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Who Inspired RoboCop?

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RoboCop is a 1987 American science fiction action film directed by Paul Verhoeven and written by Edward Neumeier and Michael Miner. The film stars Peter Weller, Dan O'Herlihy, Kurtwood Smith, Nancy Allen, Miguel Ferrer, and Ronny Cox.
Creator(s): Paul Verhoeven, Edward Neumeier, Michael Miner
Type: Movies/TV/Stage
Genre(s): science fiction, action
Year Released: 1987

Edward Neumeier stated that he first got the idea of Robocop when he walked past a poster for Blade Runner. He asked his friend what the film was about and he replied saying, "It's about a cop hunting robots". This then sparked the idea for him about a robot cop.[1]

The character of RoboCop itself was inspired by British comic book hero Judge Dredd.[2]

The character of RoboCop was also inspired by the Marvel Comics superhero Rom. A ROM comic book appears on screen during the film's convenience store robbery. Another ROM comic appears in a flashback of Murphy's son.[3]

8 Man, a fictional manga and anime superhero created in 1963 by science fiction writer Kazumasa Hirai and manga artist Jiro Kuwata, was supposedly the inspiration for RoboCop.[4]

Taking influence from the first Tokusatsu Metal Hero "Uchuu Keiji Gavan (Space Sheriff Gavan)" from Toei, Rob, Paul Verhoeven, and Edward Neumeier came up with the concept of the suit being more of an outer shell, with only very little of the actor's actual face being visible. "It's meant to look very speedy and aerodynamic. All the lines are measured to go on a slant - forward, forward, forward! All the lines were geometric, and compliment every shape on the body from all angles,” Rob Bottin explained the basis of the design. “When Verhoeven came on the project he requested numerous design changes, additions to the suit which looked more like machine than man-like. I've never done so many conceptual drawings for a director in my entire life - changing it, and changing it, and changing it!"[5]

In one scene, Emil attempts to drive RoboCop off the road, but instead accidentally drives into a vat of toxic waste, causing the flesh to melt off his face and hands. These effects were conceived and designed by Rob Bottin, the special makeup effects artist who worked on RoboCop. Bottin was inspired by Rick Baker's work on The Incredible Melting Man, and dubbed the RoboCop effects "the Melting Man" as an homage to the production.[6]

Director Paul Verhoeven, known for his heavy use of Christian symbolism, states in the documentary "Flesh and Steel: The Making of RoboCop" (featured on the RoboCop DVD) that his intention was to portray RoboCop as a Christ figure. This is represented in Murphy's horrific death, his return as RoboCop, and the scene at the steel mill where RoboCop is seen walking ankle-deep in water, creating the illusion of him walking on water. On that note, Verhoeven was asked by a fan whether the showdown with Dick Jones was intended as a representation of Satan (Jones)'s rebelling against Jehovah (the OCP president), or the Devil's subsequent fall from grace (being fired on the spot, and then blown backwards through the window of the OCP tower to his death). Verhoeven replied, "It's a sharp observation, but none of that was on my mind at the time."[7]

Darian Leader considers RoboCop one example of how the cinema has dealt with the problem of masculinity, showing us that to be a man requires more than having the body of a man: something symbolic that is not ultimately human must be added. He sees RoboCop as similar to The Terminator in this respect.[8]

Darian Leader also sees RoboCop as similar to The Six Million Dollar Man. "The Robocop is a family man who is destroyed by thugs, then rebuilt as a robot by science. His son always insists, before the transformation, that his human father perform the gun spinning trick he sees on TV,” Leader wrote about RoboCop. “When the robot can finally do this properly, he is no longer just a male biological body: he is a body plus machinery, a body which includes within it the symbolic circuitry of science. Old heroes had bits of metal outside them (knights), but modern heroes have bits of metal inside them. To be a man today thus involves this kind of real incorporation of symbolic properties."[9]

In the scene where a scientist presents the ED-209, the name tag of the scientist is McNamara. This is a reference to Robert McNamara, the Secretary of Defense during the John F. Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson Administrations.[10]

The Marching Morons presents an inane radio game show, "Take It and Stick It," that uses the phrases, "Would you buy that for a quarter?" and "Would you buy it for a quarter?" as its signature. RoboCop (which presented a similarly cynical view of an over-commercialized future desensitized to violence) makes an allusion to the line, adjusted for inflation, as the catchphrase of a TV comedian ("I'd buy that for a dollar!").[11]

RoboCop’s Prime Directives, (“Serve the public trust”, “Protect the innocent”, and “Uphold the law”), have similarities to the “Three Laws of Robotics” in the short story "Runaround" by Isaac Asimov.[12]

When the character Dick Jones mocks Bob Morton, a portion of what he said, ".... the old story, the fight for love and glory," is a line from the song “As Time Goes By” by Herman Hupfeld.[13]

When the Robosuit had to be redesigned, movement coach Moni Yakim had Peter Weller studied the movements of Nikolai Cherkasov in the movie “Ivan the Terrible”.[14]