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Movies Science of Shape shifting

Updated on January 30, 2014

Different types of shapeshifting

1 natural shape shifting

2 evolution shape shifting

3 Alien morphing

4 Humans transforming to animals

5 Beast morph

6 Disguise morphing

7 Robot shape shifting

8 Machine shape shifting

9 Mimic

Movies and the Science of Shape shifting

Shape shifting can be considered under various forms of transformation which cover a broad spectrum of beliefs and ideas, the process of shape shifting has been explored in mythology, fantasy stories, mysticism, science, natural evolution, science fiction, told in folklore and creative drawings. The physical transformation of a living being from one form to another through the process of magic, fantasy, fiction imagination and science is shape shifting.

Movies and shape shifting

The movies abound with fiction fantasy action flicks of shape shifters, because of the beautiful cinematic visualization of the manipulative effect of the process on the audience, shape shifting is very dramatic and exciting to explore hence big blockbusters using such themes in their films. There are different types of shape shifting brought about through different manipulation some of which are explained bellow.

Combat shape shifting robots

Combat shape shifting

Movies constantly explores the idea of robots having the ability to morph into different forms other than their own, one of the best known movie robots is the robotic assassin named T-1000 in terminator 2. In the movie terminator 2- judgment day created by James Cameron and William Wisher they had the robot assassin made from advanced alloys which consist of a revolutionary mimetic poly alloy which they deftly referred to as liquid metal.

The poly alloy killing machine had only one purpose for its existence to kill john Connor the purported person to save the world from 1000 years of man versus machine warfare. T-1000 being a master of subterfuge and deception could shape shift by assuming anyone’s identity so long as the person has identical mass or form with the robot. The robot could liquefy appendages into lethal weaponry and functional tools, has the ability to reabsorb dismembered parts, mimic speech had superhuman strength and possessed incredible agility and speed.

The protagonist robot had to face the old prototype terminator played by Schwarzenegger who was sent by the opposition rebels (humans) to protect Connor from the futuristic villain and uphill task considering T-1000 imperviousness to fire, bullets and dismemberment.

A Shape shifter in terminator the movie

The shape shifter in terminator
The shape shifter in terminator | Source

Shapeshifting machines


Much like the shape shifting robot in terminator, in the action science fiction movie the transformers the Allspark created entities found themselves in limbo after the destruction of their home planet Cyhetron. The Autobots appointed themselves defender of the earth against their world dominating rivals the Decepticons too eager for interplanetary domination and destruction.

The Autobots led by Optimus prime could shape shift into regular household appliances especially automobiles while the Decepticons and their leader Megatron favored heavy military weaponry like fighter airplanes, tanks and cannons. The entire 700 million grossing worldwide movie revolved around a teenager who befriends an auto bots and aids them in scuttling the evil ambitions of the decepticons.

Some of the memorable robot race characters conceived by directors Steven Spielberg and Michael Bay are Scorponok, Bumblebee, Starscream, Megatron, Optimus Prime and Bone crusher.

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Human beings taking animal form

The art of shape shifting does not include only robots and clever machinery, in the movie world shape shifting of humans into animal forms abound. In ancient native Indian cultures they believe that the human can occupy the spirit of animals like lions for acts of bravery through incantations, repetition and hallucinations. Movies have taking shape shifting future to actual changing from humans to an animal, a 1995 fantasy romance (I am a sucker for romance) explores this theme by captivating our romantic side at the same time tantalizing our imagination.

Ladyhawke featuring the delectable Michelle Pielfer and Mathew Broderick had two lovers cast under a spell by the evil bishop of Aquila that transformed the lady into a hawk in the daytime and the gallant knight into a wolf at night. So the irony is although they are constantly in each other company they never seeing each other.

A chance meeting of the lovers by an escape thief called mouse unfolded an intricate plot with the sole aim of getting the cursed lover into the presence of the spell casting bishop at a specific time or the spell would remain permanent forever. The most memorable cinematic imagery was on one occasion when the love struck lovers stared eye to eye at twilight caught a second glimpse of each other before shape shifting.

Shape shifting automobile

Shape shifting automobile
Shape shifting automobile | Source

Mystique a mutant shape shifter

Mystique - Image of a woman shape shifter
Mystique - Image of a woman shape shifter | Source

Mutant shapeshifting

Comics, cartoon characters and featured films have not been left out in the shape shifting fantasy; they also explore themes of magic, fantasy, sorcery to my displeasure because of the kids, alien and other forms. The mutant combatants in the xmen have a variety of abilities purportedly inherited through mutation of human genes; they are capable of telic anises, weather control, mind control, manipulation of the elements like fire, water and wind, teleportation and shapeshifting.

The anti mutant sentiments rightly so with all these powerful beings living among regular people have pitted professor Charles Xavier a powerful mind controlling mentalist against the villain his friend magnieto. The human mutant fantasy created by Dave Cockrum and Chris Claremont have regular showdowns between he brotherhood of mutants headed by magnieto, humans and their discreet defender Xavier and his school of young mutants and dedicated mutant teachers.

One of my favorite characters is Mystique a shape shifting super villain, she has a distinctive blue color and flaming red head, the body is scaly which lends a hideous at the same time stunningly beautiful woman imagery. Mystique apart from her ability to take on any human identity either male or female is a master of infiltration, a skilled combatant, has incredible ability and agility complemented with great intellect.

The ageless mutant can voice manipulate is a skilled assassin and has a crush on wolverine, some other mutants with interesting abilities are, beast, Cyclops, fire star, magnieto and his ability to move very large metal objects, rogue, storm who can manipulate the weather, mimic and Xavier. The xmen character is much number close to seventy five individual mutants.

Reptilian humanoids

Reptilian humanoids that shape shift is based on conspiracy theories that reptiles evolved along with primates into intellectual beings, the lizard people are said to have the ability to shape shift in order to blend in with the more populous humans. Other conspiracy theory involves same reptilian race haven come from outer space with the same agenda of world domination through conning and power gain.

The theory also accommodates alien abductions, UFO sightings, feature film interpretations and several spinoff of the reptilian humanoids among us, they are supposed to have the ability to take on the physical semblance of a person in order to replace the person for there sole goal of world domination.

Multiple shapeshifting

The king of multi-shapeshifting is Benjamin Tennyson aka Ben 10, the cartoon network studio presentation conceived by (man of action) a group of people which include Steven Siegel has the ultimate shape shifter. The story revolves around a feisty teenage boy who happened upon an alien watch like device which fuses to his arms and is configured with ten thousand super ability alien genetic codes.

The wristwatch allows Benjamin take on any alien life form in the device in order to battle extraterrestrial super criminals alongside the plumbers a colloquium of human and alien policing unit. Ben 10 franchise has spun television series, cartoon series, several films, animation, many gift items and video games and is largely popular among youths and adults.

Some of the memorable alien characters Ben 10 turns into are wildmut, Diamond Head, ripjaws, upgrade, ghost freak, echo, humungasaur, big chill, spider monkey and goop. The device is called the omnitrix and has gone through many changes such as the ultimatrix, new omnitrix with the changing series like alien force, ultimate alien and omniverse.

A beautiful butterfly

A beautiful butterfly
A beautiful butterfly | Source

Evolution and shape shifting

In nature evolution has lent a hand in shape shifting, there are real plants and animals that have this ability more so insects and amphibians through the process of metamorphosis, they assume different shapes during their developmental stage through to adulthood. In the process of transformation into adults some insects and amphibians young have no resemblance to the adult form.

In insects after the hatching process the emerging life form are usually nymphs or larvae which are legless worm like segmented forms that feed constantly, they develop through cell growth and a state of rest called the pupa stage before emerging as winged insects with legs eyes etc.

Hemimetabolous is the stage from egg to nymph which are immature adults that closely resemble the adults and develop though cell growth and shedding to become adults, holometabolous is the egg, larvae, pupa (cocoon) and adult stages.

Amphibians on the other hand lay eggs that hatch into gill bearing aquatic life form that breath through lungs called tadpoles, they have teeth, whiskers, fins and distended tails. Must of this features are absorbed forming the large toad/frog head and its totally different adult form.

Ability to regenerate limbs

The incredible ability to re generate limbs is one of the most astounding features you can find in nature, if we haven’t seen this with our eye we would place it in re realm of fiction fantasy. The champion of this weird and wonderful ability is the Agama lizard, the lizard ca detach its tail as an escape mechanism and re-grow the lost appendage over a period.

Agama lizard is native to Africa and can be found in savanna areas, rocky outcrops and around homes, the lizard has over 40 species, with bright features like red head, dark blue torso and red and blue tail, the body is covered by spiny scales from head to tail and the feed predominantly insects.

shapeshifting is a fascinating topic that has captivated mankind through the ages, machines if manufactured to multi task can be regarded as shape shifters, even in nature the super intelligent squid can take the form of the coral fauna or a rock, the chameleon can alter its color as a defense mechanism or hide from predators. Shapeshifting might not be as elaborate as movies profess but nature sure has some interesting tricks that could be regarded as shapeshifting.


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