Tag Archives: James Cameron

‘Robocop vs. Terminator’ – The Epic Crossover Film That Almost Happened!

The New Era of Mankind And The Machine

Welcome, my son! Welcome to the Machine – Pink Floyd

It was a little bit like a sudden lightning bolt breaking across a clear sky, both alarming and awe-inspiring. And there was certainly electricity in the air over a newly formed genre that featured things like chest bursting parasites, cyborg armies, men turning into machines, and creatures from other worlds turning the toughest hombres humanity has to offer into gruesome hunting trophies.

It was the age of dark and gritty sci-fi horror/action films and they were all the rage back during the ’80s and early ’90s. These movies had muscle and teeth.

via Terminator 2

Thanks to people like James Cameron (Aliens, Terminator 1 and 2) and action stars like Arnold Schwarzenegger (Conan the Barbarian, the Terminator movies, Predator) whose name alone sold tickets, we were given nothing short of a diesel fueled adrenaline punch to the teeth. And we absolutely loved it. We clapped our hands, shoved popcorn in our mouths, and begged for more!

And – according to our movies – machines were the future, as dismal or dystopian as that future may be. And leading the way (to mankind’s eventual downfall no doubt) were two cybernetic heavy weights, both begotten from the violence on our streets and the growing paranoia of The Bomb.

Both films showcased a strange new world to come, and they both quickly won over audiences across the globe . Those movies were Robocop and Terminator.

via Robocop. “Dead or alive you’re coming with me.”

Strangely enough the films did make a few accurate predictions seeing how today we are entirely dependent on software and machines to get through the day. Let the internet go down for a week and watch what wondrous chaos would ensue!

We may not have cyborg implants just yet, but, as fair example, our cell phones have become entirely an extension of our bodies. As Cronenberg coined the term, ‘long live the new flesh.’

And so our future was predicted in both films. We were all just too naïve to realize it.

Bringing both franchises together

“Role models can be very important to a boy.” – Robocop

Robocop was the long arm of the law while the Terminator was the rebel. One stormed down the riotous streets of Detroit in a cop car while the other thundered across L.A. on a mother fucking Harley!

It was Yin Yang! The two complimented one another like Batman and Joker. Both franchises were jarring glimpses into the future, and weren’t too far separated from one another. It would have been Metal against Metal, a fight for mankind’s future determined in the past. And not to mention both series had incredible soundtracks so could you imagine hearing both scores trumpeting out as these two guys fought? Seriously just gave myself goosebumps.

It just made sense! These two legacies had to crossover!

Goodness sake we had cartoons, action figures, and collectible cards! We wore T-shirts and debated who might win in a fight, Robocop or Terminator.

image via Dark Horse

There was just something ultimately cool about these two film franchises. In our heads, it was only a matter of time before we’d see the two fighting on the big screen.

And then came the biggest cock tease of the fandom. A 4-part comic book was released. Read it loud and say it proud, Robocop vs Terminator became a reality. We held it in our hands. And then the rumors started. They were going to make a movie about it.

Written by the legendary Frank Miller, oh yeah, THAT Frank Miller! The guy responsible for dark and gritty stuff like Sin City and the man who single-handily rescued the Batman comics from life support and made the series (and movies) what they are today. Not to mention he wrote my all-time absolute favorite comic book, The Dark Knight Returns. This guy wrote Robocop vs. Terminator!

image via Dark Horse comics

Our little minds were splattered all over the walls. We couldn’t contain ourselves. Our heads blew up with the excitement.

I’d Buy That For A Dollar

Answering the fundamental question – considering the end of T2 – how the hell has Skynet survived? Didn’t they destroy every trace possible and annihilate Cyberdine’s eventful future? And this comic does follow the events of T2, releasing nearly a whole year after the film. Fret not because we’re given a very interesting (and acceptable) answer. It’s actually really kickass how it plays out.

The story opens in the present meaning we’re right in the heat of war. The human resistance is nearly hammered into extinction but John Connor has an ace up his sleeve. Learning the secrets of Skynet’s survival the Resistance sends back a lone warrior, Florence Langer, into the past with a name to terminate. That name is Alex Murphy, Robocop himself.

In a sensational twist of events, the humans are sending back a human to terminate a machine. Well, a man with a machine heart but a human soul. And, you guessed it, to counterattack the Resistance’s strategy Skynet sends back a small group of Terminators to defend their forefather.

Yup, you read that right. And it’s only getting started so hang on.

Robocop has one helluva introduction here too. We’re given a POV perspective as he goes from psychotic rapist, murderer, and terrorist blowing them each away in bloody awe and wonder.

He then takes on a local dumbass with a bomb fastened to himself and threatening to waste everyone nearby. Robocop ain’t havening any of this guy’s stupid shit though and grabs the goon only to toss his meaty ass to the moon! The guy explodes up in the sky and Robocop walks away in a glorious shot that would have been a thrilling scene in a movie.

image via Dark Horse

Florence proves her skills as a soldier and builds a make-shift (close enough) plasma gun and hoses down Robocop with it. She’s stark raving mad at this point and blames him for ending the world. She holds him accountable for the death of billions of innocent lives. She’s accusing him of events that haven’t happened yet leaving Murphy in pain and confused.

Wait, let’s talk about Florence. She’s the last surviving soldier sent to infiltrate Skynet’s TDP headquarters. She goes back in time and lands in the busy city streets of Detroit – stark naked I might add. She entirely takes on what Joe Bob Brigg’s calls the ‘Shower Scene’ that promotes vulnerability. That vulnerability is immediately shot in the head though as Florence takes on gawkers and whips a cab driver’s gun out of his hand. Armed and dangerous she takes off to find her target.

image via Dark Horse

Had the movie been made I have to wonder who could have played this strong character.

Anyway, before she can complete her task she’s shot by the three Terminators who’ve been sent back to protect the mind that will awaken Skynet. Despite her attempt to kill him Murphy makes sure Florence gets to a hospital and saves her life. Really Robocop is such a cool hero here.

But that’s how the plot connects both franchises. Robocop is, in many ways, successful artificial intelligence or fusion of man and machine. The very thing Skynet will use to annihilate the human resistance.

image via Dark Horse

Making what John Connor is to humanity Robocop is to the machines. It leaves fans with more than just another ‘wow what a cool story’ but there’s some meat to this beast. There is substance and it’s something that stays with you.

Human life, after all, is about consistently fighting to survive. Machines are doing the same thing now and have their own savior to guide them to a very real future. And they are ready to make sacrifices to ensure their survival just as much as we are.

This also provides Robocop some depth. He does some soul searching to see if it could be possible and if he might have a role in this mysterious future slate. Tapping into some top-tier classified records he learns the plans for Cyberdine and begins learning that the ravings of his would-be assassin are not without reason.

It’s also revealed that Skynet’s future is dependent on Murphy’s brain. The future war is anchored in whether or not the Terminators can reach him before the Resistance has a chance to. So yes, unintentionally Robocop is the father of all Skynet and ensures Judgment Day.

That’s some heavy stuff. The kind only someone like Frank Miller can tell and it still make some sense.

We get to see Robocop take on and defeat two of the three Terminators, which is pretty epic considering how tough T-800s are. Florence escapes from her hospital bed and in total badass fashion destroys the third one.

That doesn’t mean it’s over. Not by a long shot. We’re still getting started and Skynet has more machines to send back to the past.

image via Dark Horse

Along with some breathtaking action we’re treated to some augmented timelines and Robocop dealing with harsh issues like destiny and free will. This article could be a whole review on the 4 issue story. But I’d rather not give away many spoilers because I’d hope our readers would want to go read this nuclear hot comic run for themselves.

But all I’ll say for now is Robocop gets an upgrade and there’s a Robocop army. Woo hoo!!!!

image via Dark Horse

So see how amazing this movie could have been? Just look at that above panel and imagine what that war could have looked like on screen.

It’s nothing short of criminal that we have those stupid Alien vs. Predator movies and not this one.

A series of video games were also released to help promote the idea of the movie. Both Robocop and Terminator have enjoyed their run of cool video games. I mean I loved that Robocop arcade game.

RvT became instantly popular and even for those who didn’t play the games they at least thought it was an infinitely cool idea. The best way to experience the game is the Sega Genesis version btw. It’s big, loud, and violent. Just like the music and movies we loved.

The ground was laid and fans were ready. This could have been the crossover to ensure endless success for our favorite cyborgs, Oh but shit interest in RvT is still going strong. MK11 (2020) introduced both Terminator and Robocop skins allowing fans to fulfill their RvT fantasy a little more.

image via Netherealm

And reminding us what we never got.

This would have been a very expensive project to undertake though. At the time it would have been astronomical to make the SFX match the grandeur required. Cameron got busy making Titanic and moved on to finally make his Avatar movie afterwards. Both were box office sensations but fans knew what they really wanted.

Instead of getting this epic crossover, we all know what happened. We were given Terminator 3 and Salvation and then two really fucking awful reboot attempts. Robocop was given a remake and it went tits up too.

Could they still make the movie? I suppose it could happen. It’s tough now because Dark Horse comics is now dead since the Mouse consumed Fox Studio. And Dark Horse published the RvT comics so how would that work now? All the same I’d like to see James Cameron get a bee in his crotch and decide the time was right to make this fantasy project come true.

Or, and don’t hate me, someone like Zack Snyder direct it and go balls to the wall nuts with it. Take the comic book and bring it to life. Maybe fans should take to Twitter and ready the hashtags. Fan power has made the impossible happen before.

In the meantime fans like me have NECA to thank for the amazing figures they’ve released. We can at least set our Robocop and Terminator on the shelf where the two will be forever locked in the battle we know in our hearts we still deserve to see.

The Genius Behind Cameron’s Original Terminator Films

August 4, 1997, marked a progressive singularity in world history as humanity is introduced to the future – Skynet. Skynet, the most sophisticated military defense program designed to protect us against enemy invasions, begins to learn at a geometric rate thus making human decisions over strategic defense obsolete. In short, the machine was learning how to think.

Our faith in our protectors was misplaced.

via Terminator 2

August 29, 1997, a day marked by infamy, Skynet becomes completely self-aware and takes over. Panicking, humanity tries to pull the plug, and acting upon its own sentience Skynet fights back. Launching nukes at strategic targets thus ensuring counterattacks, the world is quickly incinerated under the neon plume of a nuclear holocaust.

via Terminator 2

This date became known as Judgment Day.

Human beings fly apart like paper in the ensuing heat and millions of lives are washed away in the rolling inferno flowing across busy city streets.

Survivors of Judgement Day rose up from the ashes to face a dire new world entirely unrecognizable from what we all once called home. Major metropolitan societies were rendered to little more than cement husks tiled with human skulls scattered about ashen streets.

And into this dystopian landscape marched armies of Skynet’s lethal soldiers, machines with one goal in mind – the eradication of all human life.

via Terminator 2

The war for humanity’s survival was on.

The Ancient Future Past

This is the background to Jim Cameron’s (Aliens, The Abyss, Avatar) colossally successful (first two) Terminator films. I’ll go on record to say Terminator 2 has one of the best opening scenes of all time. One that unexpectedly crashes into our senses like a dump truck being rammed by an express train. It sets the tone for what is nothing short of a diesel fueled adrenaline rush of tense action.

We’re shown the mundane daily activity of a crawl-and-go highway down in L.A (and oh God have I sat in that enough times in my life). Children play at a park and people wait at crosswalks. It’s so average. That’s what makes it so haunting and permanent in our subconscious. Cameron shows us ourselves, caught in traffic, going to work or going shopping, or home. Of children’s innocence and parents’ naivety. No one was on edge and no one expected the nukes to fall. We are then immediately shown the ‘current’ world, a post Judgement Day planet.

Two stark contrasts of the same locations. However, one is pre-catastrophe and the other is post holocaust.

It all happens in a biblical sense, in the twinkling of an eye, or as a thief in the night, and no one was ready to face the end. It just happens.

via Terminator 2

Giving us the parallel of both these different worlds forced to inhabit the same planet engages us and we are shown how much we have to lose. For an action film, it pushes some poignant topics we should not take lightly.

Terminator 2: Judgment Day was my favorite movie growing up. It blew my little 11 year-old mind away. It is a metal powerhouse of rioting steel blasting apart cement walls, tipping over 18-wheelers, and face ripping brawls as two future machines battle for the fate of humanity. Back then I thought it was genius! And now, so many decades later, I’m still struck (right in the jaw) by how intensely brilliant it still is. T2 just works!

The Lore of Man’s Folly

I’ve been in a real Terminator kick lately. I just watched every single movie in the franchise and without bias, I can say all the movies suck after T2: Judgment Day. Ok you may think I’m being biased but I really wanted to like all the other films.

But let’s be honest. At the end of T2 they left no room for error. They won! They completely defeated Cyberdine, and thus, Skynet, from ever having a chance of existing. Without Skynet there would be no Terminators. So how the Hell can they justify any sequels?

Well you know the message behind T2? Sarah’s “No Fate But What We Make” bit? Well fuck that, kiddies! Let’s ignore it and that’s how sequels can be made. So already they begin doing the unholy sin of fan-based cinema. They start screwing with the rules and messing with the lore.

via Terminator

Because of that none of the films manage to capture or echo the themes and plight or even the tension of the first two movies. As a matter of fact the newest film, Terminator: Dark Fate is an insult to the victorious sacrifice of the 2nd movie.

In fact, it makes the tough decisions made in T2 obsolete. But only if you allow yourself to consider T: Dark Fate canon. And honestly, given the warped time-traveling alternate universe nexus this franchise’s timeline now suffers from it’s your pick to choose what is canon or not.

I grew up with Terminator and Terminator 2: Judgment Day, so to me, those two are the franchise. Everything else that followed is weird fan fiction that serves more like a bizarre Apocrypha to the original lore. Fun to explore and suppose may have happened, but not worthy enough to be considered canon.

What Cameron understood – and what follow-up film-makers never learned as they copied his stuff – was the imperfection of humanity and how it engages us.

via Terminator

Sarah Conner (Linda Hamilton) is not our first choice as the mother of humanity’s savior. She’s working a shitty job and lives to party all night long come every Friday. There’s not one thing about her to mark her as extraordinary.

She has no illusions of grandeur until her future comes back to the past to alter her own timeline. Her little life is thrown off course and she must now prepare to face a very terrifying future that she was not ready for.

The genius of the first movie is in what Sarah Connor is not! She’s not an action star. She’s a waitress of Big Boy (or whatdafuckever it was called) and had Kyle Reese (Michael Biehn) not shown up to save her she’d been dead. She couldn’t protect herself. It was all about her vulnerability and her need to grow.

John Connor (Edward Furlong), as we’re introduced to him in T2, is a delinquent and hardly a role model. He’s a shitty punk-ass kid who is a fuck up. You know, just like we all were back in the early ‘90s. He hangs out with his best friend at an arcade and doesn’t talk or act like some kind of future savior.

It’s the sort of thing other directors would have tripped all over. They’d have made him somehow messianic and special. Yeah, I’m looking right at George Lucas. Now hear me out. George Lucas was trying to tell a very similar story when he made those Jar Jar fucktastic prequels. He turned Anakin into space Jesus.

via Terminator 2

Now imagine if Anakin had just been some guy, someone newly married to his wife, a family guy with a mean streak for flying fast and being a cocky son of a bitch who just happened to have Force sensitivity. Someone we could sit and have a beer with. Giving us a human being to follow would have made those prequels way more engaging. It would have made his fall to the Dark Side way more devastating.

You see the thing that make us love our heroes so much is the silent humanity backing them. We can relate to them and that’s how they become timeless.

via Terminator 2

You look at little John Connor and you’re not supposed to think ‘hey! that there is the future savior!’ No, you just see a kid who goes hot rodding on his motor bike and flips off his foster parents. We could get into a lot of trouble if we hung out with him in middle school and that makes him cool.

Do you think he can save himself from a Terminator? Of fucking course not!

Our heroes are completely human! In a movie about an impending war set in the future and filled with high octane action sequences so hot it burns our eye lids away the human plot is not only never lost but fucking drives the movie on to victory!

That’s something a whole lot of other big-budget sci-fi action films really screw up. Yeah, that’s right I mean you, Godzilla vs. Kong you waste of potential.

via Terminator

Instead of shoehorning a few unbearable characters between CGI action sets and loud explosions, Cameron lets the pacing breath while thrilling us the whole time. We have a connection with who are heroes are and truly get a sense of the danger enveloping them. Their consequences have real value to us.

I never got that feeling for anyone in the following Terminator films.

Crafting Well-Known Lore For A New World

Cameron takes the Messiah narrative and retells it as a post-modern dark sci-fi action film. And because of our heroes’ genuine humanity, even a heartless/soulless machine like the T-800 cannot help to become more humanized by association.

By essence it is secretly a story of redemption, or, of a cold machine gaining a human heart. Connor is able to redeem his T-800 guardian from its murderous programming.

One of the most endearing moments in the film is when John and the Terminator are playing high five. The two bond over fixing a truck and the same kind of machine that was sent back once to kill him before his birth, now becomes the father John never had. That’s master-class story telling and holy shit it hits us on the subconscious level.

It’s not about the GREAT BIG ACTION FILM WHOOOOOOOO but all about the value of human life. Even the Terminator, a machine built to kill all human existence, can learns how to love and grieve. A Terminator learned this kind of compassion by hanging out with that little punk ass kid.

via Terminator 2

And by this, we sit back and accept that, yeah, John Connor is a natural-born leader. His charisma is off the charts. If he can make a Terminator human then he can lead us to victory over those who want to terminate us.

In the world we’re now living in we could use that kind of charisma. When people replace their hearts of flesh for a cold core – selfishly driven, programmed only to focus on their own needs while ignoring the plight of those around us -and when we see people becoming more and more machine like we need a revolutionary jolt of humanity.