Is Robocop Steampunk? Let’s have a look at some of the key elements of the movie in order to decide whether it meets the criteria in order to be classified as steampunk or not. If not, does it fit into one of the other punk aesthetics? Let’s find out.
Before we get into whether Robocop is steampunk or not, let’s look at what the film is about to get a flavor as to whether it is steampunk or not.
Movie Title: Robocop
Studio: Orion Pictures
Story By: Edward Neumeier, Michael Miner
Release Date: July 17, 1987 (United States)
Main Actors: Peter Weller, Nancy Allen, Dan O’Herlihy
Synopsis: In a violent, near-apocalyptic Detroit, an evil corporation Omni Consumer Products, wins a contract from the city government to privatize the city’s police force.
In order to test their crime-eradicating cyborgs, the company deceitfully leads veteran street cop, Alex Murphy into an armed confrontation with the crime, Lord Boddicker. This is so they can use his body to support their untested RoboCop cyborg prototype.
When Robocop learns of the company’s nefarious plans, he turns on his masters to seek justice.
What Makes a Movie Steampunk?
Before we answer the question, is Robocop steampunk? Let’s have a look at some of the key characteristics of a steampunk movie.
There are a number of elements that need to combine in order to classify a movie as steampunk.
Check out our in depth guide as to what makes a movie steampunk for more information on this. Whether something fits into the steampunk genre or not is a topic that is always up for hot debate in the forums.
As steampunk sadly never existed, there is no history to check the validity against, however, there is some faux pas that means that something is clearly not steampunk.
Things such as this we would class as being ‘steampunk inspired’, i.e. they don’t traditionally conform to the steampunk genre, but they have taken elements from it to inspire them.
As a quick recap, we’ve lined up our top 10 elements to look out for in a steampunk movie.
If you’re interested in learning more about steampunk, check out our article, ‘What is Steampunk?’, which will take you through the history, influences, fashions, gadgets, and much more.
Top 10 Things to Look Out for In a Steampunk Movie
- The Use of Steam – In steampunk, electricity has never been invented, everything is mechanical and powered by steam. This means that if you can see digital machinery in a movie, it isn’t traditional steampunk, therefore it may be classified as ‘steampunk inspires’
- Steam Powered Vehicles – In steampunk movies, as with the above, you will only see vehicles powered by steam, cars, ships, and even submarines.
- Airships – Airships are popular within the steampunk genre – again, mechanically powered.
- Set In Victorian Era or an Alternative History – Steampunk is set in either the Victorian Era (19th Century), or in an alternative, future, occasionally depicted as a ‘wild west’ setting.
- The Clothing – Clothing can vary, but is normally focused around the fashions of Victorian England, or that of a colonial explorer.
- Augmented Mechanical Humans – In steampunk, persons can normally be seen with mechanically replaced elements to their body, sometimes these are full replacements, other times, a mechanical exoskeleton.
- Gadgets & Gears – futuristic (mechanical) gadgets are common place in the steampunk genre. A personal favorite is a gun that mechanically springs from up a sleeve to the user’s hand, ready and poised for use. Gears can be seen throughout the steampunk genre, emphasizing the mechanical theme that is central to the aesthetic.
- Time Travel – Time travel is no an essential component of steampunk, however, it can be seen in some steampunk works. Just remember that the time travel device needs to be mechanical and not digital/ electronic.
- The Paranormal – The paranormal is not traditional steampunk, however, the crossover between the genres is common. The villain in steampunk is normally a man made creation as opposed to being a mythical creature, demon, vampire, etc.
- Advanced Technology – Technology that is advanced for its time is a standard theme throughout steampunk. The technology must be mechanical in nature, such as the analog computer.
If you’re interested in steampunk movies, why not check out our guide to the best steampunk movies, and see if you can find a new favorite?
So, let’s take a look, is Robocop steampunk?
What Elements of Robocop Are Steampunk?
Augmentation is often seen within steampunk, and this is seen in Robocop, however, RoboCop takes it to the next level, beyond that of steampunk. In steampunk very retro, mechanical prosthetics can be seen (often constructed of wood, leather, and brass) working on a series of pullies and leavers. Robocop is a cybernetic digital network – definitely not steampunk esque.
What Elements of Robocop Are NOT Steampunk?
The movie is set in a dystopian society, this alone does not make this movie not steampunk, however, steampunk is normally set in a happier, more hopeful setting, full of cutting edge inventions signifying the ‘new’. The politics of Robocop also differs from that of steampunk. Robocop depicts corrupt corporations and capitalism, this is more in keeping with the cyberpunk genre than steampunk.
The gadgetry seen in the movie is definitely futuristic and not retro-futuristic as you would see in steampunk. Also, the world does not run on steam.
Furthermore, the world is digital and not analog as you would expect to see in steampunk. The IT infrastructure is advanced.
So, Overall Is Robocop Steampunk?
Robocop is not a steampunk movie, it is set in a dystopian digital world, with technology far too advanced for the steampunk genre, and dare we say it, no steam! It’s aesthetic fits more comfortably within the cyberpunk genre.
What are your thoughts? Is the movie Robocop steampunk? Let us know in the comments below what your opinion is and why.