Wow, Mr. Stark, you're such an innovator. Wounded and held hostage (with a makeshift electromagnet stuck in your chest), you take a couple of sardine cans and a used vacuum cleaner and build battle armor to get out of your predicament. A couple of revisions later, and you're now Iron Man, a metal hero the likes of which humanity has never seen.
Problem is, you ain't so original. In fact, the world is so overrun with shiny, clanking people that we had no problem working up a list of 10 others who have opted for the alloy life. Better equip your elbows with a set of battering rams, Stark. It's getting kinda crowded around here.
10. The Silver Surfer (2007's Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer)
Oooooo, pretty! You know, if the planet has to be ravaged in preparation for consumption by a ravenous, sentient cloud, who wouldn't want it to be done by a gleaming, chromium, righteously awesome master of the board? The Silver Surfer's (Doug Jones
) got the looks and the moves. Meanwhile, all we've got is rubber guy (Ioan Gruffudd
), inviso-girl (Jessica Alba
), hot kid (Chris Evans
), and some yutz with a skin condition (Michael Chiklis
). Somehow, that doesn't feel anywhere close to a fair match.
9. The Iron Man (1989's Tetsuo: The Iron Man)
Not Tony Stark this time, sorry. In Shinya Tsukamoto
's dumpster-chic horror film, a common salaryman (Tomorowo Taguchi
) begins manifesting the detritus of modern society, turning into a virtual scrapheap of aluminum foil, corrugated piping, and assorted industrial fixtures. This, naturally, is not optimal: Not only does the metamorphosis totally disrupt the guy's morning commute, but the new physique really puts a crimp in his social life. Face it, when your junk is literally junk, you're not scoring anytime soon.
8. The Borg (1996's Star Trek: First Contact)
Of course, if you want to talk recycling, there's no better practitioners than the Borg. Doesn't matter what brand of lifeform it is, doesn't even matter if said lifeform's original occupant isn't quite through with the body yet, the Borg can snag it, strip it down, encrust it in hardware, and have it jacked into the collective in less time than it takes for Maaco to smooth out a dented fender. Go ahead, ask Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart
) how efficient these retro-fitters are. Just be sure you've brushed up on your Vulcan nerve-pinch for when he starts to lay into you.
7. Battle Juni (2003's Spy Kids 3-D: Game Over)
Remember when you were 11 and in the car with your dad and you said, "Can I drive?" and he didn't even take a nanosecond to say, "No?" The man knew best: Some kids really shouldn't be fooling around with heavy machinery, not at least without obtaining a handy first aid kit and some really comprehensive insurance. Somebody should've told intrepid agent Juni (Daryl Sabara
) that before he stepped into the robot arena to face off against seasoned gladiator Demetra (Courtney Jines
) — you really need a learner's permit before trying to pilot a full-fledged battle-bot. Kid should be thankful that this particular model isn't stick shift, to boot.
6. The Iron Giant (1999's The Iron Giant)
Can cute and cuddly be four-stories tall? This towering visitor from outer space (voiced by Vin Diesel
) has a body from a foundry and the soul of a puppy dog. He's also got enough armaments to explode a planet, which kind of counterbalances that whole adorable thing. Fortunately, he falls to Earth in the '50s, when superheroes were still role-models, and the kids who believed in them could pass their moral lessons on to those most in need. We're talking the big robot, here — the government guys are on their own.
5. Tenacious D (2006's Tenacious D in: The Pick of Destiny)
Here they are, bow down before them. Others are posers. There is but one band born of flame, weaned in Hell, raised to the hallowed wail of Robert Plant
, and ready to reign: The one, the only, the holy Tenacious D (Jack Black
and Kyle Gass
)! Truly, they are the very Soul of Metal and they... sorry, we can't keep this up. Satan weeps at puns.
4. The Black Knight (1975's Monty Python and the Holy Grail)
Yeah, the Black Knight (John Cleese
) is badass. He knows his way around a longsword, doesn't flinch in battle, and that armor is pretty damn fearsome. Too bad he's kinda stupid (mister, that's King Arthur (Graham Chapman
) you're talking to). And sorta stubborn (it's a bridge over a stream, Einstein — the nation ain't gonna fall if you show some flexibility). And he's only got one arm. Make that no arms. Well, he's standing on just one leg. Ahhhh, skip it. (Oh, can't do that, either.)
3. Murphy (1987's Robocop)
Looks like somebody in corporate had the bright idea of turning the thin blue line into the thin stainless steel line. They would have done well, though, to consider the human element when they decided to plunk Alex Murphy's (Peter Weller
) brain into the walking, heavily armed fortress that is RoboCop. So long as the droid adheres to its criminal code program (enhanced with a few, business-friendly directives), things go fine. However, once inconvenient glitches such as emotions and memory come into play, not even the key to the executive washroom is going to grant the guilty escape from true justice.
2. C-3PO (1977's Star Wars)
C-3PO's (Anthony Daniels
) the fussy one, isn't he? Protocols and priorities, that's what gets him going. Too bad he's fallen in with a group of rebels for whom the prime, functional phrases are "makeshift" and "I don't care how you get it done, you half-witted nerf-herder, just do it now!" But that's the price a droid pays for freeing the universe — those wanting neat 'n' pretty should stick with the Empire. (Not really.)
1. T-800 & T-1000 (1991's Terminator 2: Judgment Day)
You want to double-up on your metal monsters? Take your pick: the T-800 (Arnold Schwarzenegger
), with its chrome endoskeleton covered in a convincing, flesh-like sheath, or the T-1000 (Robert Patrick
), the latest in mimetic-alloy (read: shape-shifting) killing machines. The differences, once you strip away the T-1000's morphing ability, are pretty much incremental: The Schwarzenbot is indomitable; the Patrickdroid is, uh, indomitabler. Prime distinction boils down to a simple question of survival: You should never find yourself alone with the T-1000, and should always go with the T-800 if you want to live.