This weekend giant robots are the last best hope for, well, giant robots being cool again. Pacific Rim tells us to “go big or go extinct,” but the trope of giant robots is really what’s in danger here. Without making your story totally silly, why would you need a giant robot in the first place? Why does it need arms and legs at all? Regardless, giant robots—Transformers not withstanding—have been absent from screens large and small for awhile now. Here’s a look at six of the coolest.
Gort The Day the Earth Stood Still
Silent, tall and obedient, Gort might make the perfect date, depending on your tastes. But he’s really only loyal to the human-looking space traveler Klaatu. If the latter comes with a message of peace and warning, then Gort is the muscle, and kind back-up reminder that if we don’t change our ways, giant robots might get us with a death ray. Still, Gort could be tamed if you knew his safe-word.
Unicron Transformers: The Movie 1986
All the transformers and their lame kin (GoBots!) could dominate a list like this all by themselves. But, to date, I’m pretty sure the most giant of all the giant robots is Unicron. Initially depicted as a planet-eating death-sphere, Unicron soon transforms into robot-mode, an evolutionary adaptation which gives him a palm the size of our moon. Bigger than most planets and voiced by Orson Wells, nobody screws with Unicron.
MechaGodzilla Godzilla Versus MechaGodzilla
Why have regular Godzilla when you can have a robot version of him? Initially conceived by bad guys as a way to sort of frame regular Godzilla, MechaGodzilla is exactly what you think he is; a robot version of the real thing. Did the real Godzilla meditate on the philosophical problems of having a doppelganger? You bet he did! And in a move worthy of Nabokov’s Despair, Godzilla sought to destroy said doppelganger!
Imagine you’re a person sitting in a room, alone, drinking coffee, and somebody asks you for an idea for a kid’s TV Show, and without hesitating you’re like “how about a bunch of robot lions which converge to form a bigger robot, called Voltron?” Now, if you’re this person, you’re insane. And also, probably rich. Plus, who doesn’t use the word “Voltron” as a synonym for cooperative collaboration? Wait, just us?
The Mechanical Monsters Superman “The Mechanical Monsters”
Remote-controled, and clearly numbered (so as not to confuse their evil mad-scientist dad) the Mechanical Monsters are the quintessential tall, giant robots of doom. The Fleischer Superman cartoons influenced the way we thought of the Last Son of Krypton forever, but the influence of these giant robots cannot be understated. In fact, the robots which attack an alternate-universe Manhattan in Sky Captain & The World of Tomorrow are nearly exact copies of those seen in this iconic episode.
Tripods War of the Worlds
The image of a spidery-three-legged walking robot monsters most likely originates with this early invasion classic. Though depicted as flying spaceships in later film versions, the original Martian War Machines were giant walking robots with three legs (see all old school covers of the novel AND the inside pages for proof!). There’s nothing scarier than a giant robot hell-bent on destroying everything, but an alien giant robot? That’s something else.
What classic work of fiction would benefit from having giant robots added to it?