Is there anything more frustrating than the RoboCop franchise? The first movie is an undisputed classic, and it would be enough for it to be merely one of the greatest action/sci-fi movies ever made. The fact that it has a thread of sharp (and more and more prescient) satire woven through it only makes it better. As a standalone genre film, it can stand shoulder to shoulder with the likes of Alien, The Terminator, and yes, even Star Wars.
But unlike those other films, whose respective franchises have some highs beyond their first installments, RoboCop…does not. We can charitably call RoboCop 2 a divisive movie, and even its defenders are unlikely to argue that it bests the original. RoboCop 3…happened. There were some attempts to make RoboCop work on TV in live action, with uneven results, and there was a brutally sanitized Saturday morning cartoon. The 2014 remake was better than expected but ultimately, like the sequels, failed to live up to the legacy of the original.
But like the Frankenstein Christ allegory that he always has been, RoboCop will never stay dead. And RoboCop co-creator Ed Neumeier is working on a new sequel (yes, sequel, not reboot), called RoboCop Returns, with Neill Blomkamp now signed to direct for MGM. Neumeier will executive produce with the other original robo-writer, Michael Miner.
Now here’s the best part. RoboCop Returns will be based on the script for Neumeier and Michael Miner’s original draft for RoboCop 2. That script was turned in early in 1988 (called RoboCop: The Corporate Wars) and it was even more far out and subversive than the original. It didn’t get made, and virtually none of it ended up in the final product. The catch? It immediately jumps ahead 25 years into Robo’s future. It’s pretty bonkers, and we wrote about it in much more detail right here. Justin Rhodes has written a new script based on that old draft.
It’s hard to think of a more appropriate director for a new RoboCop movie than Blomkamp, too. “The original definitely had a massive effect on me as a kid,” Blomkamp told Deadline, who broke the news. “I loved it then and it remains a classic in the end of 20th Century sci-fi catalog, with real meaning under the surface. Hopefully that is something we can get closer to in making of a sequel. That is my goal here…What draws me now is someone searching for their lost identity, taken away at the hands of people who are benefiting from it, and seeing his memory jogged by events. That is most captivating. The other thing I am excited by is the chance to work again with Justin Rhodes. He has added elements that are pretty awesome, to a sequel that was set in the world of Verhoeven. This is a movie I would love to watch.”
Think of this as the new and somewhat reliable “ignore all the lousy sequels” approach to not rebooting a franchise. While Neumeier doesn’t explicitly state that RoboCop 2 and 3 will no longer be in continuity, it would be easy to mostly ignore them and tell a story of Detroit 30 years after the events of the original.
Maybe a time jump is just what Alex Murphy needs. Although the odds of getting Peter Weller to suit up again seem exceedingly slim. But imagine, if you will, the Creed of the RoboCop franchise. Actually yes, do that, because Creed is the 2nd best Rocky movie after the original.
There’s no release date set for this yet, but we hope things move along quickly.
Mike Cecchini serves the public trust, protects the innocent, and upholds only the laws he agrees with on Twitter.