A robot's technical qualities don't always determine the sum of its parts. It's not a heap of wires or a new-fanged weapon, or even superior programming, that determines a robot's worthiness as an on-screen object of obsession. A robot's "it" factor can be attributed to a more elusive quality, a certain je ne sais quoi similar to coolness but with a sharper edge: badassness. It may not be the most scientific term, but it's the difference between a robot whose sprockets (or cyborg limbs) are firmly cemented in sci-fi history and one who makes his way straight to the junkyard.
Atom, the pile of discarded metal Hugh Jackman trains to be a boxing 'bot in Real Steel (in theaters this weekend) is one such failed attempt. Atom shows promise, possessing the physicality of a true fighting machine, but the potential amounts to nothing but a high-tech pile of steel, a metal-mime with no intrigue inside of his impressively armored facade. Outside of Atom's standing as a heavyweight contender in the ring, it's clear this one-trick robot is all brawn with no real bite.
While Jackman's pal's ultimate fate in robot history is still undetermined, one thing is already clear: There are a number of robots, whether with their admirable attitude or damage-inducing demeanor, who undoubtedly kick far more ass. Atom could possibly win the metal-crushing battle; these science fiction soldiers, a.k.a. the 13 Robots More Badass Than The 'Bots In Real Steel, are bad enough to win the war.