Leave it to Neill Blomkamp to stir the pot the way he did a couple of days ago. While responding to a fan's tweet asking about who should play the new Robocop in Neill Blomkamp's planned direct sequel to the 1987 classic, currently titled Robocop Returns, the District 9 director had only one name in his heart: Peter Weller himself. Now while everyone is either foaming at the mouth to make this happen, or scratching their heads as to how, there's a clever solution that's been on ice for the last 30 years. As it turns out, the original concept for Robocop 2, written by series masterminds Ed Neumeier and Michael Miner, has just the ticket to making Weller the man who would play Alex Murphy again.
Back in the days of the original Robocop's success, Orion Pictures really wanted a sequel to help their then flagging studio. Enter Neumeier and Miner, drafted to craft what would eventually be called Robocop: The Corporate Wars. The script, according to an interview between the writers and the site Robocop Archives, eventually fell prey to an ill-timed writer's strike and the studio's want for an ASAP follow-up film. What sucks is, in that script, we see Alex Murphy seemingly bite the big one in the first couple of minutes, only to wake up decades later in the future. A future where OCP has run rampant, and the world needs Murphy to set things right once more.
The kicker is that initial draft from Ed Neumeier and Michael Miner is now the one that newly hired writer Justin Rhodes is currently re-writing for Neill Blomkamp's Robocop Returns. As it's no secret that Neumeier and Miner are looking to wipe out the sequels that were created after their original film (Halloween style), and with Blomkamp making a name for himself when it comes to sequels that override canon, one would think this story won't deviate too far from the original vision. Should this be the case, it's a perfect recipe for Peter Weller to come back to the fold. The story has the opportunity built in, with the blessing of the original minds behind the franchise's fate, and it even has some options when it comes to integrating Weller himself.
While the rationale in Robocop: The Corporate Wars' script calls for Alex Murphy to have been cryogenically frozen over these past years, there's still the possibility that Murphy will still have aged somewhat if this tactic remains in Robocop Returns. After all, cryo-stasis would be able to slow down the aging process, not kill it entirely. It's encouraging when you think about how Peter Weller looks pretty good at his age, which also helps ease into any of the strategies and alternatives that could be used to make his participation work to the best-case scenario. Should Neill Blomkamp feel the need to do some CGI touch-ups a la Marvel's Ant-Man films, that too is also an option.
Up until this point, it might have been difficult to even dream of putting Peter Weller into a new Robocop suit. But now with advanced mo-cap and CGI, it's totally plausible that this new script's revival of Alex Murphy can look like the 1988 Writer's Strike never happened. Robocop is a franchise that deserved way better in terms of its sequels, and while it's been a long, crazy road to Robocop Returns, it looks like the wait for a true sequel will have been worth it. While Ed Neumeier and Michael Miner did get to visit pieces of their sequel's story in the syndicated TV show, Robocop: The Series, Neill Blomkamp's Robocop Returns is the best hope for revisiting the concept with the biting satire and hardcore action of the original Paul Verhoeven film. And thanks to the technological advances of today, as well as some real-time aging on Peter Weller's behalf, the story's big jump into the future will be as authentic as humanly possible.
You can read more about the original, unused concept for Robocop: The Corporate Wars over at the Robocop Archives' site, and you can even see the original draft for the film's story for yourself.