Cyborgs in Science Fiction Movies

Cyborgs have long since left the shores of the science fiction land to become part of our daily lives. They walk among us. How do I know? I became one myself for a while a few years ago. No fancy implants, I'm afraid.

A bit of surgery here, a bit of surgery there. Let's just say, in order to keep the Grim Reaper at bay, they had to replace a few parts of my body which went out of whack with some gizmos, at least they looked distinctly gizmo-like to me (too much SF movies, some might say; but it helped to think of what was happening to me as part of something familiar).

Even now years later, my voice still sounds a little bit strange, and my body looks a tad different, but I feel the same. A religious man might say I've been given a second chance, but an SF buff like myself would simply say that I've been rebooted. I guess that explains part of my long-standing fascination with cyborgs, especially the ones in SF movies. I am, after all, looking out for my upgraded tribe.

To put it simply, cyborg is short for cybernetic organism.

It has flesh and blood delicately blended with mechanical parts in such a way that they cannot be easily separated. The mechanical parts cannot be removed without damaging the organism as a whole.

Often put beside robots and androids, cyborgs are actually a category in itself. They stand somewhere between robots and living beings, usually exceeding both, but they (in most cases) still belong to the species they originated from.

It is not enough to declare you are a cybernetic organism to be one. Terminator bleeds and sweats, but his skin is just that, a skin, a cover. It can be detached from rest of it. The remaining naked truth is an android which can function perfectly by itself.

When I started putting together the list I was surprised to find out that I had overlooked some of them because they had not felt or looked like cyborgs. They were people with feelings and thoughts and issues.

The only difference was that they had some kind of an enhancement, which, in my view, does not classify them as another species. For all their implants, they were still very much human.

By the way, there are also cyborgs who belong to another species.

Alien, animal and non-humanoid. They all, in their living tissues, have a DNA different from ours.

As a matter of fact, animal and non-humanoid ones were not easy to find but here is what I got.

Technology, bio-chips and implants, programmable and robotic parts all make an integral part of the intriguing and sometimes frightening cyborg world. Most of these enhancements usually come in handy, but they also present a source of conflict, anxiety and identity crisis.

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SF Movies traditionally explore the gray areas. What is more elusive and hard to define than beings part human part machine?

If you put metal parts into a man does he stop being a man? And how much metal can you put into a man before he does?

What about God? The man was created in God's image, or so the Bible teaches. If you make him in another form, do you improve on God's work, or defile it? And what concept of God will such a creature worship?

What about soul? A man with a pacemaker surely has lost nothing of his humanity. But a man with an artificial skin, bones, vision, someone who can punch through walls or leap as high as clouds? What is his definition of SELF? Does he still have a soul, or can a robot with a beating heart ever gain one?

These science fiction movies also show us how people can be raised from the dead, or how through the use of the artificial body parts and computer technology cyborgs can be built from scratch in a scientific lab.

Science fiction movies also tell the stories of people who use by choice some kind of an implant. Of course, there is always an extra kick if it turns out that they walk around carrying an implant in their bodies without knowing about it.

So here they are:

  • Lucas Martino (Who?, 1973)
  • Darth Vader, Luke Skywalker, General Grievous (Star Wars universe)
  • Mandroid (Eliminators, 1986)
  • Robocop (Robocop, 1987)
  • Mr. Igoe (Innerspace, 1987)
  • Pearl Prophet (Cyborg, 1989)
  • Luc Deveraux / GR44... (Universal Soldier, 1992)
  • Major Motoko Kusanagi (Ghost in the Shell, 1995)
  • Mean (Judge Dredd, 1995)
  • Johnny, Street Preacher, Jones (Johnny Mnemonic, 1995)
  • Lt. Parker Barnes (Virtuosity, 1995)
  • Macanudo (Space Truckers, 1996)
  • Lt. Commander Geordi La Forge, Borg (Star trek universe)
  • Neo, Trinity... (Matrix, 1999)
  • Andrew (Bicentenial man, 1999)
  • Allegra Geller, Ted Pikul (eXistenZ, 1999)
  • Dr. Arliss Loveless (Wild Wild West, 1999)
  • Del Spooner (I, robot, 2004)
  • Most everybody in the movie (The Final Cut, 2004)
  • Marcus Wright (Terminator Salvation, 2009)

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