THE FILMS THAT INTRODUCED CYBORGS INTO OUR LIVES

Film as a medium has always been visionary when it comes to anticipating futuristic concepts that will become normalised as time goes by. But, concerning cyborgs, it turns out that movies with half cybernetic characters have already existed for more than half a century. And some of those characters are so ingrained in our collective memory that we can’t even exactly remember what cyborgs are.

Nowadays, we all know what a cyborg is. But, wait, do we really know what it is? Because one thing’s certain, that the terminology from the robotic era has become so complex that, sometimes, it’s hard to tell what the difference between a robot and a cyborg is, or between that of synthetic intelligence and a biohacker. And so, it’s best to start from the beginning: a cyborg is a being that combines cybernetic and organic parts. That’s where the name comes from: it’s the sum of ‘cybernetic’ and ‘organic’.

And, in fact, as is usually the case with new concepts, films were one of the necessary agents when it came to familiarising ourselves with cyborgs. As we all know: movies are that kind of hypodermic needles that act as a way for people to accept what the future will look like much before it happens. In the case of what’s a cyborg, as surprising as it may sound, it turns out that there are examples in film of these kinds of cybernetic organisms for more than half a century ago.

Because it might be that, in the end, the year 2001 has absolutely nothing to do with what Stanley Kubrick had imagined (and, in fact, it was less futuristic than what we would have wished for). But the next five movies that we’ll discuss below talked about cyborgs way before you even knew what a cyborg was.

DR. NO (1962).  Is Dr. No the first cyborg in film history? Probably not, but he is the first cinematographic cyborg to transcend into pop culture. Note that its cybernetic aspect couldn’t be more basic: he simply has robotic hands. But this was already a huge revolution in 1962.

STAR WARS (1977). The Darth Vader character is so consolidated into our collective imagery that, at times, we forget that he’s a cyborg in the book. A battered and reconstructed human being with several cybernetic parts between which his artificial respiration will always be remembered as a purely iconic cinematographic sound.

ROBOCOP (1987) . The definitive cyborg: a policeman who’s about to die and whose body becomes a machine owned by the law. What’s interesting about Robocop’s case, as it is an eighties movie, is that they dared to find the dark side of the moral that comes with all cybernetic reconversions.

CYBORG (1989).  How could a movie that’s actually called Cyborg not appear in this list? And one that, funnily enough, none other than Jean-Claude Van Damme played the leading role? And whose argument is so cliché that it stars a female cyborg called Pearl who’s the only being who can save humanity from the Apocalypse?

IRON MAN (2008). Marvel’s superhero universe is full of cyborgs… But none is as beloved by fans as Iron Man. Could it be for the energy nucleus he has that prevents him from dying (the dream of any human being?) or could it be for his countless undeniably fresh cybernetic suits? For whatever reason it may be, still, we want to know: where do we sign to turn Iron Man into the first Cyborg President in humanity?