Robots makeovers -- 'Short Circuit' to 'Terminator'
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( Michael Courtney / The CW )
BASE MODEL: Introduced in the Superman comics (1958), the original Brainiac was an alien living computer in humanoid form able to interface with any computer. He was bent on conquering the planet and gaining all the knowledge of all its people.
UPDATE: In subsequent comics and cartoons, Brainiac became a despot and space-faring vessel, looking for more knowledge and power as it roamed. In the CW's "Smallville," Brainiac ( James Marsters) is a humanoid revealed to be a creation from Superman's homeworld attempting to bring back a villain to rule on Earth.
UPGRADE: The early and metallic Brainiac incarnations were always powerful, but clunky and uninspired. "Smallville's" Brainiac was powerful (mimicking Superman's powers) and was able to re-form itself into anything or anyone. It also had a clear devotion to hurting Superman. The TV version may not have been as powerful as the comic book version, but was much more dangerous.