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Optimus Prime Is An Asshole


*Caution! This article contains spoilers for ALL of the live-action Transformers films!*

Before you lose your shit and start calling blasphemy at the title of this post, please take heed and understand the face that the above phrase is only in reference to the live-action Michael Bay version of the character.

I grew up watching the original Transformers.

Optimus Prime was, and is; one of my biggest heroes.

That being said, after (finally) watching Transformers: Dark of the Moon, I can honestly say, with an absolute degree of certainty; that Michael Bay’s take on the character barely qualifies as a “in name only” representation of the original Optimus Prime.

Much like the Roland Emmerich take on Godzilla, commonly known as GINO or "Godzilla In Name Only."

Watching Optimus Prime evolve, or should I say, degenerate; from film to film has been a horrific and sickening process.

The original character of Optimus Prime was that of a regal and clean-cut goody goody.

He was noble to the point of being kind of a tool, he rarely was at the forefront of combat, deferring most of the dirty work to his Autobot cohorts, and in every case, regardless of how practical it may be; he did whatever he could to stand for peace and altruism.

He was an admirable role model for impressionable young children, and one that, in a perfect world, would still hold up to this day.

The first live-action Transformers movie, a mediocre film overall, but easily the best of the trilogy; took many liberties with it’s interpretations of many of the Gen 1 characters, however when it came to Optimus Prime, it mostly got it “right.”

In Transformers 1, Prime was every bit as regal as his old self, with the sole exception of a few uncharacteristically goofy moments.

One of his finer moments in the film came at the very end, when Prime attempted to sacrifice himself and the All-Spark.

Sam, being the mental giant that he is, instead decided to kill Megatron with it.

He never once suggested using it to destroy Megatron, nor did he ever seem at any point prepared to outright kill his lifelong rival.

While his character was never developed to the point in which anyone could really care about him, it was nonetheless very appropriate to have Prime mourn the death of Jazz at the film’s conclusion.

Really Prime’s only really odd moment was during his battle with Bonecrusher, wherein he basically decapitated the severely outmatched Decepticon without giving it a second thought.

While somewhat shocking, dealing with his opponent at the time, quickly and efficiently; was cause enough justify Prime’s course of action.

Even so, while it was cool to see Prime cut loose and kick-ass, it’s hard for me to associate the phrase “stone cold killer” with him.

Which brings us to the train wreck that is Revenge of the Fallen.

Pictured: One of the innumerable problems that made up the blasphemous pile of poo that was Revenge of the Fallen.

Probably the worst in the trilogy, Revenge of the Fallen’s version of Optimus Prime was worse than the first film, but in my opinion; not quite as bad as the 3rd one.

Not all too different from his Transformers 1 counterpart in speech and mannerisms, the one really noticeable change in his character came in the form of a gung ho, “kill them until they die from it” attitude.

I’m guessing it makes me sound like a pussy to say so, but I was downright shocked to see Optimus blow Demolishor’s head off at the beginning of the movie.

It's all in good fun until someone gets hurt...

While far from the dumbest or most offensive sequence in the movie, seeing a childhood hero think nothing of executing a defenseless opponent just seemed really fuckin’ wrong to me.

Similarly, it came as a shock to me that Prime would brutalize and utterly obliterate The Fallen at the film’s conclusion.

The world was no longer in danger, and in his “Super Saiyan Prime” form, The Fallen seemed to be no match for him; so in my mind it seemed kind of odd for Prime to go the extra mile to butcher and obliterate his opponent.

Sadly, that last part is a direct quote.

I’m not at all opposed to killing in Transformers movies, however I do take offense to unjustified killing via the hands of Optimus Prime.

Killing Blackout during the 3-on-1 battle in the forest (arguably the best scene in any of the movies) came as a result of necessity I.E. defending himself and more importantly, Sam.

Decapitating a defenseless, and largely incapacitated opponent, was hard to justify outside of appealing to a bloodthirsty audience.

There was a phrase that Prime tossed around in virtually every episode of the old TV show, namely that of “Easy, Ironhide.”

This phrase was meant to separate Prime from his more bloodthirsty counterpart.

The phrase was used in Transformers 1, but somewhere down the line they decided to ditch it and the philosophical implications it brought to the table.

That being said, while Prime was obviously trending towards a more bad-ass persona in Revenge of the Fallen, in my eyes they took this much too far in Dark of the Moon.

"Peeeeaaace..... No Peace..."

Prime’s role in Dark of the Moon was somewhat diminished in comparison to the previous films in the series, however his behavior in the 3rd film was borderline offensive.

First off, and this applies to all of the Autobots; I found the idea of the Transformers rallying behind the U.S. military to combat terrorism to be more than a little insulting.

Throughout every film, Optimus Prime has declared himself to be an ally of humanity, making it completely absurd that he and the other Autobots would seemingly align themselves exclusively with the U.S., a single nation among hundreds of others.

I know these movies have obligations to portray the U.S. military in a certain way, largely due to multi-million dollar contracts with the armed forces; but attempting to trick kids into believing they’ll get to hang out with autonomous transforming robots when they sign-up is more than a little offensive.

Oh well, at least it’s not as dumb, or as blatant as Taiwan’s military ad campaign:

Moving on, it’s hard to deny that Prime’s gung ho/take no prisoners attitude from Revenge of the Fallen was turned up to 11 for Dark of the Moon.

Gen 1 and first film alum, Ironhide, as well as a handful of other Autobots are killed in the film, however at no point does Optimus Prime take a moment to reflect on their passing.

The death of any Autobot is always going to be a big deal, but for IRONHIDE, one of the most well known and beloved characters in the franchise to pass on without acknowledgment; is pretty fuckin’ lame.

What’s also pretty fuckin’ lame is hearing Optimus Prime arrive at the battlefield and declare bullshit G.I. Joe phrases like:

That’s a direct quote by the way.

I don’t care how many civilians the Decepticons kill, to hear the venerable leader of the Autobots order a fuckin’ genocide on the opposition is just plain fuckin’ wrong.

To make matters worse, Prime once again can’t seem to stop himself from killing everything in sight.

Countless (generic) Decepticons meet their fate at the hands of Prime in Dark of the Moon, however the really offensive deaths come at the film’s conclusion.

At the end of the film, Prime is severely wounded and faced with 2 opponents, Sentinel Prime and Megatron.

At one point Megatron proceeds to offer Prime a truce, whereupon Prime interrupts him and proceeds to tear his fuckin’ head off.

Following this, a mortally wounded Sentinel Prime crawls about on the ground and begs for his life, whereupon Prime interrupts him and proceeds blow his fuckin’ head off.


Apparently, negotiation is not one of the Autobot’s strong suits.

I don’t know about you, but shit like this grinds my motherfuckin’ gears.

It’s like the equivalent of a grossly unwarranted and unexpected heel-turn of a beloved face in wrestling.

The only difference is, in wrestling shit like that usually ends up paying off in the long run.

Corporate Rock, while hard to swallow in the first few months, was one of his better moments.

G.I. Kill-Master Prime, as well as any of the live-action Transformers films, will likely continue to be shitty as ever 10 years from now.

Anyway, I won’t be writing a review for Dark of the Moon, (it sucked) but I felt I needed to pound out this article, because I genuinely felt that this interpretation of the character was entirely “wrong.”

Oh well, I guess this is the kind of shit you have to expect from movies when the military is heavily invested in their making, the countries’ been at war for over a decade, and kids have been living off Call of Duty games and their imitators for the past 8 years.

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12 Responses

  1. Wheeljack says:

    If Optimus had simply said, “Sentinel Prime must be stopped… No matter the cost,” then this movie qualifies as having an “Oh Shit!!!” moment. Instead we get, “We will kill them all.” Optimus Prime would never say this. May as well tattoo him up and schedule him to fight Brock Lesnar at the next UFC pay per view…

  2. Springer says:

    Seriously, this was almost as bad as when the WWF had Rikishi be the “man who ran over Steve Austin.”

    I ask you Badger, who wins in a battle royale between old Prime and new Prime? Isn’t that the “Rocky vs. Drago” for a new generation?

  3. I understand what you’re trying to say. It did trouble me that Prime executed Sentinel and Megatron in cold-oil. It makes him just as bad as them in some ways. I think it just shows how far downward the events of the film have pushed Prime. He was already a more violent mech than the G1 version, and on top of that his father figure turns on him, he’s declared a rebel and exiled from his new home, and because of the events from both sides of the war their planet has been destroyed. Still, I would have liked it more if Prime had found some way to redeem Sentinel or even Megs instead of just murdering them.
    Though I think in part they were killed off because this is supposedly the last film and the filmmakers didn’t want to leave any villains unaccounted for. That’s why I’m thinking EVERY major ‘Con was killed.
    All this said I do want to say that I disagree with your evaluation of the movie itself, I don’t believe it sucked. I was actually very impressed by how it rose above ‘Fallen’ (even if Prime was a killer). Though of course that is your own opinion of the film and it’s completely understandable.

    • aznbadger says:

      Thanks for commenting, I really appreciate you voicing your opinion. While I do feel that Dark of the Moon was far superior to Revenge of the Fallen, in all honesty both films suffer from MAJOR pacing and tone issues that make for emotionally jarring and, at times, boring films. DOTM was a better movie, but had I not the obligation to see it as a lifelong Gen 1 fan, I probably would’ve spared myself the full ticket price.

  4. Sean Parker says:

    Yeesh, glad I skipped out on the sequels!

    It really is sad to see such a betrayal of character. I think you’re totally right about where the bloodthirstiness is coming from: US Military partnering and nearly a decade of Call of Duty. Great for the kiddies!

    • aznbadger says:

      Yeah, it kind of sucks being a diehard old-school Transformers fan. I went to see both of the sequels, knowing well in advance just how bad they were; simply out of obligation. Anyway, congratulations on your recent award, any plans for the near future?

      • Sean Parker says:

        We’re writing out ideas for a new feature, but I’m also thinking about starting a heavy web presence. Getting some short videos made for the web crowd, getting a full site and blog running, all that stuff. You know, just following in the footsteps of the Azn Badger.

      • aznbadger says:

        Given how much success you had in raising funds for the Coup through web promotion, I’d say developing a significant web presence is both advisable, and well within reach! Let me know if you want a hand spitballing ideas or what have you.

  5. Huh? says:

    All I can say aznbadger is THANK YOU. I’m glad there’s people who saw these movies and knows how much they fucked up Prime’s character. I grew up remembering him as a peaceful roll model who fought only out of neccesity, not a character out of fucking Die Hard. Optimus Prime is pretty much a sociopath by the end of the trilogy. What hero (especially one like Optimus) would say “Give me your face!” or “You die!”??? That’s not a character that is admirable or likeable or even interesting. I say a hero without morals is not someone I can emotionally invest in. Unfortunately, there are WAY too many people out there who thing how Optimus was acting was a good thing! “Hurrr the Decepticons deserved it cuz they are evil and they kill people.” Well, if I’m not mistaken, the Decepticons were the ones who took prisoners. I mean I know they’re evil but is decapitating Megatron after he spares you and offers a true a hero’s response? It’s things like that that seperate the good guys from the bad guys.

  6. acketwound says:

    I know G1 is serious business for people who grew up with it, but if you missed out the fact that these movies are legitimately satirical (in numerous ways) and that you’re not supposed to be rooting for Optimus (Megatron is an asshole too, but the one fighting for his race with a real reason to loathe humanity should probably get more sympathy), you won’t enjoy the movies. Realize when you say things like “the first movie got Optimus mostly right”, what you are doing is coming into the movie with a preconceived idea of what you want to see, which is not going to gel with what Bay seems to be doing. There’s evidence in all four movies now that Optimus is an out of control sociopathic self absorbed killer, whose main desire is to be worshiped by humans while destroying his own race.
    Not saying you have to dig this portrayal, but expecting Bay to be loyal to a cartoon and fandom he dislikes is only going to set you up for disappointment.
    For context I’ve seen essentially every TF series and I adore the Bayverse take on Optimus for completely different reasons than I enjoy, say, Animated Optimus or BW’s Primal.

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