To harness and increase the power of human movement has been one of the great aspirations of sci-fi film makers. Here’s a look at a few of their attempts…
Elysium, currently in cinemas, gives Matt Damon a rudimentary suit to increase his strength and power against killer robots. While it evens the odds slightly, it doesn’t appear to have much of an effect on his abilities. Perhaps this is a more accurate imagining of the technology, but it’s not as cool as the rest of our list.
The seminal example of the power enhancement suit is 1986’s Aliens, where cinema’s greatest action heroine, Ellen Ripley, donned a remarkable yellow load lifting “exosuit” to even the odds in hand-to-hand combat with the alien queen. The effects used to create the suit have stood the test of time and remain in the “how did they do that?” category. It makes for an impressive ending to a great film, but more importantly it allowed for this awesome parent/baby Halloween costume.
The Matrix Reloaded/Revolutions
A few years down the line and the power of CGI enabled bigger, more flexible movement enhancement suits. The Matrix Reloaded introduced us to APUs (Armoured Personnel Units) in which the pilot is seated and controls two massive guns like a huge, robotic Clint Eastwood. I’ve never been able to work out why a suit designed for combat would give no protection to the pilot whatsoever, and I’m not the only one. The machines realised too, with disastrous effects for Captain Mifune’s face in the huge APU battle of The Matrix Revolutions.
Neill Blomkamp’s basic strength-enhancing suit of Elysium is nothing compared to the one Wikus dons in 2009’s District 9. It’s of wholly alien design, being created by the mysterious “prawns” who hover over Johannesburg. Attuned to the DNA of the creatures, Wikus is only able to pilot one after he becomes part prawn himself following a horrible accident involving some black liquid. This is probably the most powerful suit on our list too, or would be if Wikus could work out the controls.
2009 gave us another great suit when James Cameron updated the idea for Avatar. The “amp suit” of this film has the greatest dexterity on the list, able to grip and wield a gun or a knife, and even point if the pilot does. It’s basically the APU from the Matrix if the Wachowskis had stopped and thought about what a suit like this might actually need to do. Its makers even had the good sense to put armour on it.
Can you think of any more suits like these? Comment below.