In the original film, the human wives are dead. Killed. Buried in unmarked graves.
In the 2004 remake, the men can brainwash their wives to absolute control. What if it could be applied to human trafficking?
In the original film, the men have killed off their original wives and replaced them with robot doubles that will serve as the perfect trophy wives. Note that they killed off the mothers of their children just to satisfy their needs for control, sex, a maid, and to have a buxom wife that views him as a God. The kids don't factor into any of this... how are they going to deal with their fathers and hollow, emotionless robotic doppelgangers as mothers?
The novel and the film each have different answers to this question. In the novel, after Bobbi is replaced with a robot, Joanna asks Bobbi's son about how his mother's doing. The son says that she's being unusually nice to him, and he's enjoying it while he can, because it's probably not going to last. This opens up a whole new Fridge Horror, as it's implied that the kids are just as selfish as the men of the town, and preferred their hollow imitation mothers to their real ones. The beginning of the film, on the other hand, shows a school bus full of somber children in dark, gendered clothing in contrast with the brighter and sturdily dressed Eberhart girls. This implies that they are repressed by perfectionist robots for mothers and fathers that are distant.
Even worse, what about the next generation? If the men kill off their wives simply to have versions of them that had no hobbies or lives of their own, who's to say they wouldn't do the same when their daughters were old enough? And suppose they groomed their daughter's boyfriends/husbands or their own sons into the practice? The whole thing could conceivably go on for generations!
Because Claire wasn't motivated by the need for wealth, but madness spawned when she caught her husband fucking another woman and killed both of them. She only played up the sex bot angle to get the men to go along with the plan, with full intention of having them be stepfordized once she got enough couples in the town to satisfy her plot to run a town filled with stepfordized people
If the wives in the remake are just regular people with microchips implanted in their skulls, then how come they're resistant to fire? How come they can work as an ATM?
Some of this can be explained through nanomachines (it's mentioned briefly during the scene where Walter reverses the "Stepford Programming". No explanation for the ATM bit, however.
I think that the only explanation was that SOME of the stepford wives were actual robots for the men who lack wives, and these were the ones with the ATM installed along with the more robotic features. The other men who already had wives were ones that were modified with the microchips. We know that the villains could build lifelike robots, in the case of Christopher Walken's character. It just makes sense.