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Who would have guessed when Peter Weller finally put on the Robocop suit back in 1987 that this laughably satirical script with an unknown leading man would ever amount to anything? Robocop eventually became one of the most beloved science fiction films of all time, cementing Paul Verhoeven’s status as one of the genre’s great satirists and establishing the character as a minor cottage industry of success.
Now that we have a radical new vision for the character in theaters with a $130 million remake, it’s time to look back and realize, "Hey: this is a really strange franchise." MGM and Sony want to restart the film series as an exciting cross-genre blockbuster, but the fact is Detroit’s metallic gunslinger has been pretty well-traveled. Here are six places we did not expect to find the very R-rated hero, but did.
In The Wrestling RingWCW fans knew that the wrestler Sting had an ongoing rivalry with Ric Flair. And when Flair’s Four Horsemen challenged Sting in a pay-per-view event called Capitol Combat, there was only guy Sting could call on for backup. The ensuing affair, part of the promotional cycle for Robocop 2, is not a highlight of a sport that is nonetheless beset by all sorts of janky promotional strategies.
In KoreaHoly cow, in Korea they eat fried chicken just like us! And, holy cow, they eat it with Robocop, just like us! Wait, do you mean to say OCP’s top law enforcement agent DOESN’T jump out of televisions to eat with you while the music from Back To The Future 3 plays? Wow, you must be eating some shitty chicken. Gotta say, it’s disappointing that this clip breaks so hard from continuity, because Robocop would never just flat-out steal a fridge like that. It’s super rude.
As A CartoonWhen you think Robocop, you think bloody, nasty ultraviolence. You think of Alex Murphy’s body parts strewn about, you think of one of Boddicker’s goons turned into a mutant slimeball, you think of squibs, you think of guns, guns, guns (c’mon Sal, the Tigers are playing to-night, I never miss a game!). What you don’t think is that ol’ Robo is in any way kid-friendly. And yet… in 1988, executives who clearly hadn’t seen the movie gave the go-ahead to Marvel to produce an animated Robocop program. Sticking to the events of the film, the 12 episodes featured Robo cleaning up the streets of Detroit, fighting bad guys that included Clarence Boddicker and his associates, miraculously resurrected from the first film.
Stunningly, they didn’t stop there. In 1998, after three Robocop films, they tried again with Robocop: Alpha Commando. Occurring even further in the future, this series produced forty episodes of a new, upgraded Robo essentially offered to be a laser-shooting version of Inspector Gadget. The show, a Canadian production much like the live-action Robocop television series and the miniseries Prime Directives, never lasted past that one season, though apparently it is available to stream on Hulu. You just clicked away to watch, didn’t you?
In Comic BooksCreated for the screen by Ed Neumeier and Michael Miner (who also snagged a screenwriting credit for the new film), the character had no actual comic book roots. But the idea of a robot cop employed by a multinational corporation certainly sounds comic book-y enough, as Marvel found out when they purchases the property to publish adventures of the chrome-suited hero in 1990. While not associated with the other characters that populate the superhero universe, Robocop enjoyed his own missions in future Detroit tinged with superheroic flair.
When Dark Horse purchased the comic property, however, things got way more extreme. Frank Miller started things off with a matchup of Robocop and The Terminator, where Robo was apparently the first building block towards Skynet’s eventual world domination. A few miniseries’ later, Avatar Press got Robocop fever and produced adaptations of the unusued material from Frank Miller’s scripts for Robocop 2 and Robocop 3. Since then, the property has bounced to several other publishers, with BOOM! currently working on publishing a series of comics tying into the new film.
On The Actual Streets of DetroitIn 2011, the city of Detroit could not find the heart to back an expensive Robocop statue to be assembled by Imagination Station. But Kickstarter came to the rescue, and 2178 people contributed over $67,000 (over the $50,000 goal) to make the statue a reality. And now, finally, the project is nearing completion, allowing the beloved visored hero to actually watch over the city he protects. Currently, the material is foam, and will have to be cast into bronze. The plan is to have the ten foot statue up in the fall, though a location has not yet been set. The OCP headquarters lobby remains open.
Chilling With Richard NixonIn an unlikely marketing decision, the makers of the original Robocop decided one man was necessary to spread the promotional word of Alex Murphy: former President Richard Nixon. Nixon’s efforts were considerable enough that Nixon took down a hefty fee for the gig, turning around and donating the cash to the Boys Club Of America. As a result, a photo op was planned, one that united the fastest gun in the Detroit PD and President Nixon himself. Just like any Tom, Dick, or Jimmy Carter, Nixon seemed thrilled to be involved with this photo op. No word on what Nixon thought about Robocop 2, however.