Humans are always looking for ways to improve upon the basics when it comes to technology. Advancements such as these are seen throughout history, from the first time a metal arrowhead was used, right up to modern air gun advancements (just check out the Daystate Pulsar PCP air rifle for an example of how far air guns have come).
But what about the wearable technology we see so often on the Silver Screen? Power armour and exoskeletons are a tradition in science fiction, enhancing the abilities of the wearer and making them a much more formidable force. Although these devices often have deep roots in military technology, we haven’t really seen too many coming to the forefront of reality.
The future of exoskeletons in real life look to be helping prevent workers from getting injured or helping the disabled to become more mobile again, as well as having some form of military adaptations. So, we got to thinking and decided to look at some of the most formidable suits of armour and exoskeletons from Hollywood, and who knows, maybe one day we’ll see something similar in reality!
Warning: A few choice words in the videos below!
Neill Blomkamp has been praised for his science fiction filmmaking, with his short films gaining quite the cult following. He has also produced some big films in Hollywood, with one of them being Elysium, fronted by Matt Damon.
Damon plays Max, who agrees to storm the film’s titular space station. He is outfitted with an exoskeleton for his troubles which is usually reserved for work, but Damon uses it to give himself an edge in combat; that is until he meets Kruger (Sharlto Copley) who has a more advanced version of his own.
There are plenty of negatives to this suit though, as it doesn’t offer much protection, offering a number of weak spots to strike at. Oh, and it’s drilled directly into the wearer’s bones, meaning it’s pretty painful to put on and not that easy to take off…
Doug Liman’s surprisingly good film was based on a screenplay adapted from the 2004 Japanese light novel ‘All You Need Is Kill’ by Hiroshi Sakurazaka, and features Cage (Tom Cruise) fighting off an alien invasion. The difference is, when he is killed, he repeats his day all over again – although no one else knows that he’s done it before.
The soldiers are armed with some pretty heavy-duty exoskeletons called Combat Jackets. These help the soldiers move faster and carry heavier weapons in the field. While they provide extra strength, some armour and the ability to wield more powerful weapons, they are just a bit short of being proper power armour. Plus, the head protection is just woeful!
The 2008 film ‘Iron Man’ kicked off the ever-growing Marvel cinematic universe, which saw Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr) captured in Afghanistan. He escapes by building a primitive (but effective) suit of armour from parts of the weapons that his own company had made.
Once he gets home, he refines the design, leading to a wide variety of suits used in multiple films, all of which serve different purposes. The suits are powered by an arc reactor which was initially embedded in Stark’s chest to keep shrapnel away from his heart and to keep him alive. This reactor allows the suits to fly, used hand-mounted repulsors, a chest beam and various other bells and whistles, all managed by the artificial intelligence JARVIS.
Although he has multiple versions of the suit, Stark is reluctant to lend his technology to the government, which has led to some rather large targets placed on him through the cinematic universe.
What is essentially a forklift converted into a wearable suit, the Caterpillar P-5000 Work Loader proves to be quite the formidable weapon in the right hands. Those hands just happen to be from Ridley (Sigourney Weaver) from James Cameron’s Aliens.
The iconic suit is designed to allow workers to quickly and easily move heavy cargo and pieces of equipment, which will no doubt be replicated in real life before too much longer… although we hope that they won’t need to be used in combat against the newest Disney Princess/Queen, the Xenomorph Queen.
These are just four of the formidable exo-suits from the world of film that you wouldn’t fancy coming across in real life! Which is your favourite? Let us know on our social media channels!
Photo courtesy of chris Doornbos on Flickr, under Creative Commons