The Transformers franchise is one that is very near and dear to the hearts of countless fans out there — fans who have sworn by the original ’80s cartoon series, and who hold the G1 Transformers to a very high standard. They collected the toys before collecting toys was cool. They cried when Optimus Prime died in the 1986 animated movie and they never understood why Megatron would keep Starscream around, a character who has tried to undermine and overthrow his master more times than anyone can count. These fans were very protective about the G1 Transformers, and that devotion was shaken to its core with the arrival of the live-action series of movies.
The Michael Bay-directed movies lit up the box office like few movies ever would, and their sheer popularity with the general audience led to a total of five movies… so far! The Transformers franchise is so massive that there are now plans for a cinematic shared universe, starting with a solo Bumblebee movie, which is currently in production. But don’t let this success fool you. Many fans of the original cartoons despise these movies, identifying them as pale reflections of the source material. Today, CBR visits the most hateful Transformers movies-hating Internet corners to list 15 movies versus cartoons memes.
15. EXPLOSIONS EVERYWHERE
Almost as soon as the Transformers were introduced on the silver screen, they were accompanied by fiery explosions that almost took up the entirety of their five films. It has reached the point that explosions have become synonymous with the franchise, something that isn’t lost on fans who would rather the movies focus on story and character.
This meme is a not-so-subtle jab at the notion that many Transformers, both good and bad, have had their cinematic lives cut short by explosions. In fact, many fan-favorite characters from the cartoons were added to the movies as nothing more than throwaway additions who would die without even being named or serve any kind of purpose. A lot of Transformers were lost in the films, and this meme is very aware of that fact.
14. INTRODUCING SHOCKWAVE
Shockwave was a fan-favorite Decepticon villain back in the original cartoons. He was an important character and featured prominently as a villain who was almost as recognizable as Megatron. When Shockwave was added to the large Transformers cast of the third installment in the franchise, Dark of the Moon, many hoped that the character would receive a starring role befitting his stature.
The character appeared early on in the film, and he had a design that was quite different than the usual Decepticon on the big screen. Shockwave was striking and fearsome, and we couldn’t wait to see him face off against the Autobots. And yet, his monster-like pet played a bigger role in the film. Shockwave took part in the final battle of the film, but Optimus Prime made easy prey of a villain that should have more than held his own against him.
13. TURNING INTO A G1 FAN
Most fans of the original cartoons are quite vocal about the fact that the Transformers movies showcase but a fraction of what the franchise is supposed to be. The five movies served as a way to introduce an incredibly large audience to characters and a mythology that they didn’t know before, and many thought that these films were a direct live-action adaptation of the cartoons.
However, the people who didn’t know the Transformers prior to Michael Bay’s movies could always go back and watch the G1 cartoons, as well as the original 1986 animated movie. And when they did, they discovered a universe filled with fun and heart, with characters they fell in love with. This meme is simply one way of telling fans of the movies that the cartoons are much, much better.
12. OPTIMUS PRIME LEADS THE CHARGE
Optimus Prime has always been one to deliver an inspiring speech. When the chips were down, when the Autobots were facing a losing battle, whether in the cartoons or in the movies, he would step up, and inspire his troops to keep on fighting. His speeches have almost become a staple of the Transformers, in whatever iteration they might appear – television, comics or movies.
Here, this meme pokes direct fun at this very notion. Showing Optimus Prime in his classic look, the caption illustrates a different kind of scene, and a different kind of battle. It recognizes director Michael Bay as the true villain the Transformers are facing. He is the one who has them on the ropes, and thanks to an impassioned speech by Optimus Prime, they just might rise up to defeat their enemy.
11. IRONHIDE IS DOOMED
Ironhide was obviously a fan-favorite Autobot during the G1 days. When the character died in the 1986 animated movie, his departure left many longtime fans reeling. It was a brutal death at the hands of Megatron and the Decepticons, one that was both shocking and devastating. Luckily, Ironhide would receive a starring role in the live-action Transformers movies, and he became a fan-favorite all over again.
However, it seems as if history was destined to repeat itself. Just like the animated movie, Ironhide was brutally killed by a Decepticon, this time in the form of the traitorous Sentinel Prime. The move was equally shocking and devastating to movie fans, and it was one of those rare times when fans of the cartoons and fans of the movies had one thing in common: sadness, after losing one of their favorites.
10. MEGATRON OR ULTRON?
Over the course of Michael Bay’s Transformers movies, the villainous Megatron went through a lot of different looks. His first design was kept mostly intact for the first three movies but, after dying, the villain first came back as Galvatron and, after that, he returned to life once more as Megatron in Tranformers: The Last Knight. However, this time, the Decepticon’s design looked quite familiar.
In the fifth Transformers film, many fans were quick to point out that Megatron’s new design looked an awful lot like another evil robot who graced the big screen – Avengers: Age of Ultron‘s titular villain, Ultron. The head design for both robots was very similar. This was all a bit ironic, considering that many fans said that Ultron looked like Megatron back when the Avengers sequel was first released.
9. BAD COMEDY
In the 1986 animated Transformers: The Movie, the ever power-hungry and equally devious Starscream proclaimed himself the new leader of the Decepticons after Megatron’s demise. However, Galvatron, the reincarnated version of Megatron, rushed to the scene in order to interrupt Starscream’s coronation. As he did so, Galvatron declared the entire scene “bad comedy” before destroying Starscream, reducing him to nothing but a pile of ash and metal.
The line “This is bad comedy,” as well as the scene it was lifted from, took on a life of their own for Transformers fans. It almost became a meme of its own, and of course G1 fans wouldn’t pass up an opportunity to declare that Michael Bay’s movies are themselves “bad comedy.” This is truly the most perfect meme to illustrate to dichotomy between cartoons and movies.
8. MEGATRON HAS A NEW TARGET
If Optimus Prime can inspire his fellow Autobots to fight for freedom with a rousing speech, then Megatron rules his own subjects, the Decepticons, through sheer fear. Many times over in the G1 cartoons, Megatron proved to be the exact opposite of Optimus Prime, letting his anger and hate get the best of him, driving him to be equally blunt and brutal. It’s what made him such a long-standing and popular villain.
This meme calls back to Megatron’s days of strangling fellow Transformers. Like Optimus Prime, this meme shows that G1 Megatron also recognizes Michael Bay as their one true enemy, and that he will use all the force necessary to stop him. But, in true Megatron fashion, not only does he want to stop him, he also wishes to make him suffer for what he has done to the beloved animated series.
7. OPTIMUS PRIME DIES AND LIVES AGAIN
The animated 1986 Transformers movie became famous for featuring the heartbreaking death of every fan’s favorite Autobot, Optimus Prime. The surprising turn of events was devastating for anyone watching, and it was one that became iconic for the franchise. Perhaps in a bid the emulate that feeling, the Michael Bay movies featured the death of Optimus Prime… quite a few times.
He was once truly killed by Megatron only to be brought back by the Matrix of Leadership, then he appeared to be dead in a bid to convince the world of the Decepticons’ true motives. After this, he went into deep sleep to evade capture when the Transformers became hunted, and he was frozen in space for a very long time while searching for his makers. Yet, every time, Optimus came back – meaning the movie never truly could cover the ground that the cartoons did.
6. MURDEROUS PRIME
The Snickers bar joke became a bit of a running gag on the Internet, and this meme is one perfect example of it. The basics are of showing a character who is acting completely out of character, and having a friend tell him or her to eat a Snickers bar to calm down. Then, once the candy bar has been consumed, the character reverts back to his real form.
Here, we see the Transformers movies version of Optimus Prime in all his murderous glory. The movies truly depicted Optimus as a force to be reckoned with, one who will not hesitate to kill all who stand in his way. This meme illustrates how out-of-character this trait actually is for Optimus. After being advised to have a Snickers by Sam, Optimus reverts to his true self: the cartoon version of Optimus Prime. And all is right with the world.
5. TRANSFORMERS PRIME
Most Transformers G1 fans truly believed that their version of the cartoon couldn’t be matched. They were the first to lament the failures of the live-action movies, declaring that they could never even come close to emulating the strong legacy of the popular toyline. And yet, the movies did manage to inspire the creation of a new animated series, Transformers Prime.
This new series blended elements from both the old cartoons and the movie universe to create something that was actually able to make the cartoon fans happy. It was something new, for sure, but it was actually seen as something much superior to the movies. This meme declares that this new cartoon series, one that came to be thanks to the movies, managed to surpass them entirely in terms of quality.
4. GRAB YOUR SURFBOARDS
The original Transformers cartoons meant a great deal to many people, and it wasn’t just because of the cool character moments and the non-stop action. It was also because, sometimes, the series just took the time to show Optimus Prime and the Autobots surfing the ocean. Of course, they weren’t doing this for fun, but because the situation called for it. And yet, that didn’t make the scene any less amazing.
The truth of the matter is, the movies never took the time to be this silly. Yes, giant robots on surfboards being chased by a tidal wave is incredibly silly, and yet the cartoons embraced that particular nature of the franchise. The movies were far darker and serious, and they simply won’t ever feature Optimus Prime cruising the high seas. And that’s a crying shame.
3. FOR THE GOOD OF THE TOYLINE
The Transformers aren’t just about movies or animated television series. They are also, very importantly, a massively popular line of toys. These toys were made popular back in the days of the original series, and they saw a very large return to popularity once the live-action movies hit theaters. The only problem is that, for collectors, the new toys focused greatly on Bumblebee.
This meme is a direct callback to a scene in Transformers: The Last Knight, when an evil Optimus Prime attempts to kill the popular Autobot, Bumblebee. The caption declares that the death of Bumblebee can only mean good things for the toyline. Thanks to the movies, Bumblebee became one of the most popular Transformers and he, much to the dismay of G1 fans, changed the face of the toyline.
2. A SIMILAR SITUATION
After the financial success of the Transformers films, Paramount looked to turn another beloved ’80s cartoon into an explosive and gritty movie franchise: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. The movie was produced (not directed) by Michael Bay and it received the same type of reaction that the Transformers movies did. Ninja Turtles was a financial success, but fans of the original cartoons despised it.
The above image might not be a meme in the clear sense of the word, but it is an original art piece that pokes direct fun at the fact that both the Transformers and the Ninja Turtles were ruined thanks to their recent cinematic turns. The image illustrates a classic-looking Optimus Prime offering support to an equally-classic-looking Raphael. Since the two were fundamentally changed in their movies, both share the same despair.
1. A MESSAGE OF PEACE
At the end of the day, it’s important to remember that it doesn’t really matter which version of the Transformers people should really prefer. Some will swear that G1 was the better universe, while others will say that they prefer the live-action movies. There are even others who will declare the animated series Transformers Prime as the best entry in the franchise.
But no matter how intensely one might feel about the version they prefer, it’s important to heed the message of Optimus Prime. After all, the message of Transformers was always one of unity, of inclusion and understanding. Optimus Prime would tell us that no matter what the fans prefer, they are all exactly that: fans. And they should realize that they are all the same: they love the Transformers!
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