Essays · Movies

Fan Theory Friday: Is RoboCop American Jesus???

By  · Published on March 24th, 2017

Finally, a religion we can all get behind.

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: a good man just trying to introduce order to a chaotic world is wrongfully, violently, and publicly executed just for being who he is, only to return from the dead a few days later stronger, smarter, more capable than ever before, and practically immortal; he then uses this newfound power to “save” humanity from itself by separating the righteous from the wicked.

Likely you stopped me a line or two in because of course this sounds familiar, it’s perhaps the most told story in the history of the world: the Christ story. Only, I wasn’t describing the most-definitely-not-white Christian savior, I was describing Detroit Police Sergeant Alex Murphy, better known to you as RoboCop.

Which one is which?

If you think about it – and lots of people have for a while now – their stories are pretty parallel, minus the explicit and gratuitous violence of RoboCop; the Bible gets all that out of the way in the Old Testament, or what we’d call a prequel.

But seriously, both men are a part of an organization bound to serve and protect, both are betrayed – Murphy in a sense by OCP’s mishandling of the department and their flagrant disregard for human life, preferring mechanized officers, and Jesus by Judas, of course – and as a result both men are killed in disturbing fashion accompanied by unimaginable suffering. After some tinkering by heretofore unknown powers that seemingly exceed the scope of man, both are resurrected from the dead and empowered in a superhuman fashion. Using this newfound omnipotence, both “men” confront the masses and confirm them to their way of thinking, albeit by drastically different means.

At least two key moments in the film would seem to support this allegory, starting with the execution of Murphy. The first shot takes off his right hand, which is spread open palm out, just as Christ’s was when nailed to the cross. Think of this scene as like the worst stigmata ever. And of course, Jesus is said to sit at the right hand of God. Then there’s the scene near the end of the film when Murphy, now RoboCop, strides across a pool of shallow water, looking as though he’s walking atop its surface like a certain Messiah was known to do.

Furthermore, RoboCop operates based on “Prime Directives,” or commandments that dictate his behavior, and he fulfills them without question, almost as though he has unwavering faith in them.

Then there’s this:

I don’t know about you, but that sure as shit sounds to me like something Jesus would have on a bumper sticker.

And of course there’s the film’s director, Verhoeven, who not only wrote a book about Jesus, he also confirmed this theory in an interview with MTV News back in 2010:

“The point of Robocop, of course, is it is a Christ story. It is about a guy that gets crucified after 50 minutes, then is resurrected in the next 50 minutes and then is like the super-cop of the world, but is also a Jesus figure as he walks over water at the end.”

In the same interview Verhoeven also refers to RoboCop (the machine, not the film) as “American Jesus.” Good enough for me.

Verdict: this one’s true as hell, which is where we’re all going after all this. If you believe in that sort of thing.

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Many, many sources contributed to this article.

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