The 10 most badass sci-fi battlesuits ever

Seen District 9 yet? If not, don't worry — I won't spoil anything for you — but if you have you know that hulking robotic suit featured in the trailer shows up and stuff gets nuts. So that got us thinking: What other awesome powered armor, exoskeletons and battlesuits from science fiction have left a similar lasting impression?

We're not just talking movies here, either. Books, videogames and even tabletop gaming — it's all in there. Click Continue to see the top 10 most badass sci-fi battlesuits.

Click on the thumbnails to see larger images.


1. Power Loader

Seen in: Aliens (1986)

Special weapons: Super powerful, two-pronged claws and, of course — Ripley doesn't leave home without one, after all — a mini-flamethrower.

Claim to fame: Right when this forklift-on-crack showed up in Aliens, we all knew it was too cool to just lug crates around. Taking on an alien queen? Awesome. So awesome, in fact, that you can see a Loader for yourself at the Science Fiction Museum in Seattle.


2. E-frame

Seen in: Exosquad (1993)

Special weapons: Depending on the suit, E-frames do it all: from flying around in space to firing all kinds of lasers and missiles at Neosapiens.

Claim to fame: America's answer to Japan's mech-happy anime. Really, we couldn't hope for much better out of a space opera geared toward kids (one that you can relive on Hulu, it turns out).


3. MI powered armor

Seen in: Starship Troopers (1959)

Special weapons: Mobile Infantry power armor makes the average soldier faster, better and stronger. There are multiple different versions of the armor adapted to fulfill specialized roles (which Heinlein greatly details).

Claim to fame: Absent from the film(s) — though the mess that was Starship Troopers 3: Maruader took a shallow stab at the concept — Heinlein's powered armor is to military exoskeletons what Asimov's 'bots are to modern robotics. Described by Rico as "steel gorillas," the Mobile Infantry's powered armor blurs the line between infantry and an armored unit — something today's military would love to see. (And we're talking actively working toward — from near-future applications such as the Sarcos exoskeleton, to more futuristic powered armor concepts.

4. Nanosuit

Seen in: Crysis (2007)

Special weapons: Different modes — such as super strength, speed, hardened armor or a cloak — make the nanosuit a force to be reckoned with.

Claim to fame: Not only does Crysis boast some of the best graphics around, its crazy nanosuit is the metric ton of cherries on top. The nanosuit looks great, to boot, rivaling even the Master Chief in badassery (who can't be on this list, sadly — cyborgs don't count). UPDATE: Unlike his Marathon predecessor, Master Chief is not a cyborg (or maybe he is — you'll find both points of view below), as the comments below have pointed out. However, he went on a crazy bender and couldn't come in for pictures in time to make this list, so he's still out. Sorry, folks!


5. Tachikoma

Seen in: Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex (2002)

Special weapons: An agile, spider-like body coupled with a playful, built-in AI. While it looks more tank than suit, the degree of control the Tachikoma affords makes it like a second skin.

Claim to fame: In a very serious sci-fi universe, the Tachikoma stands out for its humor. Yep — it's essentially a comedian with a big ol' cannon fitted to his head.


6. Accelerator suit

Seen in: G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra (2009)

Special weapons: Arm-mounted mini-gun, grappling gear and all-around enhanced abilities. Just about the only thing it doesn't improve is one's ability to act.

Claim to fame: For some, the accelerator suit represents the death of all things G.I. Joe, with the costumes being ditched for a rather drab-looking battlesuit. For others, it represents serious toy franchise dollars. (Though, to be fair, with technologies such as the HULC battlesuit right around the corner, the days of toy soldiers dressed like pro wrestlers are probably over.)


7. Gundam RX-78

Seen in: Mobile Suit Gundam (1979)

Special weapons: The plethora of Gundam robots out there have wielded anything and everything, but there's usually a general combination at work: a ranged weapon, a shield of some sort and a close combat weapon (classically a Jedi-esque beam sword).

Claim to fame: Giant. Robot.


8. Space Marine armor

Seen in: Warhammer 40,000 (1987)

Special weapons: While each genetically-enhanced Space Marine is really a weapon unto himself, his power armor (or armour, if you please) rounds him out as one of the toughest soldiers in the universe.

Claim to fame: Science fiction is chock-full of marines that also happen to be in space, but how about marines that are in space during a universe-spanning dark age that takes place during the 41st millennium?


9. Advanced Power Armor

Seen in: Fallout 3 (2008)

Special weapons: Much like the aforementioned Space Marine armor, the powered suits featured in the Fallout series are heavily-armored performance enhancers. It'll stop everything from bullets to Canadians.

Claim to fame: Fallout's power armor presents a visage as striking as a Stormtrooper's, set in a memorable post-apocalyptic world to boot. Whether you're wearing it or running from it in the game, it'll leave a lasting impression. Of all the armor on the list, Fallout's retro-futuristic powered armor is probably the close to being realized. Hell, slap some plating on the HAL exoskeleton and that'd be darn close.


10. Prawn battle suit

Seen in: District 9 (2009)

Special weapons: A lightning cannon on one arm and a machine-gun-thing on the other. Both make fools explode. It's also got a bullet-stopping trick it can do (just like Neo!), but you'll just have to see the movie to check that out.

Claim to fame: I'm not going to spoil anything for you. See District 9. You'll remember this thing. Trust me.


Bonus: AMP

To be seen in: Avatar (2009)

Special weapons: We really have no idea what the AMP is capable of, but that sure is a big rifle it's holding. That and it's aptly named to be #11 on our list.

Claim to fame: Luckily, we won't have to wait much longer to find out the answer to this one as James Cameron's Avatar will land in theaters later this year. (Think the AMP is cut out to be Cameron's Power Loader 2.0?)


(UPDATE!) Extra Bonus: Iron Man

Seen in: Iron Man (2008)

Special weapons: How did we miss this? Of course, Tony Stark's Iron Man suit is one of the most badass examples of powered armor (thanks, commenters!). In the film, it displayed a host of weaponry — shooting antitank missiles from the wrists and antipersonnel rounds from the shoulders — but it was the repulsor jets in the palms that stole the show.

Claim to fame: The iconic red-and-gold armor was actually the third version that Stark built, forging it out of a gold/titanium alloy so it wouldn't freeze at high altitudes. The holographic heads-up display in the helmet is pretty awesome, too. Look for some upgrades when Iron Man 2 hits theaters next year.

Click on the thumbnails to see larger images.

Got a battlesuit near and dear to your heart? Let us know in the comments below!