FFWD REW

Terminator or Predator or RoboCop?

Geeks hate me for this one

If you ever want to make geeks angry — I mean really angry — suggest that RoboCop would beat a Terminator and a Predator in a fair fight.

I ’ ve done it. It drives geeks absolutely nuts. They go ballistic .

Hypothetical “ who-would-win ” scenarios are common among geeks (we call them “ thought experiments ” ) and the RoboCop-Terminator-Predator brawl is a fairly typical matchup apart from the fact that there are three hypothetical combatants instead of the traditional two. While discussing these nonexistent battles between fictional characters many people take the fanboy approach — they’d simply vote for their favourite character and spend 20 minutes describing how “ like totally badass he was in that one film where he kicked all that ass so like don ’ t even argue with me on this. Neo would totally beat up Goku. Argument over.”

Another approach is the “ combat analysis ” technique which is really quite fun. You look at the various skills tactics and weapons available to the characters and work out an outcome based on careful calculation. Or perhaps on arbitrary rock-scissors-paper arguments. ( “ Wolverine claws beat fangs! Dracula loses! Ha! ” )

Let’s take a look at the combatants. The Terminator according to the 1984 film is a time-travelling robot from the future. He is encased in realistic-looking flesh and skin giving him the outward appearance of Arnold Schwarzenegger. His eyes have an advanced computerized targeting system (although he still manages to miss whenever he shoots at the heroes) he can lure victims by mimicking human voices and it took an entire film to kill one of these things.

The Predator is next. According to the 1987 film this creature is an intelligent dangerous big-game hunter from another planet. He uses optic camouflage to make himself invisible (although this device always shorts out and stops functioning) and attacks from hidden locations using advanced alien weaponry. He can see humans in the dark using thermal optics and can also lure victims by mimicking human voices. It took an entire film to kill one of these things as well.

RoboCop is an impressive combatant in many respects but at first glance he really seems to be out of his league when up against such heavy opposition. RoboCop is physically resilient but if you shoot him enough with really big guns he ’ ll go down — at least temporarily. He also has the digital targeting system used by the Terminator and the heat detecting vision of the Predator. He ’ s armed with a fully automatic pistol and occasionally a “ Cobra Assault Cannon ” of massive destructive force.

Underneath all the armour RoboCop is still just a cop and if there ’ s one thing Terminators do well it ’ s kill cops. The Predator ’ s plasma cannon and ability to strike without warning also gives him an advantage against the heroic lawman. Surely it ’ s only a matter of time before the Predator unscrews RoboCop ’ s head and uses it as a hood ornament on his spaceship right?

Well there ’ s another way to look at this conflict and that ’ s “ playing the odds .” Y ’ see as tough as Terminators and Predators are they tend to not survive their own movies. RoboCop might take a beating and need extensive repairs but he always lives to see the end credits. Looking at it this way we now have one undefeated combatant up against two opponents who practically never win.

(As a side note it should be pointed out that we already know that Arnold Schwarzenegger can kill a Predator even when he isn ’ t a robot from the future.)

The first Terminator got destroyed by Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton) a plucky underdog with a gritty determination to survive. The first Predator got killed by Dutch (Schwarzenegger) a tough mercenary-turned-plucky-underdog with a gritty determination to survive. Perhaps you ’ re beginning to see a common weak point in these characters. The thing about RoboCop is that he can alternate between being an invincible badass (like the Predator and the Terminator) and being a plucky underdog with a gritty determination to survive and it is this second persona that will allow him to prevail.

Looking at the battle from a writer ’ s perspective RoboCop still has the advantage. Any script pitting these titans against one another is going to be guided by the owners of three different film franchises. You can kill a Terminator or a Predator without ending the franchise; another Terminator or Predator will arrive in the next film to take its place. But you can ’ t kill Officer Murphy. Not for good anyway. Doing so would affect revenue streams which is unacceptable. Therefore the only possible RoboCop-Terminator-Predator script that would get green-lighted would have Alex Murphy save the day.

One last detail: RoboCop doesn ’ t always kill his enemies as he has the authority to arrest them. Would this work on a Predator? Perhaps it would. We ’ ve seen that Predators operate under a very strict code of honour. Maybe if Officer Murphy bravely stared down the vicious clicking beast and ordered it into police custody the creature would obey. Just imagine being locked up on a drunk and disorderly rap and finding out that your cellmate is a giant dreadlocked psychopath from another galaxy!

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