The Transformers franchise is one of the great franchises from the 80’s and is still as popular today as it was thirty years ago. When Hasbro wanted to introduce a new line of figures in time for the 1986 Christmas season, they needed a way to weed out the previous characters. A decision was made to make a movie to help bridge the gap. And that film would go on to be a classic. Let’s celebrate the 30th Anniversary of Transformers: The Movie.
I have said this before and I’ll say it again. It is energon, not blood, that flows through the veins of I, Devildriver1313. I have been a fan of Transformers ever since the beginning and the Transformers: The Movie, to me, still remains the film that changed the course of 80’s and 90’s cartoons. Set 20 years after the events of the TV series’ second season in 2006, Transformers: The Movie served to bridge into the third season. Set to a soundtrack of synth-based incidental music and hard-driving metal music, composed by Vince DiCola, the film has a decidedly darker tone than the television series, with detailed visuals in Toei Animation’s typical anime film styling, and like G.I. Joe: The Movie, Decepticon villains that are more menacing, killing without hesitation. Free from the confines of television, the film depicted the deaths of several characters. For example, in the first ten minutes, Megatron leads a team of Decepticons to attack an Autobot shuttle headed toward Earth and viciously kills all its occupants, all set to a heavy metal soundtrack. At the scene’s end, Megatron callously blasts Ironhide in the head at point blank range when the Autobot makes a final desperate plea. In the film, Megatron kills Optimus Prime and much of the cast of the television series and is reborn as Galvatron. The decision to have Optimus die came after Hasbro was approached by the writers of G.I. Joe: The Movie, also produced by Sunbow/Marvel who did both film simultaneously, about killing of the Duke character. Hasbro agreed and insisted that Optimus Prime receive the same treatment. Hasbro would suffer a severe backlash from Optimus Prime’s death which forced them to bring Optimus back in the two-part Season 3 finale “The Return of Optimus Prime” after the staff had already finished the season. This backlash would also lead to the writers of G.I. Joe: The Movie to change Duke’s fate to him being in a coma instead.
While several Autobots died on screen, there are virtually no permanent Decepticon deaths in the film aside from Starscream who was vaporized by Galvatron. A handful were rebuilt by Unicron and others were scripted but did not make the final cut. For example, Shockwave’s death was scripted but cut from the finished film; however, a rather different-colored Shockwave makes a couple of appearances in the season premiere sequel “Five Faces of Darkness”. Remaining Seekers Dirge, Thrust, and Ramjet were supposed to have been killed by Unicron but appeared in later episodes. Starscream would also return as ghost before he is fully resurrected by Unicron.
Transformers: The Movie was released in August 8, 1986 and grossed $5,849,647 which made it the 99th highest-grossing movie of 1986. But Hasbro lost $10 million on the combined poor performance of this, and their previous collaboration with De Laurentiis Entertainment Group (DEG), My Little Pony: The Movie. It forced the producers of these films to send G.I. Joe: The Movie direct-to-video and scrap a Jem film then in development. Despite this, Transformers has gone on to become a cult classic, regarded by fans as being better than the current live action films by Michael Bay. The death of Optimus Prime still resonates with fans today with it being stated as “defining moment in cartoons.” This is likely due to the era in which this happened where the hero is not supposed to die, but live to fight another day. The death scene itself in the film was very dramatic. Vince DiCola set the mood perfectly with a piano and synthesizer combo that pulled at the heart strings and made you feel for the Autobots gathered around their dying hero.
Stan Bush’s “The Touch” would become an icon in its own right. Several versions of the song have appeared over the years and has been featured in shows outside of Transformers. Mark Wahlberg’s character performed the song in the 1997 film Boogie Nights. The song also appeared on a 2008 episode of Chuck entitled “Chuck Versus Tom Sawyer”, as well as a 2010 episode of American Dad! entitled “Cops and Roger”, during an 80s-film style montage. “The Touch” even made it to video game, being featured in “Guitar Hero World Tour” and “Rock Band” as a DLC. The song reappeared in the Transformers universe. Agent Fowler listens to an instrumental version of the song in the Transformers Prime episode “Nemesis Prime” before he is attacked by the titular character of that episode. Trailers for Transformers: Fall of Cybertron and the game’s end credits prominently featured both the 2007 version and 2012 Power Mix remix of the song. Optimus Prime’s “One shall stand; one shall fall” line would be quoted for years to come and has become a part of the Transformers Universe.
Transformers: The Movie has stood the test of time, staying just as popular today as it has years ago. The children who witnessed the death of a hero have grown up yet that moment still remains prominent in their hearts. The movie’s memorable lines are still quoted today by fans old and new, forever burned into our memories. Transformers: The Movie, like the series that spawned, has become an intricate part of our childhood and still is into our adulthood.
Opening scene shows us why Unicron is later referred to as The Chaos Bringer.
The battle between Optimus Prime and Megatron is perhaps the most memorable fight!
Megatron get reformatted into Galvatron.