Comic-Con 2013: ‘RoboCop’ Panel Debuts First Trailer, Talks Rebooting the Original
Among the many offerings presented at the Columbia Pictures/Sony Comic-Con 2013 panel was the much-talked-about ‘RoboCop,’ the upcoming remake of the 1987 classic. The presentation, which debuted Friday, July 19 on the Hall H stage, featured appearances by director José Padilha, and stars Joel Kinnaman, Abbie Cornish, and Samuel L. Jackson.
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.
The panel opened with footage featuring Samuel L. Jackson as Pat Novak, a pro-robo media personality. His news segment centered around feed of his correspondent on the field in Afghanistan where the OmniCorp robots’ routine scan of the bystanders turns bad as rebels attack, setting off a slew of retaliations that lead to the death of a young boy.
For director Jose Pedilha, this social issue of using robots and drones in warfare was important to the film. “‘RoboCop’ is a brilliant film. It’s a film you can’t do again,” he said. “We just took the concept of ‘RoboCop’ … and we brought it to the present. We’re more in an environment where RoboCop could be present.”
One of the main villains, if you could even call him such, of the film is Michael Keaton’s Raymond Sellars, an OmniCorp higher-up. “He’s a big thinker. He understands the bigger question, but he sees the bigger picture and he simplifies it.” It’s not so much, “I’m right and you’re wrong.”
Jackson’s Novak, on the other hand, is “a guy who has an opinion and is not afraid to state it and use every means necessary to get people to agree with him.”
One of the main differences between the ‘RoboCop’ reboot and the original is the title character’s origins. “Alex doesn’t die. They manage to save his life, and he’s amputated from the neck down,” said Kinnaman. “He has an internal battle with the artificial intelligence and his own soul, his own humanity. That was a challenge.”
Cornish plays Murphy’s (RoboCop) wife in the film, and, for her, it’s his family relationships that help ground the film. “It’s how he’s affected on a deeper level. It was a really lovely role to play … a woman who really fought for her man.”
In addition to the initial footage, the panel debuted the first ‘RoboCop’ trailer, which was more of a spectacle. One of the driving issues the forces the creation of RoboCop was the ambivalence of the government to embrace OmniCorps’ robot patrols. “What does a robot feel when he kills a child?” “He doesn’t,” responds Keaton’s Sellar. So to sway public opinion, he creates a half-robot and half-human soldier. Kinnaman’s Murphy, who was thought dead after suffering a car explosion, is resurrected as RoboCop. Stepping out for the first time in his tech suit, he initially looked like the original film version from the ’80s, until Sellar says, “let’s make him more tactical. Let’s make him black.”
Interesting to note is the inclusion of RoboCop’s hand. Kinnaman describes the character as “a machine with a conscious. He’s a robot and human. They have to sell that.” In order to make the sell, Padilha reveals that OmniCorp allows him to keep his hand only for the illusion of human contact it affords (i.e. handshaking).
‘RoboCop’ also stars Gary Oldman, Jay Baruchel and Michael K. Williams, and is set to premiere on February 7, 2014.