In the future, we’ll trade in our wasted organic parts for fancy metal and plastic replacements, converting and augmenting our bodies into cyborgs. We’ve seen some excellent examples of cyborgs in movies, TV shows, comics and video games, and in this feature we’ll spotlight the best cyborgs of all time. Hopefully you can get some inspiration for your own post-human transformation here.
This was one of my favourite movies when I was kid. Officer Alex Murphy is a damn fine cop, and amputating most of his body isn’t going to change that. Paul Verhoeven’s dystopian classic RoboCop looks more and more prescient each day, and it’s only a matter of time before OCP takes over Detroit for real. One of the most chilling scenes in the movie comes when Murphy’s doctors tell OCP’s Bob Morton that they’ve managed to save one of Murphy’s arms, only for Morton to command them to take it off to make Robo more efficient. From the baby food diet to the crook-wrecking hand cannon, Robocop is one of the best cyborgs of all time.
Choosing a favorite cyborg from the Mortal Kombat series is like choosing a favorite pallette-swapped ninja from the Mortal Kombat series: just about impossible. After much deliberation, we decided to go with Kano. Not only was he represented in the very first game, he also has some of the nastiest fatalities in the whole series. As the leader of the Black Dragon, he came into contact with Jackson “Jax” Briggs early in his career. Fist-to-face contact, that is, as Jax smashed his skull and eye socket, forcing him to get fitted for a cyborg prosthetic that can shoot lasers.
Most of the cyborgs on this list have been created through pretty high-tech means. Unfortunately, sometimes you don’t have the best and brightest scientists on call and you have to wing it. Ash Williams, the protagonist of the Evil Dead series, gets his machine parts the hard way. After seeing his hand possessed by a “deadite,” he cuts it off with his trusty chainsaw and mounts the machine to his stump, transforming him into a gore-spouting murder machine of the highest caliber. Eventually he makes a metal hand to take its place, but the chainsaw is really the pimp gear.
Let’s be frank: a lot of the time, being a cyborg kind of sucks. Case in point: Deathlok the Demolisher. Colonel Luther Manning was fatally injured in the line of duty, but for some crazy-ass reason his body was preserved and brought back to life in the future tricked out with a panoply of mechanical parts. Nobody actually ever asked him if this was cool, so naturally he has some problems adjusting to the whole deal. Later on, he travels back in time to team up with Spider-Man and winds up brainwashed and turned into a living bomb. While he was functioning, though, he kicked a lot of ass – massive strength, computer-quick reflexes and a damn laser gun. All awesome.
Seven Of Nine
We like to think of the process of cyborgification as simply adding non-sentient metal parts to be controlled by our human consciousness. But what if the robot bits were the consciousness? Ergo, the Borg, one of the longest-running Star Trek foes. Probably the most interesting example of the Borg is Seven of Nine from Star Trek: Voyager. Rescued by the crew and severed from the Borg collective, the bodacious Seven had to re-adjust to those pesky human feelings while using her advanced capabilities to help the ship.
Probably the best toy tie-in comic of all time, Rom: Spaceknight took a doomed Hasbro action figure and spun a world of star-spanning adventure around it. The planet Galador was under attack by the rapacious Dire Wraiths, so brave Galadorians chose to be transformed into Spaceknights, cold steel warriors built to combat the powerful foes. Rom was sent to Earth to continue the fight, where us dumb-ass humans treated him like he was the bad guy – mainly because the Wraiths could shapeshift to human form. Alas, because of copyrights the series will never be reprinted.
If you look back objectively, He-Man was kind of a tool. Prancing around in his furry underwear and bondage gear, riding a cat into battle – it’s all a little suspect. In contrast, Skeletor and his henchmen seem pretty awesome. Case in point: Trap Jaw. A villain from another dimension, he hooks up with Skeletor early in his career and makes a name for himself with his metal jaw that can bite through anything. The more metal he eats, the stronger he becomes, which makes him a great role model for the kids out there.
One of my favorite Buffy big bads was Adam, the final product of the demon-hunting group known as the Initiative. Created by Maggie Walsh as an attempt to build the perfect organism, Adam is half human, half demon and half machine. Yes, I realize that that’s three halves. He’s just that much of a badass. After his first act – killing his creator – he set out into the world to make more creatures like himself. Despite having a built-in grenade launcher among other armaments, Adam’s greatest weapon is his computerized intelligence and demonic charisma. Buffy and crew barely manage to stop him, and that’s pretty tough.
One of the most badass characters in the Metal Gear Solid series is Gray Fox. When we meet him in the first game, he’s in the guise of a cyborg ninja who appears at helpful intervals to wreck stuff – but is he friend or foe? His real name is Frank Jaeger, and he was once one of Solid Snake’s compatriots in Foxhound. He comes to a particularly grisly end, but his trademark battle armor shows up on a few other characters throughout the series. The ninja really hammered home the fact that Snake wasn’t a superhuman protagonist in his own game, but a vulnerable meatbag who needed to be smart to survive.
…and, of course
Easily the most awesome man-machine to ever walk the earth, Darth Vader is such a tremendous badass that even three prequel movies couldn’t dampen his swag. Born Anakin Skywalker, the Sith Lord slowly went over to the Dark Side, but that’s not why he got all droided up. No, it was falling into an active volcano after a vicious fight with Obi-Wan Kenobi that did it. Even before the volcano dive, Anakin had already lost all of his arms and legs to lightsaber attacks. Rescued by the evil Emperor Palpatine, Vader is reconstructed as a heavy breathing juggernaut of pure evil.