The Year We Love Robots: Disney’s Greatest Metal Hits
So, it seems that we have lost the Mars Rover Opportunity, whose batteries have run down on Mars. NASA has declared her dead. The United States has mourned, and I hope that we can save Oppy.
We have an interesting relationship with robots in fiction. Disney is one of the few places where the robots rarely go evil, unless people make them turn evil. We have some really cuddly ones that gain sentience, and marvel at the world.
Wall-E from his titular movie is the cute robot that won our hearts. The last of his garbage-cleaning kind to organize the rubbish on Earth, after all the wealthy humans leave, Wall-E spends his days collecting odd trinkets and watching a VCR of Hello Dolly.
I was going “aww” nearly every five minutes watching this film. Wall-E’s sincerity is a happy glitch, that allows him to fight against a computer programmed to keep the humans safe if not happy.
Dum-E and JARVIS from the Marvel Cinematic Universe
These two are Tony Stark’s children, practically. He built Dum-E as a child, and the robot is loyal to him. No matter how many times Dum-E sprays him with fire extinguishing foam, or how many times JARVIS snarks like a boss, Tony holds onto them.
What makes Dum-E endearing is that, when the chips are down, he has Tony’s back. He hands Tony the arc reactor that saves his life, and helps when the latter makes a new element.
JARVIS was made to honor the man that raised Tony, his family’s butler Edwin Jarvis. A man who was loyal to Howard, he nevertheless wasn’t blind to the man’s neglectful attitude towards young Tony, and did his best to steer the child down the right path. While it didn’t work — Tony became a reckless alcoholic to deal with his parents’ death and burden of genius — the younger Stark never forgot the butler who was a better father. JARVIS, the AI that Tony creates, looks out for Tony and eventually becomes the hero Vision.
Baymax is a given. He’s built to help people, and was made as the best doctor we could have without health insurance. Tadashi Himada wanted to make the world better, and Baymax is his legacy.
Baymax also believes in mental health. He uploads therapy modules when Hiro needs them, and tries to talk through problems. When Hiro says catching Tadashi’s killer would make him feel better, Baymax complies but draws the line when Hiro tries to use the robot to murder instead of capture.
I was considering adding R2-D2 and C3-PO, but they weren’t made when Disney acquired Star Wars. BB-8 is one of the best parts of the new trilogy, and makes up for the changes made in The Last Jedi when he commandeers a First Order kill bot and lays ravage to the Stormtroopers. You do not want to mess with the orange droid.
BB-8 is the droid you want for a mission. He communicates his intentions clearly, with fire and beeps as Finn found out the hard way. The droid can think, and he has loyalty. He also is an utter sweetheart when he bonds with people.
Goldie from Gravity Falls
Goldie is a panhandling miner robot that Grunkle Stan keeps because they’re both old “has-beens,” in Stan’s word. You can feed Goldie a nickel, and his metal eyeballs will pop out with gushing oil. As Wendy snarkily puts it, “his face reminds everyone of the inevitability of death.”
We aren’t sure if Goldie is sentient or not. On one hand, he seems to bite anything that comes into contact with his mouth. On the other, he cries oil when Stan decides to toss him in the garbage and replace him, and he bites down on a robotic badger that guns for Stan. Stan is so grateful that they even get married in Vegas after gambling the night away. As of the show’s end, they are still married.
Who are your favorite Disney robots?