This past week, the latest incarnation of our favorite cyborg cop showed up in movie theaters, alongside an all star cast of Batman (Michael Keaton), Sirius Black (Gary Oldman) and Samuel L. Jackson (Ray Arnold). The connection between RoboCop and other science fiction worlds can make you dizzy if you think about it too long, or if you’ve even attempted to read Frank Miller’s RoboCop. So for the sake of a bit of focused insanity, let’s stick to the original RoboCop and Star Trek.
A few Star Trek people feature in the 1987 original Paul Verhoeven joint, but that’s not all! Some of the roles of these Star Trek actors are thematically linked to their RoboCop roles, too.
Captain Jellico Was a Jerk to RoboCop!
Morally bankrupt corporate jackass with criminal connections galore, one of the three (not counting robot ED-209!) antagonists of the original (classic?) RoboCop is Dick Jones, second in command at Omni Consumer Products. Now, Dick is played by veteran character actor Ronny Cox, who according to Verhoeven’s DVD commentary, was being cast against type at the time, since some of his previous roles had made him seem like a “nice guy.” In RoboCop, Dick Jones is arguably the worst of three villains since he’s the one who is protecting Alex Murphy’s killer; drug/crime lord Boddicker (Kurtwood Smith.) If you’ve seen Ronny Cox as the super-conservative temporary Captain Picard replacement on The Next Generation’s “Chain of Command,” BEFORE you’ve seen RoboCop, you’ll be wondering why Dick Jones doesn’t tell everyone at OCP to “GET IT DONE.”
That Doofus on the Excelsior INVENTED RoboCop!
In Star Trek III: The Search for Spock, we’re introduced to the supposedly brand-new-hotter-than-a-supernova-if my-grandmother-had-wheel-she’d-be-a-wagon, starship Excelsior. In many ways, in its initial outing, the Excelsior is representative of the OCP-esque direction this more corporate Starfleet seems to be taking. To, that point, the first officer/helmsman of the Excelsior is played by an actor named Miguel Jose Ferrer, son of many people’s definitive Cyrano; Jose Ferrer. But, his famous father aside, Miguel may have made his mark forever on science fiction with RoboCop, because after playing the coke-snorting rival of Dick Jones; Bob Morton, Ferrer was most recently a dirty Vice President in Iron Man 3.
Remember how arrogantly he and Captain Styles talk about how proud they are of the super-dumb Excelsior? Ferrer’s character in 1984’s Search for Spock may not have invented the Excelsior, but he already had a perchance for getting himself into trouble with too much technology. Too be fair, his product in RoboCop (RoboCop!) is more sound than the Excelsior, while the Excelsior is probably more like the ED-209 of the Star Trek universe.
The Guy Who Killed Alex Murphy Ran the Whole Federation! Or… Did He Try to Erase Captain Janeway From History?
I don’t care if you think of Kurtwood Smith as the dad from That 70’s Show, for me, he’ll always be the president of the United Federation of Planets who was supposedly not above the law and who Shatner had to jump on top of while Kim Cattrall watched.
But something is changing! I feel my memory changing. In fact, history might be changing, because I actually best remember Kurtwood Smith as the guy who tries to convince Chakotay and Tom Paris to erase stuff from history in the super-sweet Star Trek Voyager two-parter; “Year of Hell.” But wasn’t he also a Cardassian on Deep Space Nine? Is Kurtwood Smith being punished as he’s reincarnated throughout all of Star Trek for his murder of RoboCop? If he’d rocked those Eckleberg glasses in “Year of Hell,” you know you would have been more scared of him.
RoboCop Is Actually a Secret Jerk Who Tried to Take Over Starfleet, Twice!
The whole RoboCop phenomenon must be some sort of bizarro tide pool which sends casting inversion ripples out into the mainstream science fiction movie and TV universe. In the latest incarnation, normally nice guy Michael Keaton steps into a kind of combo bad guy role, a sort of mash-up between the Dick Jones/Bob Morton characters from the original film. But…this gets even weirder when you factor in Star Trek.
When he reincarnated on Star Trek, the heroic and tragic hero Alex Murphy did not appear as a wonderful fallen cyborg, but instead as a slimy backroom-deal villain who was manipulating various interests for his own grab at power. In the Enterprise episode “Terra Prime,” and last summer’s Star Trek Into Darkness, original RoboCop Alex Murphy (Peter Weller!) practically becomes the bad guys from RoboCop! Both Paxton on Enterprise and Admiral Marcus in Into Darkness are awful, awful people who outwardly have legitimate connections. Also, both wield significant super-weapons, the former a crazy death ray on Mars, and the latter a crazy death spaceship called the U.S.S. Killerprise Vengeance.
With two Star Trek appearances under this belt, maybe Peter Weller can return for a third? Star Trek: RoboBorg? Or mabye they could just make all of this easy and let Weller AND Shatner star in a movie called T.J. Lazer.
And just for kicks, Chris Pine can play the Wolf of StarFleet-style corporate bad guy.
Ryan Britt is a longtime contributor to Tor.com and is waiting for somebody to make the Wolf of StarFleet moving GIF or whatever you kids call that.