A blockbuster film like the upcoming RoboCop doesn't just envision itself. That job falls to someone like production designer Martin Whist, who has been responsible for conceptualizing and designing such films as Super 8, Cloverfield, and The Cabin in the Woods. Whist took some time to speak to Comicbook.com about what went into designing the new RoboCop. ComicBook.com: So, what exactly was your job on RoboCop? Martin Whist: My job is basically to design and oversee the production of pretty much everything in the movie. ComicBook.com: Where did you draw inspiration from for the film's design? Martin Whist: For RoboCop, our basic approach for the concept and design of the film was to look at the first film and use it as a starting place
and a springboard for the film. With RoboCop himself, I looked at the original suit and design. There are two RoboCop designs in our film. The first is very much an homage in color and in design to the first film. I wanted to keep the hash marks on the shoulders and breastplate. The way the original suit was painted was groundbreaking at the time, how, in different lights, different hues of magenta and steel blue come out. The second was the black one, where we were making it a little more current, bringing it into the current visual vernacular of our world, thinking of the design of the original Alien and stealth bombers. Even how RoboCop is positioned on his motorcycle is based on superbike racing, adjusted for Robocop's size to make him look like he was in a forward-leaning, aggressive stance. I had to consider the aerodynamics of that and the lines of the design. The original suit was a little boxier, so with the second version, in order to separate it, we made it look a little cuvier and more streamlined. ComicBook.com: Can you tell us a little more about the motorcycle? Martin Whist: The bike was a very important element and a departure from the original film. It was in place before I started working on the film. [Director José Padilha] had already decided he wanted him solo on the bike, which I loved. The bike was something that needed to be very much a part of him, since he and it were both machines. The two very much fuse together, but not in a literal, science fiction kind of way. We wanted to keep it more "real world." The reality of the technology of RoboCop and everything in our film is close to real world technology. It's a real motorcycle, a Kawasaki, that I lengthened the wheelbase on. It drove, though it's not the easiest bike to ride because of the padding and the lengthened wheelbase, and I brought his center of gravity back over the gas tank, which is not ideal. Unlike the Bat-bike, it was able to turn and take corners. I was very conscious of not making the wheels too large, like the Bat-bike - which looked fantastic on screen, but didn't fit the needs of our film. The technology of making RoboCop was what we wanted to amp up a little bit, but nothing that farfetched. What is consumer grade in the movie is mostly lab technology in the real world. ComicBook.com: What kind of real world technology did you look at for inspiration for the film?
We looked into a lot of the advancements in fusion of biological and digital robotics, and the ability to actually move things by tapping into certain areas of the brain. Specifically, being able to think and move and do things like pick up a cup without aid, with RoboCop, being a brain moving a robotic body, but independent. These things in our world are being developed in the real world right now. I read an article about a certain prosthetic design tapping into the musculature, like t his one guy with a prosthetic leg, where before we were just looking at tapping into the area of the brain that controls the motor movement in the body. Nothing is to the degree of being able to highly function or a totally mobile robot with a human brain running it, but there is a lot of research that is in the early stages of that reality that we looked at for inspiration and that kind of thing. You'll see a monkey with a bunch of wires coming out of its head and being able to use a robotic hand to pick up a banana and realize that RoboCop isn't that farfetched. We looked at a lot of that for the technology. I looked into graphene, this super-material that's extremely light, highly conductive, and extremely strong. If it becomes consumer grade, it could be the wave of the future, so a lot of our handheld devices are made of it. That's what RoboCop is made out of, which makes all of the mechanics and "old school" circuitry obsolete because the information can be in the material. This kind of the technology we put, in a digital way, into consumer hands, and we go one step further for OmniCorp. There's no screen or even a thin film creating a monitor. It's a kind of beam technology, and that's not original to our film, but its closer and closer to our reality. We didn't want to be too crazy into the future, so we brought in a lot of stuff I saw in research and made them more common place. In RoboCop, the year is 2028 and multinational conglomerate OmniCorp is at the center of robot technology. Their drones are winning American wars around the globe and now they want to bring this technology to the home front. Alex Murphy (Kinnaman) is a loving husband, father and good cop doing his best to stem the tide of crime and corruption in Detroit. After he is critically injured in the line of duty, OmniCorp utilizes their remarkable science of robotics to save Alex's life. He returns to the streets of his beloved city with amazing new abilities, but with issues a regular man has never had to face before. RoboCop is scheduled for theatrical release on February 12, 2014