RoboCop first hit screens in 1987, blowing audiences away with its pitch-perfect blend of high-octane action, futuristic spectacle, and razor-sharp satire of 80s corporate culture. Three years later, the Future of Law Enforcement returned to screens in RoboCop 2 – and while this didn’t prove quite so successful as its predecessor, it’s still an enjoyable sci-fi action thriller with a darkly comedic twist.
Did you know the following fascinating facts about the 1990 RoboCop sequel?
20. RoboCop appeared at a WCW Wrestling event to promote the film
In the run-up to RoboCop 2’s US cinema release in June 1990, RoboCop appeared at Capital Combat.
This was a pay-per-view event held by WCW (World Championship Wrestling) at the D.C. Armory in Washington D.C.
RoboCop swooped in to save the singer Sting from The Four Horsemen, a professional wresting team.
It was hoped this event would both help promote the movie, and boost ratings for the ailing rival of the WWF (now known as WWE).
In fact, the event went down badly with fans of both franchises, the wrestling audience in particular.
Believe it or not, the degree to which professional wrestling is fictionalised wasn’t entirely common knowledge at the time.
19. Tim Hunter was originally going to direct it
When RoboCop 2 entered production, RoboCop director Paul Verhoeven had moved on to make Total Recall.
This classic Schwarzenegger movie enjoyed a budget of $50-60 million, making it one of the most expensive films of the era.
Meanwhile, with half of Total Recall’s budget, the RoboCop studio Orion Pictures was frantically searching for a new director.
The filmmakers originally earmarked Tim Hunter, who had directed the acclaimed 1986 drama River’s Edge (which gave an early role to Keanu Reeves).
However, Hunter wound up quitting RoboCop 2 during pre-production over “creative differences” with the sequel’s producers.
He abandoned the project barely a week before it was scheduled to start filming. Irvin Kershner took over at short notice, despite the fact he hadn’t directed a movie in seven years.
18. Frank Miller’s original script was deemed ‘unfilmable’
The original script for RoboCop 2 was written by Frank Miller, who had risen to fame in the 80s as a comic book artist.
He was the writer behind the graphic novels Batman: Year One and The Dark Knight Returns.
Years later, Miller would co-direct two movies based on his comic book series Sin City.
However, the producers dubbed Miller’s dark, lengthy and complex script ‘unfilmable’ and proceeded to have it extensively rewritten by Walon Green.
Elements of its plot (notably Japanese cyborg mercenaries) would resurface in RoboCop 3.
Then, in 2003, Miller’s original RoboCop 2 script was adapted into the comic book series Frank Miller’s RoboCop.
17. It was the last feature film Irvin Kershner ever directed
When Tim Hunter left RoboCop 2, Orion Pictures hired Irvin Kershner to direct at the last minute.
This was considered a very big deal, as Kershner had previously directed the film many people consider the best sequel ever made: The Empire Strikes Back.
Kershner was also famous for directing Hoodlum Priest, Never Say Never Again and Eyes of Laura Mars.
In a 2020 interview with SciFi Now, RoboCop 2’s cinematographer Mark Irwin recalled Kershner’s determination and passion: “Irvin Kershner wasn’t afraid of the rules.”
“The schedule was ambitious,” he noted, “and then to add to that Kersh was in a lot of pain with gout so basically there was a lot of yelling!”
After RoboCop 2, Kershner’s only subsequent directing credit was an episode of TV’s Seaquest DSV. He passed away in 2010.
16. It had the second-highest movie body count of 1990
Much like its predecessor, RoboCop 2 is quite the shoot-’em-up, and racks up a whole lot of bodies by the final reel.
In this vision of Detroit on the verge of a takeover, about 58 characters die on-screen.
Only 13 of these deaths are actually caused by RoboCop himself, with many of the killings carried out by the evil Cain and his criminal accomplices.
This stands in stark contrast to RoboCop 3, where RoboCop kills a total of 25 people.
Despite RoboCop 2’s violent battles, however, this was only the second-highest movie body count of that year.
It was comfortably beaten by Die Hard 2: Die Harder, in which 162 people are killed off.
15. The ‘Thank You For Not Smoking’ scene was used as a PSA in US cinemas
RoboCop 2 sends up the rise of political correctness and health consciousness in the late 80s.
The title character is reprogrammed to be more sensitive and caring. However, RoboCop remains zero tolerance when it comes to smoking.
This is demonstrated when he terrifies a smoker into spitting out his cigarette with a barrage of gunfire.
This scene was shown before movies in the US that year, at a time when there was a movement towards banning smoking in cinemas.
This teaser trailer helped to attract huge audiences for RoboCop 2’s opening weekend, when it became the second highest-grossing film at the box office.
In total, RoboCop 2 proved to be a blockbuster, earning $45.7 million at the US box office – almost double its production budget.
14. The filmmakers cut a lot of grisly footage to avoid an X-rating
As originally shot, RoboCop 2 featured a lot more extreme content than the final cut.
The filmmakers removed most of this material themselves, as they were contracted to deliver an R-rated film.
They recognised that certain gory scenes were likely to push that rating into the X category.
Despite this, RoboCop 2 still wound up being cut further in some territories, notably the United Kingdom.
The British Board of Film Classification wouldn’t give it an 18 rating until several seconds of particularly violent footage was removed.
This included scenes where Officer Duffy was tortured and killed, and his body parts were scattered.
13. It successfully predicted Detroit falling into bankruptcy
The RoboCop movies take place in Old Detroit, a city falling apart in the face of spiralling debt, corruption and crime.
Its citizens are plagued by the widespread use of a new designer drug named Nuke, controlled by the cartel leader Cain.
The corporation OCP is preparing to tear it all down and build a new metropolis, Delta City, where Detroit once stood.
To plunge the city into further despair, OCP cuts police salaries until the entire police force goes on strike.
But RoboCop 2 made one very specific and surprisingly accurate prediction: Detroit filing for bankruptcy.
This happened for real in 2013 with the city collapsing under a debt of almost $20 billion. (Delta City still hasn’t been built in its place, though.)
12. Original RoboCop stars Peter Weller and Nancy Allen didn’t enjoy the sequel
Both Peter Weller and Nancy Allen reprised their respective roles of RoboCop/Murphy and Lewis.
But neither actor was enamoured with the final film, nor did they enjoy making it.
Weller would not play the role again, citing both dissatisfaction with the material and exhaustion from wearing the suit.
Nancy Allen stated years later that she had hated working with Irvin Kershner, and she only agreed to appear in RoboCop 3 on the condition that her character was killed off early on.
“Robocop 2 was the worst experience of my life,” she said in a 2014 interview with Syfy.
“Irvin Kershner didn’t like me, and he made that apparent, moment by moment, day by day,” she recalled. “It was torture.”
11. A discarded RoboCop 2 script is set to be the basis of the upcoming RoboCop Returns
Early on in RoboCop 2’s development, original RoboCop writers Edward Neumeier and Michael Miner pitched a bold sequel.
Entitled RoboCop: Corporate Wars, it would have seen the title character destroyed, then resurrected even further into the future.
Orion Pictures ultimately decided this wasn’t a route they wanted to take, and instead picked Frank Dekker as the writer and director of Robocop 3.
RoboCop 3 became the lowest-grossing movie in the entire franchise, and it received overwhelmingly negative critical reviews.
However, the premise for RoboCop: Corporate Wars is said to serve the basis for the in-development movie RoboCop Returns.
This semi-reboot poised to be directed by Abe Forsythe, although its production has been delayed because of the current global health crisis.
10. The Nuke plant was filmed in a Budweiser brewery
Despite being set in the near-future dystopian city of Detroit, most of RoboCop 2 was filmed in Houston, Texas.
In the movie’s finale, as RoboCop and Cain meet for their last battle, you can spot the city’s theatre district and Alley Theatre.
The headquarters of Omni Consumer Products was created in the Cullen Centre, while Mayor Kuzak’s speech takes place in Houston City Hall.
More unusual, however, were the sites chosen to create the film’s notorious Nuke factory, where a designer drug is manufactured.
The Budweiser brewery on Main Street became part of the villains’ lair, and is the site of the shoot-out scenes.
More footage for the Nuke factory was filmed in the disused Hiram Clarke Power Plant in Houston.
9. The director Kershner has a criminal cameo
As the scientist Dr Faxx is searching for a human to take the new form of RoboCop, she browses images of death row inmates.
One image she leaves up for consideration is an elderly bearded man, stamped with the name “Gerber”.
This unwitting subject was actually a plain, unedited photo of the director himself, Irvin Kershner.
This wasn’t the only major cameo in RoboCop 2, with screenwriter Frank Miller taking up a more significant acting role.
He plays “Frank the Chemist”, who helps to produce the drug Nuke under the direction of Cain.
Frank perishes in the police raid towards the end of the film, as his trailer and laboratory are blown up.
8. Toilet fixtures and welders were used as high-tech props
For some of the more obscure technology seen in the film, the RoboCops 2 prop department had to resort to disguising everyday items.
When RoboCop is being programmed with new directives at the police station, he is plugged into the computer via a cable that enters his head.
In reality, the cable was a water coupling, taken from a simple toilet plumbing mechanism.
During RoboCop’s final showdown with the revived Cain, Cain slices into RoboCop’s helmet with a power tool.
This was actually a spot welder, which would ordinarily be used while manufacturing a car.
Likewise, the vials of Nuke were actually red dye mixed with saline re-moisturizer, which is designed to protect contact lenses.
7. Patricia Charbonneau’s part was originally written for a man
Linda Garcia is a lab technician who works on RoboCop for OCP at the North Metro precinct.
Although she’s a fairly important supporting character, Garcia isn’t actually credited. She was also reportedly written as a male character in the original script.
Despite her considerable dialogue, no character ever says Linda Garcia’s name aloud in the movie.
It’s only thanks to her laboratory nametag, as well as the novel of RoboCop 2 which came out after the movie, that we know her full name.
This character was played by Patricia Charbonneau, who won fame in the 1985 romantic drama River Hearts.
She also starred in the psychological horror movie Brain Dead in the same year as RoboCop, playing Dana Martin.
6. There’s a compliment to RoboCop’s Special Effects Photographer coded into the movie
RoboCop 2 sees a whole host of technology flashing by, with many intricate details of futuristic coding and computers.
In one scene, RoboCop is being reprogrammed by Dr Faxx, who in turn is in cahoots with the power-hungry organisation OCP.
As she reads through his coding, this hex sequence pops up: “50 45 54 45 20 4B 55 52 41 4E 20 49 53 20 41 20 47 52 45 41 54 20 47 55 59”.
If you convert these numbers to ASCII text, they spell out a message: “PETE KURAN IS A GREAT GUY”.
Pete Kuran was RoboCop 2’s special effects photographer. His effects in this movie were nominated for a Saturn Award.
Kuran has also worked on the first and third RoboCop movies, Honey I Shrunk the Kids and three Star Wars films.
5. RoboCop’s new directives include “Avoid Orion Meetings” and “Talk Things Out”
To scramble RoboCop’s programming and prevent him from protecting the city, Dr Faxx feeds the android a series of new directives.
RoboCop also receives directives that are intended to make him less hostile to human life.
These include such instructions as “Promote pro-social values”, “Pool opinions before expressing yourself” and “Avoid interpersonal conflicts.”
His more obscure orders include Directives 247 and 250: “Don’t run through puddles and splash pedestrians or other cars” and “Don’t walk across a ballroom floor swinging your arms.”
The producers snuck an inside joke into RoboCop’s new rules, too: “Avoid Orion meetings.”
This is a cheeky reference to the studio that would distribute RoboCop 2, Orion Pictures.
4. The Angie actress terrified producers by twisting her neck at a “broken” angle
Cain’s love interest, Angie, dies when he is revived as RoboCop 2 and snaps her neck in a fit of rage.
Angie’s actress, Galyn Görg, put on such a convincing performance that the producers worried she had seriously injured herself.
In particular, they were spooked when she was able to fall with her head twisted at a seemingly impossible angle.
Görg later recalled: “When Mr. Kershner explained to me the blocking of the scene and how he would like it to be played out, I volunteered to do my own stunt.”
“As a flexible and agile dancer, I was used to doing dance choreography where jumping, sliding, and falling to the ground where normal,” she explained.
“I was somewhat sore by the time we finally achieved the take Kershner was happy with,” she remembered. “The scene is quite impactful and disturbing. My family and friends do not like it at all!”
3. It spawned a novel and a Marvel series
RoboCop 2 is an unusual movie in that it spawned a novelisation, rather than being based on any written fiction.
This paperback version was written by Ed Naha, and was simply entitled RoboCop 2: A Novel.
Marvel Comics was also keen to capitalise on the RoboCop franchise’s success, promptly producing a comic book series split into three parts.
Meanwhile, Frank Miller took his rejected first script for RoboCop 2 and transformed it into his own nine-part comic book series.
Miller’s series met with a mixed critical response, with many noting that it just wasn’t interesting enough.
In particular, the website I-Mockery issued a damning verdict of the series: “It makes me want to watch the movie version of RoboCop 2 again just so I can get the bad taste out of my mouth. Or prove to myself that the movie couldn’t be worse than this.”
2. The RoboCop costume was made from fibreglass
Fibreglass may seem like a strange choice of material for a metallic costume, but it actually suited the crew perfectly.
Not only was it more flexible and lightweight than the metal options, it also helped to protect the stunt performers during some of the more dangerous takes.
Between the first three films, different aspects of the RoboCop suit were swapped in and out. It also changed colour from grey to a slight blue in the second film.
The first movie’s RoboCop suit contained so much foam rubber, it was difficult for Peter Weller to catch anything in his hands. When a pair of car keys was tossed towards him, it bounced off.
Sony’s 2014 remake of RoboCop took the futuristic technology a step further, as RoboCop’s costume was created through 3D printing.
The upcoming reboot, on the other hand, will once again feature the original RoboCop suit from the first movie, according to the director Neil Blomkamp.
1. Critic Roger Ebert said the child character Hob was “beneath contempt”
This sequel introduces Hob, a foul-mouthed tween who has no hesitation in committing murders on behalf of his boss, Cain.
He was played by the 14-year-old Gabriel Damon, who joined the crew after starring in the far more child-friendly film The Land Before Time.
The character of Hob shocked many cinema-goers, among them Roger Ebert, critic for the Chicago Sun-Times.
“The use of that killer child is beneath contempt,” Ebert wrote. “[He] looks to be about 12 years old but kills people without remorse, swears like Eddie Murphy, and eventually takes over the drug business.”
“I hesitate to suggest the vicious little tyke has been shoehorned into this R-rated movie so that the kiddies will have someone to identify with when they see it on video, but stranger things have happened,” he noted.
However, Ebert praised the film for its jokes, concluding, “I’ve gotta hand it to them: It’s strange how funny it is, for a movie so bad. Or how bad, for a movie so funny.”