First Appearance: Mega Man (Capcom, NES, 1987)
Distinguishing Feature: Indestructible hard hat exterior
Aliases: Hard Hat Mack; Mettaur; Met
M.O.: Extreme diversity and cautious invulnerability
Weaknesses: Movement

Profile by Jeremy Parish? | April 5, 2011

How could something as adorable as a Metool, those lovable little worker drone robots designed to look like hardhats, be responsible for the end of the world? The answer: indirectly, but indubitably.

History doesn’t record the original root of the falling out between revolutionary roboticists Albert W. Wily and Thomas Light; many sources claim it stemmed from a trademark dispute over the name “Row-Bot,” which Wily reputedly hoped to use for an automaton designed to sort and collate items into neat rows and columns and Light insisted using instead on a service droid built to drive boats and gondolas. More reputable sources, of course, regard this supposed point of contention as wholly apocryphal.

Much more likely is the suggestion that their dispute rose instead over the humble Metool. Reconstructed records indicate that the Metool was originally designed by Light and resembled a squat cylinder with a special adapter that would allow it to interface with any number of construction machines—a universal controller for a wide-ranging heavy labor devices Light hoped to sell to Monsteropolis’ booming, Bubble Era construction and demolitions industries. Unfortunately, Light’s design was extremely fragile, so Wily suggested an idea brilliant in its hindsight obviousness: Give it a hardhat, just like a real construction worker.

And not just a standard hardhat, but a specially treated steel shell whose magnetic coating would make it invulnerable to practically any sort of damage short of the Metool exploding from within. Wily also took this opportunity to add his trademark googly eyes to the design to help cute it up.

For Light, this was apparently the last straw. A serious designer committed to practical solutions for everyday life, Light had grown weary of Wily’s impractical compulsion to encrust their every project with silly anthropomorphic traits that constantly undermine the efficacy of those creations. The Metool, however, was even worse: Wily’s revision was not only practical, it was also inexpensive. Not only that, the Metool was cute as a button with its cuddly little feet peeking out from beneath a durable hardhat shell. For once, Light could find no fault in his partner’s excess. And so, he snapped.

While the veracity of this account seems fairly reliable, astute analysts have noted a few oddities and observations that don’t quite add up. Perhaps most important is this: Surely it’s not coincidence that Wily’s final contribution to the Light Labs oeuvre just happened to be an inexpensive, mass-produceable creation capable of fending off the fire of any of Light’s other creations. In other words, the Metool’s design should probably be interpreted as Wily’s most blatant bid for sedition and domination. Those inclined to look kindly at Light’s role in the events that followed suggest that the doctor saw through his unhinged partner’s scheme and reacted to this, not some uncouth jealousy over mere visual design.

Of course, this might raise the question of why, if Wily had access to materials that would have made his creations invulnerable to Mega Man’s firepower, he wouldn’t simply coat every inch of his robots and other machines with them? This has to do with Wily’s greatest weakness as a mad scientist and would-be conquerer of the world: he was a hopeless aesthete. An invulnerable hardhat made sense, because everyone knows hardhats are tough. An invulnerable penguin-bot? Well, that would simply be ridiculous. Whoever heard of an invincible penguin?

Like so many forms of madness, Wily’s obeyed a consistent internal logic that simply appeared skewed to outside observers. But also like so many forms of madness, it’s inextricably tied to ego. Wily’s dispute with Light prompted him to seek to prove his superiority through conquest, which led to multiple destructive conflicts and ultimately to an escalation of the robots both Light and Wily used to resolve their differences. Light’s greatest invention, X, was eventually copied improperly by the archaeologist Dr. Cain, which led to an improper duplication of the infamous Suffering Circuit, which led to the Maverick Virus, which led to countless uprisings and ultimately the decimation of the world’s population in the crash of Space Station Eurasia, which in turn led to the Elf Wars and the rise of Neo-Arcadia. That in turn was followed by the Sage Trinity, whose plan to reset humanity is believed have found its ultimate realization in Elysium and the repopulation of the world with Carbon Units that hybridized humanity and Reploids into a single unified race, and... well, you get the idea.

All that from an adorable little* walking hardhat.

*And the occasional gigantic one, as well.

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