In a long tradition of Star Wars films, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story gives audiences an entertaining robot in the form of K-2SO, voiced by Alan Tudyk. The reprogrammed Imperial droid holds his own against his predecessors, but awesome automatons aren't limited to galaxies far, far away.
Robots have shared the screen almost as long as cinema has existed, and the machinations have taken various forms over the last 90 years. From loyal companions to mechanical menaces, there are as many different types of robot as there are types of human, and as humans continue to rely on automation in our daily lives, we see more robots in film.
Take a look back at the best bots in film and let us know your favorites in the comments!
Maschinenmensch - Metropolis
One of the very first, but easily most influential, robots in all of cinema is Maschinenmensch. She played d pivotal role in one of the first films about humanity's technological advancements and regard for whether or not robots are truly machines or if they can be considered actual beings. The special effects are obviously outdated at this point, but the themes in the film and design of the robot would go on to influence filmmakers for generations.
[H/T YouTube/Screen Time]
R2-D2, C-3PO, and BB-8 - The Star Wars Saga
Everyone has their personal preference on whether they like the snarky pessimism of C-3PO or the loyal mischievousness of R2-D2, so it's hard to separate the two. As if their roles in the first six Star Wars films wasn't enough, in The Force Awakens, we met a new droid with BB-8 who has captivated audiences as much as his eventual allies. No matter who your preference, when it comes to droids, Star Wars will have you covered with its diverse array of robotic companions.
[H/T YouTube/Dark Ren]
Ash and Bishop - Alien/Aliens
When it comes to the most successful science fiction elements of the Alien franchise is clearly the titular aliens, but the films have also led to some truly great moments featuring robots. In Alien, a vicious attack seemingly kills crew member Ash (Ian Holm), only for Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) to realize he's actually a robot. His programming goes haywire and gives him a violent streak, causing Ripley to distrust androids. In Aliens, Ripley's wariness around Bishop (Lance Henriksen), the crew's android companion, gives the film some of its most interesting character dynamics. Luckily, Bishop's programming is a little more reliable and his assistance helps Ripley destroy the alien queen.
[H/T YouTube/Hannah Bracey]
Replicants - Blade Runner
Ridley Scott's adaptation of Philip K. Dick's Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, Deckard (Harrison Ford) is a member of a special agency tasked with discovering humanlike robots with imperceptible differences from actual humans. The story is heavily influenced by the themes of Metropolis, leading Deckard to question what really makes someone human, while hunting down Roy (Rutger Hauer) and Pris (Daryl Hannah). The themes resonate so strongly that even over 30 years later, people are arguing if Deckard himself was a Replicant without even realizing it.
T-800 - The Terminator
Regardless of some of the directions the franchise took in later sequels, Arnold Schwarzenegger's portrayal of a robot designed only to terminate in the original The Terminator is flawless. Thanks to his massive physique and his minimal dialogue, he was a force to be reckoned with. It was a nice change of pace to see the robot fight for good in Terminator 2: Judgement Day and see his fight to help keep someone alive, which is also a credit to the premise that you could fear the character in one film while siding with it in the next.
[H/T YouTube/Robert Sandu]
The Iron Giant - The Iron Giant
Every kid wishes they had a massive robot as a best friend growing up, right? Well, The Iron Giant showed us just how magical and, at some times, annoying that could be. Vin Diesel voiced the extraterrestrial behemoth whose initial intention was to destroy, but a bump on the noggin and a friendship with Hogarth Hughes (Eli Marienthal) showed the monstrosity there was more to life than being a gun. Just thinking of The Iron Giant saying "Superman" should be enough to get your eyes watering.
Marvin, the Paranoid Android - The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
Could you imagine possessing virtually all of the information in the entire universe, but being relegated to helping navigate a couple of buffoons around the galaxy? Well, not you know how Marvin feels. Alan Rickman lent his voice to the 2005 theatrical adaptation of the Douglas Adams story, perfectly capturing the sorrow and depression of knowing how much knowledge he contains and how little of it could even use. Warwick Davis helped bring the character to life on-screen while showcasing a robot that wasn't powerful or reliable but merely dreaded its own existence.
[H/T YouTube/sephiriam's channel]
Wall-E - Wall-E
The ultimate testament to just how charming and engaging Wall-E, a robot that can't even talk, can be, keep in mind that there's no actual dialogue in the film for the first 30 minutes. Our hero is definitely reminiscent of the lovable R2-D2, thanks in part to Ben Burtt having done sound design for both lovable robots. Wall-E's relationship with Eve is one of the most adorable and compelling love stories in any animated film, and they accomplish that all with body language. It's a shame we haven't gotten to see Wall-E in a film since 2008, but we can only imagine what kind of incredible adventures he must be having.
Baymax - Big Hero 6
Robots have been assisting people in film ever since they were first introduced, but Baymax took that desire to help to a new level. Originally, Baymax acted as a type of paramedic, but through some software hacking, he was taught various martial arts, and he was equipped with high-tech armor to become a nearly unstoppable crime fighter. What makes Baymax so great, is that underneath all that armor, he's just a big huggable, squishable, inflatable shell, which is a stark contrast the cold, hard steel we typically associate with robots.
Vision - Avengers: Age of Ultron
It almost feels like an insult to refer to Vision as a robot, as he's proven himself as so much more through the course of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. His humble beginnings were as J.A.R.V.I.S. (Just A Really Very Intelligent System) that was Iron Man's operating system. In Age of Ultron, he made the leap to a physical, where Paul Bettany finally got to physicalize his voice performances from previous films. Since his debut, his abilities have proven himself as one of the most powerful members of the Avengers, and his completely logical approach to every situation means he'd probably be the first to admit he's nothing more than an android.