“There are no strings on me.” That chilling line got us so excited for Avengers: Age of Ultron, and it came from the big bad bot himself, Ultron. But why, as mainstream audiences, do we love these robot characters-gone-bad? If you take a look back at literature and cinema, it’s a recurring theme and a successful one. Why do we love a story with a creepy robot? Is it the fear of AI overcoming human intelligence? Or maybe the fear that robots have a different code of ethics? In preparation for our favorite heroes’ throw-down with Ultron, we’ll count down our favorite “bad robots” (honorable mention, JJ Abrams).
We’re going old school for this first one (or new school, if you’re picturing the most recent attempt at reviving The Day the Earth Stood Still franchise). The Day the Earth Stood Still is an American classic from 50s cinema. Not only did it push the boundaries of cinema sci-fi, but it brought us a great example of evil or dangerous robotics. Gort is described as being an interstellar “police force”, and he accompanies the alien, Klaatu, in his visit to Earth. Armed with a deadly laser beam that shoots from his visor, and programming that directs him to destroy all harmful and threatening forces, Gort is a major force to be reckoned with. Gort doesn’t speak or move much, but when he’s given the signal to attack, look out!
How do you kill, enslave, and defeat a race of super-powered mutants? Well, in Marvel Comics, the answer was the Sentinel program. Possibly one of the most iconic group of X-Men villains, the Sentinels used their technology to learn from and defeat their mutant prey. In short, they were able to observe, learn, and counter attack the X-Men and the Brotherhood. Yeah, Wolverine, Cyclops, and the rest of the crew might have busted up a few of these bad boys, but their sheer number and force could make any mutant shiver in fear.
Sometimes the creep factor is sitting there right before your eyes and you don’t even know it. Ash, in the movie Alien, seems likable and harmless…that is until he begins to follow protocol and turn against his fellow crew members. Leave it to Ridley Scott to create such a gross, creepy robot death scene.
7. Roy Batty
You have to give it to Roy Batty, he probably has the greatest monologue on this list of evil bots. The story of the replicants and their struggle to cope with their existence in the dystopian future carries Blade Runner to places few movies ever get. But when Roy Batty awaits his demise atop that rainy rooftop, he steals the movie with his line, “I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I watched C-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhauser gate. All those moments will be lost in time… like tears in rain… time to die.”
You know you’re a super evil robot computer when even Superman is having trouble defeating you. Brainiac is considered one of the Man of Steel’s greatest adversaries, and he has proven himself to be quite a menace time and time again. Rumor has it, we’ll be seeing Brainiac on the big screen in a few years, but until then…we’re ok with him just existing on paper. (shudders)
How do you compete against a giant, city-crushing lizard? Just make a giant, city-crushing robot lizard! MechaGodzilla is one of Godzilla’s most famous opponents, and has taken him on many times on film. MechaGodzilla’s villainy depends on what side of the fence you stand on, but we always side with the big green scaly dude, and he’s not a fan.
Optimus Prime and the Autobots have many adversaries, but none as evil and menacing as Megatron, leader of the Decepticons. We’ve seen him take many forms throughout the years, but his evil plans and diabolical personality have always made him a baddy we love to hate!
3. HAL 9000
“Open the pod bay doors, Hal.” If you’re a fan of classic Kubrick, you know the answer is, “I cannot do that, Dave…” Hal 9000 was a brilliant reimagining of artificial intelligence, and brings an added sense of eeriness and creep factor to 2001: A Space Odyssey. Watch this movie and you might want to avoid talking to your Xbox for a while.
Yep, even though he’s leading the fight against the Avengers in the upcoming, Age of Ultron, we have another serious contender in line for first place on our list of evil baddies. However, you simply can’t deny the fact that Ultron is one of the most wicked, malevolent characters Marvel has created. Add in the fact that he’s a robot, and you’ve got the makings of a superb super villain. We will be looking forward to seeing James Spader take on the role!
That’s right. Is there any way you can argue against the terrifying notion that machines will take over the world? We thought not. Terminator brought to us the idea that machines could one day rule the Earth, and we were left to ponder if man could somehow go back in time to stop the evil machines that would take mankind down. We’re looking forward to seeing a new installment in the Terminator franchise this summer, and we think, after all is said and done, the Terminator will reign supreme. “Hasta la vista, baby.”
No matter who your favorite evil machine is, you’ll probably enjoy the evil robots taking center stage this summer on the big screen and in comics. There are no strings on these big bad bots, but you can rest assured, nothing beats some good old fashion human intuition.