The 10 Best Robot Friends In Movies, Buddies Made Of Real Steel
This weekend those of us who enjoyed childhood in the 80s and early 90s are finally getting our Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots film. Of course Real Steel is more like a re-imagining of Over the Top with boxing robots. We can only hope that Jackman’s character needs to turn his hat around at some point to indicate he means serious shadow boxing business.
Science fiction movies have a long history of bringing robots to life. Some are good, some evil, and a few who are friends. This is a celebration of the best robot buddies in film. Today we show love for those robots that stand by our side, make us laugh, and even make us care for them. Robots may one day rise up and destroy mankind, but if it does happen at least we’ll have a few good robot buddies on our side.
These are our 10 favorite robot buddies.
The Iron Giant
Animation fans were introduced to Brad Bird (The Incredibles) in a big way back in the late 90s with Iron Giant. Possibly the greatest non-Disney animated film to be released up until that time, the film’s story is based on a Cold War children’s novel which never updated its message for our time. Because despite the anti-gun messaging – young Hogarth constantly tells the giant, “You’re not a gun” – this is still a story about a kid and his friend. A friend who happens to be a huge space robot that may or may not be sent to Earth to destroy the planet. But in finding Hogarth the Iron Giant is capable of stopping himself from immediately destroying any weapon or threat he comes across. It also helps that the Iron Giant is a super cool enormous metal eating robot that can take on a whole army. Who wouldn’t want that as a best friend?
T-800 from Terminator 2
To millions of fans the Schwarzenegger Terminator model is the protector. The one who puts everything he can behind the purpose of keeping John Connor alive. T2 is a huge movie done on an epic scale, but amidst the fight to stop Judgment Day is a kid reaching out to a machine. The T-800 is John’s protector, but he becomes a friend. Having a neural net processor, a learning machine, in his head helps the T-800 to grow in personality. We know it’s fake, that there’s no real feelings behind what’s happening. And while we witness epic chase after epic battle after amazing special effect throughout the film it always returns to the moments between John and the machine. In a way the sequels have dampened the relationship that evolved in T2, and that’s why I’ll never like them as much as the original 2 films. We’ve since learned how much James Cameron likes classic love stories, and it should have been obvious all along. The T-800 does more than just keep John physically alive, he ensures that the young man is the type of person who can grow up to be humanity’s savior.
V.I.N.CENT from The Black Hole
Though the movie itself was originally greenlit as a way to cash-in on the popularity of Star Wars, and though the character himself was almost definitely created as a way of aping R2D2, somehow everything about The Black Hole and V.I.N.CENT manages to stand on their own two feet. Unlike R2D2, V.I.N.Cent isn’t just loveable, he’s dangerous. His name may stand for Vital Information Necessary CENTralized but this little robot’s more than a floating encyclopedia. He’s a crack shot and he’s packing heat. Incredibly brave and impossible to intimidate despite his smallish size, V.I.N.CENT stands up to bigger, badder robot models to protect the defenseless and save his human friends. V.I.N.CENT’s the kind of robot you want on your side.
The Fix Its from Batteries Not Included
We don’t really know what the “Fix Its” are, or where they came from. They look like mini-spaceships, which is mentioned in the movie. And there’s even a question of whether little beings live on and operate the machines. But the machines themselves exhibit emotional reactions, and they appear to have three offspring. All we do know is that when times are tough for some elderly East Village tenants in NYC these little guys show up to help out. There’s no real reason why they’re there. When arson destroys the home of Frank and Faye, along with the other residents of the building, the Fix Its get help and rebuild the building. Perhaps they’ve come to Earth to make humans better buildings. Interestingly batteries not included was written, in part, by Brad Bird.
Jinx from Space Camp
OK…so maybe Jinx sort of gets Max into a bit of a bind by getting the kid launched into space when the shuttle isn’t ready. I’ll concede that point. But the sentient robot Jinx is exactly the kind of robot you’d want to be a pal. He really listens to you and does what he can to help. Unfortunately he’s a robot and is incapable of weighing the possible issues an action could cause. But he comes through. Max wants to go to space, so Jinx puts Max into space. Max needs to be saved, so Jinx helps ground control to bring him home safe. SpaceCamp is one of those “you had to grow up with it” films, and that certainly shows if watched today. He may not be able to blow shit up with laser rockets, but Jinx will make it his mission to get you whatever you desire. That’s the mark of a great robot friend.
Bumblebee from Transformers: The Movie
Transformers did one thing spectacularly right: told the story of a boy and his first car. Everything else that surrounded that core foundation was eye candy. A feat that Michael Bay is apparently designed to accomplish with each film he makes. Bumblebee is actually much better in the film version than in the old cartoon. Blasphemer you may call me, but you know this to be true. There is no other robot on this list that comes class to the kick-assery involved with being friends with Bumblebee. He can fight for you, help you escape, and if you get tossed about by building sized alien robots he’ll do the patented mid-air roll grab transform into a car and speed away maneuver.
The Good Robot Us’s from Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journey
Now we’re getting closer to Real Steel territory with the pair of good robot versions of Bill and Ted. Built by Station, and being his most bodacious creations, the Good Robot Us’s are remote controlled. Perhaps they’re not the best looking robots, but what do you want from an early 90s hardware store? Even the most genius of creatures in heaven aren’t capable of miracles. I’ll always maintain that Bogus Journey is a really fun film that is highly quotable. And when Bill and Ted finally get their revenge on the Evil Bill and Ted androids, via remote controlled robot smack down, it’s a great moment. Sure a sentient robot would be cool to have, but there’s something to be said for a life size remote controlled version of you.
R2D2 from Star Wars
R2 is always there when you need him. With just some bleeps, bloops and whistles the little trashcan looking robot is capable of an expressive personality. Always bold and ready to do what it takes, R2 is the loyal friend who’ll ride alongside giving assistance. The astromech droid is not just brave, but he’s always capable of figuring out what needs to be done. Incapable of always communicating – unless C-3PO is around to translate – R2 has a tendency to just take charge of a situation and do what he needs to. Defense systems are quite limited; so don’t look for R2 to take as stand in a battle. But if you need a gate opened to mount an assault, he’s your droid.
Number 5 from Short Circuit
When SAINT Number 5 is short-circuited he is changed forever. He becomes sentient… alive. From that moment forward he wants to be accepted as a living being. It doesn’t matter that he’s made up of mechanical parts and desires input more than any other living being on earth. Usually when robots become self aware they attempt to enslave or destroy mankind. Number 5 just wants to become part of society, and he likes to dance. Unfortunately a lot of the comedy from the film stems from racist stereotypes…seriously 80s, what was up with your blatant comedy film racism? Ben Jamituya (Fisher Stevens) was only one of many during that era. Still you can’t help but be charmed by Number 5’s earnestness and desire to be accepted by his friends. Plus he does have the shoulder laser canon, a nice bonus feature for any robot pal.
Marvin from Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
Marvin is 50 million times smarter than a mattress. He has a mind that holds a planet sized amount of information. In short, he’s likely the smartest robot companion you could hope to have by your side. He also happens to be severely depressed and bored. Marvin makes Eeyore look like Melissa Joan Hart in Can’t Hardly Wait. “This is a yearbook, people!” At first glance you may not be inclined to choose the Paranoid Android as a buddy. But the stoic robot would wait for you for billions of years if that’s what it took.
Now I lay me down to sleep
Try to count electric sheep
Sweet dream wishes you can keep
How I hate the night