Man versus Machine. It’s one of Sci-Fi’s most reliable tropes; the theme plays heavily on society’s fear that, in time, technology will surpass our humanity. But what about the idea of combining man and machine? Improving or repairing the human body with gears instead of stitches, with motherboards instead of a mother’s love?
There are, after all, cyborgs that already walk among us. War-torn soldiers are given prosthetic limbs capable of linking with neural pathways. Pacemakers help to regulate abnormal heart rhythms, changing millions of lives around the globe. But there is always room for improvement, and Hollywood usually finds a way to deliver it to the big screen.
With that in mind, this list will not include individuals with simple prosthetics, like a pacemaker or robotic foot. It will also leave out fan-favorites like the Terminator (and his buddies), as they are actually robots surrounded by living tissue, not enhanced humans. Unfortunately, synthetic humans will also get the axe – the Replicants from Bladerunner don’t qualify here, even though they hold a special place in our hearts.
Here are the 10 greatest Cyborgs in the history of cinema.
One of the most easily recognizable (and controversial) Cyborgs in Hollywood history, Robocop is a technological marvel; everything but his face, cerebrum, and cerebellum has been replaced with a firefight-ready body, complete with state-of-the-art armor and a hip-stored 9mm cannon.
The original 1987 Robocop has catapulted into cult-classic territory. Officer James Murphy – the rebuilt (and revamped) hero inside the legendary suit – delivers fantastic deadpan one-liners while blowing away waves of helpless bad guys. In short, it’s fantastic.
While these officers aren’t getting cybernetic enhancements, they are getting pretty sweet loadouts for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio.
The loss of two legs, a spleen, a bladder, thirty-plus feet of small intestine, and, um, certain reproductive parts would put most men in the grave. Dr. Arliss Loveless is not most men, and survives these grievous injuries. Putting along in a nifty team-powered wheel-chair, the man continues to perfect his plans for global domination, somehow managing to dress like a true gentleman every step of the way.
In a series of pure Wild West power moves, Loveless surrounds himself with a cohort of stunning (and lethal) female sidekicks, creates a whole bunch of steam-powered machines of war, and turns himself into a creepy mechanical spider. *Shivers* Quite unnecessary, really.
Wild Wild West might have been down-right AWFUL, but Dr. Loveless remains one of the better cyborgs in film.
Astronaut Steve Austin crashes an experimental space craft, barely surviving the catastrophe. He is rebuilt by the shadowy Office of Scientific Intelligence, reborn as a super-spy with a whole set of bionic limbs. His right arm, left eye, and both legs are replaced with cybernetic implants; these implants imbue him with superhuman speed and strength, basically transforming him into a Cyborg James Bond.
Everyone not living under a rock is familiar with Lee Majors and the iconic Six Million Dollar Man franchise. It’s a staple of Western television and one of the first shows to wow audiences with its use of slow motion scenes in combat. Plus, Majors kicked so much tail in the role that even Wahlberg wants a piece of the action.
“We can rebuild him. We have the technology. We can make him better than he was… Better…stronger…faster.” It still gets us every time!
Yikes, if ever there were a Cyborg that stole the hearts of a generation, it would be Number Six. Tricia Helfer plays the seductive yet menacing Cylon in Battlestar Galactica, and it’s quite possible that a large portion of the franchise’s success is due to her performance. She (and the rest of the new breed of Cylons) are flesh and blood, but with a digitalized DNA sequence that allows enhanced abilities and downloadable memories.
The Sci-Fi TV two-part movie (based loosely on the original 1960’s show) evolved into one television’s most popular science fiction series; over the course of four fantastic seasons, the show delved deeply into the meaning of humanity, blurring the line between man and machine with every plot twist and stunning new discovery.
Number Six = Bae.
Does the original Dark Lord really need an explanation? There’s not a single person breathing who would argue against the inclusion THE cybernetically-enhanced human whose iconic mask (and theme song) are pillars of all things Evil.
Vader was even bad-ass enough to survive through the God-awful origin story that the Star Wars prequels spun – that in itself is actually far more impressive than surviving a quick dip in a lava pit.