the same age and even wearing the same clothing, as his memories. The absence of Anne Lewis was never explained. Besides RoboCop himself, Sgt. Reed is the only character from the movies in the series. Unlike the movies, and previous TV incarnations, RoboCop never takes off his helmet in Alpha Commando.

Cast and characters[edit]

Character Films Live-action Television Animated Television
RoboCop
(1987)
RoboCop 2
(1990)
RoboCop 3
(1993)
RoboCop
(2014)
RoboCop: The Series
(1994)
RoboCop: Prime Directives
(2001)
RoboCop: The Animated Series
(1988)
RoboCop: Alpha Commando
(1998–99)
RoboCop Peter Weller Robert John Burke Joel Kinnaman Richard Eden Page Fletcher Dan Hennessey David Sobolov
Officer Anne Lewis Nancy Allen Yvette Nipar Susan Roman
Sergeant Warren Reed Robert DoQui Blu Mankuma   Blu Mankuma
Donald Johnson Felton Perry  
Casey Wong Mario Machado  
James Murphy Jason Levine Clinton Austin Shirley   John Paul Ruttan Peter Costigan Anthony Lemke  
Ellen Murphy Angie Bolling Abbie Cornish Jennifer Griffin  
The Old Man Dan O'Herlihy   David Gardner  
Bixby Snyder S.D. Nemeth   S.D. Nemeth  

Video games[edit]

Various licensed video games for various arcade and home console systems were released:

In 1990, Data East released a pinball machine based on the film.

Comic books[edit]

Various publishers have released RoboCop comic books:

Music[edit]

  • Montreal hard rock band Priestess' song from their 2009 album Prior to the Fire, "Murphy's Law," was written about the movie RoboCop, which is singer Mikey Hepner's favorite movie.[7]
  • Thrash Metal band Gama Bomb have a song entitled OCP, which features lyrics composed entirely of quotes from the first film.[8]
  • Massachusetts-based Thrash Metal group Lich King's album World Gone Dead features a track entitled ED-209, which includes dialogue from the first film.[9]
  • The 1988 UK Acid House compilation North - the Sound of the Dance Underground included the track Acid to Ecstasy by ED209, featuring samples from the first film.[10]
  • The rapper Silver Bullet released the track 20 Seconds to Comply in 1989 including samples of ED-209 from the first film.

Theme park ride[edit]

SimEx-iWerks (formerly iWerks Entertainment) opened RoboCop: The Ride around the world at its various iWerks Motion Simulator Theaters, amusement parks, and casinos in the winter of 1995. The "Turbo Ride," as it was dubbed, was a "ride simulation" which could accommodate between 20 and 30 riders depending on the size of the theater where synchronized hydraulically activated seats with an oversized screen displaying the projection, putting the audience right in the middle of the movie action. The ride focused on you partnering with RoboCop in where you and Robo would ride souped-up police motorcycles on a mission to save the mayor of Detroit from the clutches of the vicious Cyberpunk ROM and his gang of villains. In the latter part of the ride the bike would then convert into hover mode where you and Robo would fly through the skyline of New Detroit using rockets that jettisoned from the back sides of the motorcycle. Though not as impressive or technical-savvy as other iWerks attractions at the time, due to the enduring popularity of the character the ride was very popular amongst children and teenagers and especially in foreign markets outside of North America. The ride was a mixture of motion picture film and computer animation which lasted approximately 4:00 minutes, the cost in the United States was $5.00 to ride at pay-per-ride theaters. The ride was removed from the iWerks theaters in the North American market in 1998.[11]

Statue[edit]

In February 2011, there was a humorous ploy asking Detroit Mayor Dave Bing if there was to be a RoboCop statue in his 'New Detroit' proposal, which is planned to turn Detroit back into a prosperous city again. When the Mayor said there was no such plan, and word of this reached the internet, there were several fund-raising events to raise enough money for the statue which would be built at the Imagination Station. It is yet to be seen if a statue will actually be built, but it is reported that over $50,000 has already been raised on the internet.[12]

Recurring elements[edit]

Omni Consumer Products[edit]

Omni Consumer Products
Type Corporation and laboratory
Founder(s) The "Old Man"
Headquarters Detroit and Delta City, Michigan
Products Computers
Robotics
Cybernetics
Consumer products
Space exploration
Urban Pacification Tools
Military grade weaponry
Food products
Private government
RoboCop (1987)

Omni Consumer Products (OCP) is a fictional corporatocratic megacorporation in the RoboCop franchise. It creates products for virtually every consumer need, has entered into endeavors normally deemed non-profit, and even manufactured an entire city to be maintained exclusively by the corporation.[13][14] OCP is a modern example of the longstanding trope of the evil megacorporation in science fiction.[15][16]

OCP is depicted as a megacorporation with divisions affecting nearly every level of consumer need, society, and government. Their products range from consumer products to military weaponry and private space travel. Their projects included RoboCop, the ED-209, and the RoboCop 2 cyborg. OCP owns and operates a privatized Detroit Police Department and have been known to employ criminals to achieve their goals.[13]

OCP, throughout its depictions in the RoboCop films, has sought to fully privatize a dystopian Detroit, Michigan, into "Delta City", a manufactured municipality governed by a corporatocracy, with fully privatized services — such as police — and with residents exercising their representative citizenship through the purchase of shares of OCP stock. They also serve as part of the military–industrial complex; according to OCP executive Richard "Dick" Jones, "We practically are the military." Jones observes in RoboCop that OCP has "gambled in markets traditionally regarded as non-profit: hospitals, prisons, space exploration. I say good business is where you find it."[13]

In RoboCop 3, OCP is bought by a Japanese Zaibatsu, the Kanemitsu corporation. As a Kanemitsu subsidiary, OCP remains in charge of the destruction of old Detroit and the construction of Delta City. By the end of the movie, OCP's brutal policies concerning Delta City are brought to light, many of OCP's majority shareholders sell their stock, and OCP itself is forced into bankruptcy.[17]

By the time of RoboCop: Prime Directives, OCP is shown being manipulated by a brash young executive who, through murder and reallocation of resources, ascends to power to automate Delta City under a new artificial intelligence. This is manipulated by a cyberterrorist, who seeks the destruction of the human race through a virus that can be introduced to computers and human beings alike.[18]

RoboCop (2014)

For the 2014 remake, the corporation is a parent company of "OmniCorp", with the slogan "We've Got the Future Under Control."[6]

ED-209[edit]

ED-209
RoboCop character
ED-209 01.jpg
The ED-209 in RoboCop
First appearance RoboCop
Created by Ed Neumeier
Michael Miner
Voiced by Jon Davison
Information
Manufacturer Omni Consumer Products
RoboCop (1987)

The Enforcement Droid Series 209, or ED-209 (pronounced Ed Two O' Nine), is a fictional robot in the RoboCop franchise. The ED-209 serves as a heavily armed obstacle and foil for the series' titular character, as well as a source of comic relief due to its lack of intelligence and tendency towards clumsy malfunctions. For instance, during a boardroom demonstration by Dick Jones of ED-209's "disarm and arrest" procedure with a board executive named Kinney as the test subject, in which Kinney is given a pistol and told to point it at ED-209, ED-209 fails to recognize that Kinney has dropped his weapon and blasts him to death in over-the-top fashion with its automatic cannons. Later, it is shown that ED-209 cannot climb or descend stairs as it tumbles trying to chase RoboCop.

The ED-209 was designed by Craig Davies, who also built the full-size models, and animated by Phil Tippett, a veteran stop-motion animator. Davies and Tippett would go on to collaborate on many more projects. As one of the setpieces of the movie, the ED-209's look and animated sequences were under the close supervision of director Paul Verhoeven, who sometimes acted out the robot's movements himself.

The ED-209 is featured in every RoboCop major motion picture, while it is missing from the series’ direct-to-video releases and the television series (although an ED with a different model number is present).

RoboCop (2014)

In July 2012, a redesigned ED-209 was revealed in the OmniCorp viral website. The new ED-209 is slimmer in design and more heavily armed than the original version.[6]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Box Office Information for Robocop". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved March 21, 2012. 
  2. ^ Kershner, Irvin (1990-07-16). "RoboCop 2: Entertainment, Yes but Also a Hero for Our Times". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2010-10-13. 
  3. ^ "RoboCop 2". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 2010-08-17. 
  4. ^ "Robocop 3". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 2013-11-04. 
  5. ^ SVTPlay (swedish)
  6. ^ a b c Omnicorp - Home
  7. ^ "MEET THY MASTER - Priestess ' headbanging frontman lets all his hair down about his music and its movie". Nightlife Magazine. 2009-10-18. Retrieved 2009-10-20. 
  8. ^ "Gama Bomb - Citizen Brain". Encyclopaedia Metallum: The Metal Archives. Retrieved 2012-08-22. 
  9. ^ "Lich King - World Gone Dead". Encyclopaedia Metallum: The Metal Archives. Retrieved 2012-08-22. 
  10. ^ "Various – North - The Sound Of The Dance Underground". discogs.com. 
  11. ^ ROBOCOP THE RIDE RoboCop Archive
  12. ^ "RoboCop Statue". mlive.com. Retrieved Feb 18, 2011. 
  13. ^ a b c RoboCop (1987)
  14. ^ RoboCop 2 (1990)
  15. ^ '"Flesh and Steel: Making RoboCop on the 20th Anniversary RoboCop DVD
  16. ^ "Dr. Steven Best, PhD - Robocop: The Crisis of Subjectivity (1987)". Drstevebest.org. Retrieved 2009-04-17. 
  17. ^ RoboCop 3 (1993)
  18. ^ RoboCop: Prime Directives (2000)