How do you improve upon perfection? You don’t, which is why all attempts to recapture the glory of 1987’s futuristic thriller RoboCop have ranged from so-so (its 1990 sequel) to inexplicably uninspired (the 2014 reboot that wasn’t even rated R). But maybe the 10th or so time is the charm: According to /Film, MGM is working on a prequel series — and since RoboCop was an origin story, that means it’ll be the first RoboCop content sans RoboCop himself.
The news came from Ed Neumeier, who wrote the original as well as Starship Troopers, another proudly satirical blockbuster from RoboCop director Paul Verhoeven. Neumeier’s been teasing a new sequel, RoboCop Returns — which would do the fashionable thing and be a direct sequel to the first one, ignoring all others — for a couple years now, but he said a prequel show is also in the works. Mind you, it won’t focus on Peter Wellers’ Alex Murphy, the everyday Detroit cop killed by a gang with corporate ties. Instead it will zero in on Dick Jones, the crooked big wig played by Ronny Cox who funded said gang, and effectively became our android hero’s final boss.
Is it weird to have a RoboCop without RoboCop? Sure. But the RoboCop world is a rich one, with its thinly veiled attacks on late capitalism run amok via a giant corporation, OCP, that steps into “save” an ailing city (by building luxury apartments and kicking out the poor with ramped-up local police, which they also own). And Neumeier — who’s also overseen numerous Starship Troopers sequels, which took that franchise in fresh directions — thinks it’s a sharp idea.
“It has all the cool stuff about RoboCop except no RoboCop,” Neumeier said. “I’m working with these two writers, Dave Parkin and Rob Gibbs, who bought this idea to a TV producer friend of mine, who then brought it to me. The first time I heard it I knew it was a cool idea because I could see a lot of things you could do with it. It’s such an interesting character.”
Neumeier adds that “nobody necessarily starts out being the bad guy,” implying that Dick Jones will be an antihero along the lines of a Walter White or even a Michael Corleone, eroding over the long haul. Indeed, he says it will “be about the evolution of Richard Jones to Dick Jones, the story of OCP and how the world moves into the future, how the corporate world behaves.”
Actually, losing RoboCop but gaining a no doubt savage look at corporate culture at this time in history doesn’t sound like the worst idea in the world.