2017 sees the release of Ghost in the Shell, the much-hyped live-action adaptation of the critically-acclaimed anime. Starring Scarlett Johanson as the cybernetic secret agent the Major, it will add to the ever-increasing list of robots in movies this decade.
You’ve got Neil Blomkamp’s Chappie, Ava from Ex Machina, Big Hero 6‘s Baymax, little BB-8 from Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Marvel’s Ultron and many, many more. It makes sense that, as our technology inexorably pushes us towards the point of science fiction, that we should be so interested in androids and artificial intelligences at this point in time. Even if we’re moving towards a point where humanity is obsolete and the world falls prey to the robo-apocalypse, at least the subject matter is making for some great movies.
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But cinema’s obsession with robots is not a new thing by any means. Metal men and women have proliferated the big screen since the very early days of the motion picture, and the past century has produced several cybernetic stars who have entered into popular culture.
After much deliberation, we’ve been able to whittle it all down to just the 15 greatest robots, androids and automatons in movie history. Some are murderous mutineers who turn against their human masters while others are faithful friends to the end, but every robot on this list is either brilliantly performed or terrifically designed (or in most instances, both).
We do have a few rules to point out before we start, though. This list is only for 100% robots. Cyborgs (e.g. Robocop), magical robot-types (Tim Man from The Wizard of Oz), artificial beings not made from metal (Roy Batty in Blade Runner) or A.I.s without a humanoid physical form (Hal from 2001 and The Matrix‘s Agent Smith) are all exempt. But enough about which characters didn’t make the cut, let’s see who did.