Pacific Rim is only the latest movie to feature machines with humanlike hearts. From the real Paranoid Android to Bishop and HAL, these are the droids you’ve been looking for.
The new movie Pacific Rim has brought robots bursting back into our collective consciousness like wanton property damage. Here, we look back on artificial actors of the past who will always grip our hearts with their cold, crushing robot hands. These are the 12 best robots in film.
First Appearance: Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery (1997)
Why we love them: The Fembots were designed as both alluring honey traps and dangerous weapons that would finally net a win for Dr. Evil against Austin Powers. Their introduction, accompanied by “These Boots Are Made for Walkin’,” encompasses how sultry and deadly this bevy of beauties could be. Even Austin’s wife, Vanessa, turns out to be one of them (somehow)! They come equipped with synchronization, guns, gas, and irresistible charm. Their only weakness is sexiness stronger than theirs.
First Appearance: Metropolis (1927)
Why We Love It: During a time when film was a relatively new medium, Metropolis was a sprawling vision of a futuristic society with a huge divide between rich and poor, where making robot replicas of real people was possible. A mad scientist creates Robot Maria in order to ruin the reputation of the real Maria, but as with most things produced by mad scientists, things quickly get out of hand. Robot Maria entices the men of Metropolis, which drives them into a frenzy of lust and murder and pushes the workers to riot. Robot Maria was one of the very first evil AIs in film and with her innocent doe-eyes she plunges Metropolis into complete chaos.
First Appearance: WALL-E (2008)
Why We Love It: From a robot the size of a planet to a robot smaller than an oven, No. 7 is WALL-E. WALL-E isn’t dangerous, malicious, or even really very helpful—unless there’s trash around that needs to be compacted. He’s dutiful and lonely until the Apple-inspired Eve comes into his life. This tiny robot captured hearts with his curiosity, innocence, perseverance—and his love for another little robot.
First Appearance: 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)
Why We Love It: A robot is defined as a machine that automatically performs complicated tasks. The HAL 9000 doesn’t have an independent body, but he is in control of the ship and all of its functions. He makes sure that the crew is kept alive and on schedule toward their mission. However, when he concludes that the crew is inefficient and a danger to the mission, he decides quite logically that it would be better for him to continue on alone. Like many on the list, he is exceedingly intelligent, but he differs in that he is literally the environment. He uses much more passive ways of ending the lives of the crew, usually though only his intellect. His soft, calm monotone never fluctuates, adding an extra creepy factor. HAL is devious and sneaky and tries lying, bargaining, and emotionally manipulating David Bowman, the last of the astronauts, while he disconnects him.
First Appearance: RoboCop (1987)
Why We Love It: Part robot, part cop, all awesome. He is the cyborg product of a murdered police officer and the latest in crime-fighting technology. RoboCop is a one-man arsenal, including a 9mm handgun, an arm cannon, a jetpack for flight, and a grenade launcher. It might be a little overkill for a police officer, but it makes for one very memorable robot.
First Appearance: Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope (1977)
Why We Love It: Lovable, useful, and sassy without saying a word, R2D2 is our No. 1. R2D2 and C3P0 were robots, of course, but maybe the reason they’ve got so much soul is the fact that they were inspired by the friendly thieves in Akira Kurosawa’s The Hidden Fortress. R2D2 can only communicate in beeps and whirring sounds, but the audience still gets a sense that he’s snarky and sarcastic, in comparison to the tight-laced C3P0. Throughout the Star Wars movies, he delivers vital information among characters, repairs the Millennium Falcon and C3P0, and helps pilot smaller ships. Interestingly, because R2D2 was present for the events of the prequels and never received a memory wipe, he is the only surviving character at the end of Return of the Jedi who knows the entire story of Star Wars. Never has a collection of metal pieces had such an impact on a universe.
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