There are no plans to erect a statute to Robocop in Detroit, according to Mayor Dave Bing. There is, however, a Rocky statue at the base of the Philadelphia Museum of Art after one was placed at the top of the Rocky steps in Rocky III. While it could be argued that Rocky is cooler than Robocop or Robocop is cooler than Rocky (decide for yourself on February 18/19, when Robocop screens at the Denver Film Center), I think we can all agree that Robocop has come to define Detroit (much more so than Eminem) in the way that Sylvester (native New Yorker) Stallone's Rocky has come to define Philly.
Here are five more characters that define a city and therefore, in a fair world, would have them some damn statues:
Cameron Poe/Nicolas Cage Las Vegas, Nevada Cameron Poe's journeys take him all over the United States, but he finds his final redemption in Las Vegas. Hitching a ride with some of the nation's most dangerous and notorious convicts, probably-wrongfully-convicted ex-army-ranger Poe is trying to get home to his wife and daughter when the cons take over the plane under the command of Cyrus "The Virus" Grissom. Pretending to be a fellow murderer and possessor of a life sentence, Poe does his best to Die Hard the whole thing, even though he's on a small plane with no easily perceived air ducts, in order to protect his diabetic friend Baby-O and a female corrections officer he perceives as helpless even though she's a prison guard on a plane carrying really deadly dudes, as previously stated, and she manages to help kill a guy while handcuffed to a wall.
After the plane crashes in Las Vegas and Poe's friends are safe, he has a chance to leave the final chase in the hands of the authorities and go home to his family. He chooses dashing heroics.
Where: Right at the beginning of the strip, next to the "Welcome to Vegas" sign.
The statue: Lightweight aluminum. Adaptable, easy to move. Saluting us as we drive into concentrated America, holding his daughter's precious stuffed bunny that he literally killed to protect. Yeah, he killed a guy to get back a stuffed bunny.
Bender/Judd Nelson Shermer, Illinois (or closest real-life equivalent) Bender is an enigma. He dresses like some kind of punk-rock/metal pastiche, keeps his pot stashed in a booby-trapped locker and seems to come from a broken home, but every weekend he gets himself put into all-day detention in his high school's library to act as a catalyst for teenagers of seemingly different status to realize that they're not all that different. And for his troubles, he totally gets to make out with Molly Ringwald (young Molly Ringwald, not old Molly Ringwald. Awesome, right?). He's the opposite of Shermer's resident sociopath, Ferris Bueller, pretending to be selfish and aloof to help people and change their lives. I wish I'd known Bender in high school.
Where: Where do you think? The high school's football field.
The statue: Full Bender wardrobe. Sunglasses on. Ringwald diamond in ear. Fist raised. Hard and heavy American iron.
Will Hunting/Matt Damon Boston, MA You know what the best part of my day is? When I turn on the TV, and the image is just comin' up and turnin' less fuzzy and I'm not quite sure what show is on yet, and there's always the tiniest chance that when it gets there, what will be showing is Good Will Hunting. No warning, no announcement. Just Good Will Hunting.
Southie janitor Will Hunting may be a genius, and maybe he solved some math problems that are a big deal, and maybe he tore a new one in some pretentious Ivy-league bastards, but for all the money in the world, the thing that he should be celebrated most for is making MIT not boring for a couple of hours. You know what movies about MIT are like? Just like going to MIT: a bunch of nerdy kids studying really hard. They never get in slow-motion fights on basketball courts. And they certainly don't have awesome Southie accents.
Where: Right on the plaza of the Hayden Library.
The statue: "Good" Will Hunting immortalized doing his janitorial duties, cleaning up the Elmo-MIT, the first statue to be installed on the MIT campus, mop in hand, faraway look in his eyes. Pure. Solid. Gold.
Kham/Tony Jaa Sydney, Australia In Tom-Yum-Goong, released in the U.S. as The Protector (and famous for a single-take, eight-minute fight/stunt sequence), a simple and humble country boy named Kham teaches the residents of a western metropolis Thai Buddhist values and allows them to make amends for sending thugs to Thailand to steal his pet elephant by brutally kneeing and elbowing everyone he meets until they can't see or hear anymore. He makes a fool cop into a hero, exposes an organized-crime ring that specializes in poaching endangered species for ornate and gross meals, and beats the holy hell out of an evil gang of extreme sports enthusiasts -- and come on, everyone hates those douchebags on those stupid BMX bikes.
Where: Taronga Zoo, Sydney, next to the elephant exhibit.
The statue: Tall and bronze, like the warrior Kham. He should probably be screaming and in the middle of some kind of flying elbow strike (guarding the elephants). The character's inherent contradictions (old school mixed with new, pacificist tendencies mixed with a preference for doling out complex fractures) are expressed visually by his gray Converse All-Stars against his red krama scarf. So those gotta be on there. Maybe a gift shop next to the statue can sell them.
John McClane/Bruce Willis Los Angeles, California Los Angeles is a melting pot of races, ethnicities, politics and identitIes, and everyone goes there to "make it." Even if they didn't mean to.
John McClane was just a blue-collar New York cop looking for his estranged wife, but when terrorists took over her Christmas party and took all the damn yuppies hostage, what he ended up being was a real-life American hero. Killing TEN hostage-takers and saving around thirty people, McClane destroys a brand-new building, fixes his relationship with his wife, and grabs himself two comedic black sidekicks in just a few hours. Barefoot. He's a modern cowboy. He's a legend.
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SHOW ME HOW
Where: Did you know Nakatomi Tower is a real place? Just put that BAMF right out front.
The statue: Walkin' out that building, he's gotta be tired. And beat up. And wanting more than anything to just go home and forget all this ever happened. But despite the fact that he's always the guy in the wrong place at the wrong time, he's still moving forward, cigarette dangling from his lip -- reluctantly triumphant. Copper, so it turns green and rusts and ages, but never falls down.
Editor's Note: So this is weird. Turns out our friends at the Houston Press had the same idea as us. To read their list, go here: "Five Public Statue Suggestions for Five American Cities"