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Mega Man vs. The Laws
Mega Man has fought and stopped Dr. Wily’s plans for what seems like ages. Each time the doctor is brought to justice and incarcerated. Despite the swift servings of justice, Dr. Wily always returns with the same ambitions. Why is it, that in a world so advanced, this one man can cause so much trouble?
Mega Man 7’s ending is quite unique in the regards of showing us just how human Mega Man is. Upon confronting Dr. Wily, Mega Man notions that it is time to put a stop to this once and for all. He’s able to make this decision because of the free will given to him by Dr. Light. Realistically, I do not think anyone would have objected to Mega Man’s decision to execute Wily just then. Sensing his end to be very near, the doctor counters with a simplistic yet very effective argument. Mega Man, being a robot, has to abide by the Laws of Robotics. Mega Man pauses a moment as to ponder over Wily’s words. Bass, Wily’s counterpart to Mega Man, arrives on the scene and whisks him away to safety.
What are the Laws of Robotics? Glad you asked! The Laws of Robotics are a very popular idea instilled in the genre of Science Fiction by noted author Isaac Asimov. These principles are put into place to ultimately stop a “Terminator” like scenario where machines rise against their human creators. These three laws are as follows: A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm. A robot must obey the orders given to it by human beings, except where such orders would conflict with the First Law. A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second. This creates a very strange effect seeing as how the world of Mega Man is run almost solely by robots.
Dr. Wily has been thrown in jail many times but despite being a global terrorist, never receives a severe enough punishment. This is probably because robots are used in these prisons and while they keep the order, cannot execute a human being. We know through Mega Man’s dialogue that he knows that unless Wily is put to death, he will keep coming back. It is through this situation that we see just how complicated these laws can be. Machines produce most of the world’s products and practically run the world for us; requiring a button press here and there. Therefore, to believe that humans would not let the robots handle a situation as complicated as law enforcement is just ridiculous. To what end though? Are crime rates so low that Wily is the only criminal? Are most humans, incarcerated in robot run jails usually reformed? It really seems like that one of these situations must be the case. Otherwise the world would be in anarchy. Robots could yell and shout, even capture some criminals but being so limited by these laws, that’s about it. The only conclusion that we could come to would be that Wily is clearly the only threat the world has seen for some time and even though Mega Man knows something needs to be done, he cannot go through with it. While Mr. Asimov’s rules prevent “Judgment Day”, they also ensure that humanity can only be so lazy.
Now let’s us look at the reverse; Dr. Light’s robots are obviously programmed with the laws but are Dr. Wily’s? The doctor has built a fair share of his own machines while having stolen others. One such robot built by Dr. Wily, as noted before, was Bass and his dog Treble. This pair was to be his ultimate weapon being almost an exact copy of Mega Man. It is clear Bass has a form of free will similar to Mega Man given that he often disobeys orders. There have been occasions where Bass has even rebelled against Wily’s own plans and seemingly let some amount of harm come to the doctor. Now given the lighthearted nature of the series it is unclear just on what level the injuries that Wily sustained were. The screens that depicted this were often the classic cartoon look of “I’ve just been blown up and am now dirty and soot covered.” This leads us to several conclusions: that Bass’ free will is over riding the laws somehow (which doesn’t seem possible), that the laws are present just with some form of leniency, or that Dr. Wily did not program Bass with these laws at all. Given that he wanted to one up Light and finally crush Mega Man, it is my belief that Bass does not possess these laws and even though fights to best Mega Man, has a strong sense of right and wrong.
Wily’s schemes always amount to some sort of chaos in the streets but rarely, if ever, are there reports of any deaths during one of his attacks on Monsteropolis. This leads into one final question that I am going to examine: Do any of Dr. Wily’s other robots abide by the laws? The loyalty of the many robot masters and the lack of reported casualties suggest that these other robots do in fact possess the laws. The only robot to show any rebellious nature was Bass and we’ve established that he is a special case. Robots such as Air Man, Spark Man, and Dark Man have followed every order and disrupted the peace. The only one any of them has shown the slightest inclination of wanting to murder was Mega Man himself. Even when Dr. Light was kidnapped and fell ill, Wily nor his robots, let him perish.
It is clear to see why these laws would have to exist but looking back on everything that I’ve stated, it is no wonder why Mega Man and Dr. Wily are caught in the loop they find themselves trapped within.
(Featured graphic provided by Benjamin Sawyer. To see more of his work, visit benbrush.com or benbrush.deviantart.com)