Hey! I've got a question about Transformers heights. Are there any official (or about that) numbers for IDW universe? For example, for Megatron, members of DJD, Soundwave, Rewind, etc... Thank you!
Nothing official! The subject came up during the MTMTE panel at the British convention TFNation last year, and @markerguru001 explained that he had relative heights for the characters (Roller, Megatron, Tarn are the “big” ones and about the same, the small ‘bots like Rewind, Swerve, Tailgate, were described as being “at about crotch level” on bigger ‘bots, etc) but no specific numbers. We’ve tagged him into this post, perhaps he can expand!
Level 1- You liked the Velvet Underground and while you wanted to explore Lou’s solo work, you really haven’t expanded upon anything beyond Transformer. “Perfect Day” is your favorite song or wait no maybe its “Satellite of Love.” You constantly joke about the unholy trinity. You hang on to every half-assed recollection that Mick Rock can offer up. Oh and Lou definitely had a crush on Bowie you just know it.
Level 2- Berlin is your fave album. “It’s his masterpiece that the critics never understood” you proclaim, despite the fact its generally regarded by most today as his best album. You see yourself superior to those who like Transformer. Lou plods across the stage wearing ill-fitting leather which of course, he subsequently rips but you don’t care. The pudgy, sweaty, makeup smeared Lou of this era has stolen your heart.
Level 3- You’re such an edge lord that you were born wearing a leather jacket, sunglasses, whilst Metal Machine Music wailed in the background. So long to the chubby Dr Frank-n-Furter reject, Lou has transformed into the bleached speed queen he was always destined to be. Like Lou, you may have even briefly bleached your hair for a second. The only person that could possibly outwit and out bitch Lou was none other than Lester Bangs. You constantly praise Lou’s snarky rude responses to interviewers even though he basically just ripped off Andy Warhol. Don’t forget to buy your black nail polish.
Level 4- Coney Island Baby is your favorite album. Like Lou, you lament having wanting to play football for the coach even though your uncoordinated nonathletic self would have gotten your ass handed to you. You actively search across the internet looking for any clues as to whatever happened to Rachel. You may possibly know the lyrics to “Street Hassle” but we all know “Disco Mystic” is the true masterpiece. Hey remember when Lou punched Bowie for having the balls to tell him to clean himself up?
Level 5- The era of the “average guy straight as a whistle” Lou. The recently reformed, rehabbed, remarried Lou is ready to appeal to the MTV generation and has a handful of poppy songs that detail the monotonous trivial plights of everyday life, because hey he’s an average guy. No longer the bitchy speed queen of yesteryear, 80s Lou can be summed by one quote “hey, don’t settle for walkin”
Level 6- Unlike those in Level 5 you despise 80s Lou and welcome his return to form with his “New York” album. You worship at the holiness that is his mullet and cry while listening to “Songs for Drella.”
Level 7- You totally excuse Lou’s part in the failed Velvet Underground reunion and blame his wife. But hey, Lou sending a fax to John telling him to go fuck himself will always be gold. You actually listened to his 90′s albums…Harry’s Circumcision anyone?? (bonus points if you actually bought the albums and willingly listened to them more than once)
Level 8- A rat terrier named Lolabelle is your idol and is far cooler than Lou will ever be. You try your best not to cringe when looking at the album cover for Ecstasy and silently chastise Lou for “the Raven.”
Level 9- You listen to Hudson River Wind Meditations everyday as you practice your tai chi
I think it’s deeply formative for people to be able to interact with works of art and literature so actively, not only through the act of writing but, thanks to new platforms, of sharing their work and receiving feedback on it. It’s an homage to beloved writers and their characters (adaptations have been expanding on secondary characters or transforming protagonists for centuries, and the fanfiction way is one of the most entertaining and diverse available), an exercise in style, a democratisation of writing, publishing, and reviewing, and an exponential expansion of the dialogue created between texts, cultures—that dialogue that pervades any written works, intertextuality.
I haven’t read or written any fanfiction in ages, but I still look upon it with a lot of admiration and tenderness. I also think it’s a rich and fascinating field for research—I’m not against looking into it at one point if I ever become an academic. I mean, I’m a sucker for literary interpretation and literary adaptations and appropriations, anyway.
One of the people who contacted us after taking the @fansplaining Definitions Survey was @a-big-apple. They wrote us an email, which we have permission to publish and respond to here, since we won’t be able to read it on air:
Hi Elizabeth and Flourish! (Imagine this greeting in a sing-song voice.)
am a faithful listener, but this is the first time I’ve had a moment
free while my thoughts about fannish things are fresh enough to write to
you. I took your fanfiction definition survey and thoroughly enjoyed
it, but by the end I still wasn’t sure I had solidified my own
definition of what is and isn’t fanfiction. Now I am on a bus on my way
to visit a dear friend who is also a fan, and I’m listening (belatedly)
to episode 46 of Fansplaining, in which you talk about your answers to
the survey questions. I have so many opinions related to defining
fanfiction, and I wanted to share them with you!
Let me start by saying that my history with fanfiction is a fairly long
one. I agree with the sentiment that many fans in their 30s and older
didn’t know about or have access to fan communities, and that doesn’t
make the stories they wrote in isolation not-fanfiction. I was one of
those kids! I still have self-insert fics I wrote at the age of 8, the
year the first Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie came out, in which I
styled myself as their roommate/friend/nurse and cared for their wounds
after battles with Shredder. The internet didn’t exist for me yet, and I
was too young to connect with fans at conventions or through zines, but
I was certainly writing fanfiction. Later on in the 90’s, I graduated
to Gargoyles webrings (oh, those proud webring banners all the fan pages
had!) and a cool project that maybe one or both of you remember in
which Gargoyles fans organized themselves and wrote continuing “seasons”
of the show in fanfiction and fanart form. I can’t for the life of me
remember what it was called, but I thought everyone working on that was
the absolute coolest kid in school.
I’m now 35, and have continued to write fanfiction in many corners
of the internet, most recently on AO3 in the Yuri!!! On Ice fandom
(bless that show, honestly). Just this week I had an encounter, largely
pleasant, with a fellow fan who was reading through the entirety of my
Fullmetal Alchemist fics on AO3 and leaving lovely comments as they
went. That was great, except for one comment that got my back up a
little: they wondered why a particular (multi-chapter Big Bang) fic had
only 8 kudos when it so clearly, in their opinion, deserved more. They
posited that it might be because I had posted the whole story in one
day, implying (I think) that if I had been more strategic and stretched
it out over weeks, it might have gotten more attention.
I explained in my reply that it was actually quite an old story that had
all the attention I could have wanted for it on Livejournal, back when
the FMA fandom was still going strong, and that I put all of my old fics
on AO3 in one big dump just for the sake of completion, and so that
people who liked my stories could find more if they wanted to. It was a
simple, one-and-done exchange of comments, but it stuck with me. I’ve
noticed that in my corners of fandom (AO3 and tumblr) recently, there
has been a big push for people to comment and leave kudos and show
appreciation for fanfiction. I know you both have talked about that on
your podcast before, and it’s become more and more a part of the
Discourse ™ that I see online. I am all for positivity and showing
appreciation, and getting comments and kudos on my work does make me
smile, but the suggestion that I post stories in a certain way in order
to rack up more kudos makes me so irrationally angry.
My gut reaction is that I don’t need outside validation. I don’t WANT
outside validation. I write fanfiction because I love to write, and
because I am a fan, and because the act of exploring/expanding/fixing/reimagining/transforming
existing works feels like a form of protest–against the patriarchy,
against the media, against the literary canon, against everything that
tells me the kinds of stories I like are lesser because they don’t
follow writing rules, or because they’re kinky, or because they’re
queer, or because they’re not published and professional. Seeking
outside validation, even from other fans, feels at odds with that
protest. I’ll take kudos gladly when they come, often a positive
response to my stories makes me feel less alone and like we fans are all
in this terrible world together! But in my heart I’m writing in the
underground, and I don’t want to be told how to value my labors of love.
This is turning into a longer email than I intended, but I have
FEELS. This all comes back to defining fanfiction because anything that
comes from or is picked up and valued by The Establishment is not
fanfiction to me. Once a fic has been touched by the hands of
publishers, for instance, it is fundamentally changed. I love books, I’m
a children’s bookseller, but publishing in America still has so many
problems that have yet to be solved. Media in America (and other places
too) just generally has so many problems. Fanfiction does too, because
source material and societal norms propagate these problems, but at
least fanfiction with problems is a rebellion. (Though Yuri!!! On Ice
seems like a step in the right direction.)
If you’ve read all the way to this point, then wow! The teal deer is:
fanfiction is protest. I’m looking forward to your next episode, as
always! Thank you for all of your work, opinions, discussion, and for
keeping it real in the face of a fucked up world.
What a rallying cry for fandom! Of course it’s not always revolutionary…of course there are problems with it…of course there’s a lot to work through when it comes to how fanfiction functions in the world, but reading this is a refreshing reminder of the fact that doing anything to take time out of the rat race can be radical.
So, transform yourself first…Because you are young and have dreams and want to do something meaningful, that in itself, makes you our future and our hope. Keep expanding your horizon, decolonize your mind, and cross borders.
Form a relationship with these symbols to expand your consciousness. They are sentient tools - they have feelings.
They were ancient tools passed down from civilizations to civilizations. From the Sirians to the Yahyels then to others such as the Essassani.. and now to us!
These shapes are specifically designed to allow the neurological circuitry in your brain to rewire itself; to be representative to each and every one of these symbolic shapes. So that it may function in accord with the concept that is attendant to the shape. They will ultimately allow you to find your self and discover the truth to our Universe.
To have them assist you properly, you must do the following:
1. make flash cards of each symbol
2. Gaze (in a meditative state) for one minute at each shape for 15 minutes
3. Do this 3 days in a row. For the first 3 days, do it one card at a time, in order.
After the 3 days you may choose whichever order you wish or just meditate with which ever shape you think that may assist you.
They are skeletal neurological X-Rays of nature spirit; commune with them and they will commune with you.
“There is a belief that where information is abundant, there is a superabundance of memory. However, the present shows us that is not the case at all. Information is not memory. It does not contribute to memory, but rather works only in its own interest. And its interest is for everything to be immediately forgotten to then assert the unique, abstract truth of the present and then assert itself as the only one adapted to that truth. The more the facts abound, the more the feeling of its undifferentiated equality imposes itself. And the capacity also expands to transform its endless juxtaposition into the impossibility to conclude, to read in the facts the meaning of a story.”
Jacques Rancière, from Film Fables (Bloomsbury Academic, 2006)
“The danger of LSD is not physical or psychological, but social-political. Make no mistake: the effect of consciousness-expanding drugs will be to transform our concepts of human nature, human potentialities, existence. The game is about to be changed, ladies and gentlemen. Man is about to make use of that fabulous electrical network he carries around in his skull. Present social establishments had better be prepared for the change. Our favorite concepts are standing in the way of a flood tide 2 billion years building up. The verbal dam is collapsing. Head for the hills, or prepare your intellectual craft to flow with the current.” - Timothy Leary, The Politics of Ecstasy
New street signs put Toronto's Indigenous history front and centre
The signs on some of Toronto’s best-known streets are getting a makeover, but the names they bear aren’t new — in fact, they’re thousands of years old.
It’s a movement begun at the height of the Idle No More movement in 2013 by artists and activists Hayden King and Susan Blight through a project called Ogimaa Mikana. As part of an effort to reclaim Toronto’s Indigenous history, the two made stickers with Indigenous translations of Toronto street names, plastering them over the English signs.
Now, three years later, “official” signs are cropping up across the city, with four of Toronto’s major streets now bearing signs with their Anishinaabe names.
The signs officially went up Friday as part of a joint initiative by Ogimaa Mikana and the Dupont by the Castle Business Improvement Area (BIA).
Stuart Grant, chair of the BIA, told CBC News the group was inspired to bring the signs to their area after seeing the hand-made ones by Ogimaa Mikana online. After taking the idea to the city, Grant says, the group started work on the signs’ designs.
“These were the names thousands of years ago when the First Nations people were here,” Grant told CBC News.
“By doing this, it shows that the First Nations people are still here. We’re still on their land. We share it but we’re still on their land,” Grant said.
On its website, Ogimaa Mikana says it hopes “to restore Anishinaabemowin place-names to the streets, avenues, roads, paths and trails of Gichi Kiiwenging (Toronto).”
The group hopes the signs will expand throughout the city, “transforming a landscape that often obscures or makes invisible the presence of Indigenous peoples.”
2. I decided to become a painter. No one asked me to do this.
3. Becoming a painter is my way of deciphering the codes of visual
information and experience that structure capitalism in our time.
4. Deciphering the codes also means rethinking the implied values of those codes.
5. I was never a doodler. (I never drew idly, playfully, without
self-judgment and insecurity, for fun. Even as a small child I broke
crayons from pressing too hard, and learned quickly that my artistic
efforts would be judged harshly.)
6. I was not told I had artistic potential.
7. I am a 37 year old woman with no children and no intention of
having children. The significance of this decision is simply that my
investment in the future is necessarily different, less personal. I do
not have children, but I do have students. I worry for them. I wonder
what kind of a world they are growing up into. What they understand of
the world and what they will make of their understanding.
8. Painting is an activity that takes place within quotidian time,
and has the ability to expand and transform clock time beyond the
everyday, toward the eternal.
9. This movement toward the eternal has been critiqued as Romantic,
but is as realist and banal as keeping one’s hands in warm dishwater on a
sunny afternoon. The decision to space out – to get lost in a moment is
an always available decision.
10. My paintings do not have value because they are in the museum.
They have value because they are in dialogue with and a continuation of
11. This dialogue involves careful looking at and questioning of
paintings in museums, in studios, in galleries, in homes, and response
in my own work, sometimes pictured as thrashing, flailing argument,
sometimes illustrative, sometimes critically dialectical and sometimes
12. I believe in painting as a meaningful act.
13. I believe in painting as a desperate, stupid, time-wasting act
involving huge, crippling ambition and necessary and near-constant
failure. This too is meaningful.
14. To fail interestingly one must understand the stakes of one’s endeavor and try to achieve something against certain odds.
15. The stakes of painting are both universal and personal.
16. The history of painting is parallel to, and provides a bodily, always-contemporary narrative of the history of civilization.
17. To make paintings one must take seriously the triumph and tragedy of civilization.
18. The continuation of civilization belongs to anyone who has the
courage to imagine herself an implicated participant in its history.
19. To make an important painting one must posit oneself as a person of consequence.
20. A person of consequence tries to understand the possible effects of her actions.
21. I know what I do, but I do not know what what I do, does.
22. One of the tragedies of civilization is that we have believed and continue to believe that one is born into the position of being a person of consequence.
23. Understanding the unruly effects of one’s actions as an
individual enmeshed in a complex global situation is impossible and thus
one must constantly reconcile oneself to the ruinous effects of most
24. I am aware that most of my action is harmful. (Richard Rorty’s
definition of a liberal is someone who tried to do the least harm.)
25. Most human endeavors are enacted with the arrogance of a false person of consequence who believes that they do right.
26. A painter knows that to do no harm is impossible. (This knowledge
is arrived at through the consistent experience of preparing a pure,
white surface and muddying it, messing it up, adding and subtracting in a
process of working out the drives to destroy and create, and the shame
of these drives.)
27. A painter knows that civilization is untenable.
28. To stand up and assert oneself as a person of consequence is to
assert a distrust in universal human values, (in ambivalent favor of the
individual perspective) and the simultaneous necessity of continuing to
teach and perform universal values as well as their critique in the
hope of future generations finding better resolutions to impossible
29. I often don’t know if I am whispering but should be yelling or vice versa. This is a painting problem.
30. Painting reminds me of my actual size.
31. For all of the above reasons, painting can be an avant-garde act.
32. In the past the avant-garde has tried to keep up with technological “progress” in an effort to critique it.
33. Today, the avant-garde has trouble locating itself or its purpose.
34. I believe the painter, contending with gravity, materiality,
action and history, is best equipped to articulate the goals of the
35. The problem of attention is addressed by painting.
36. The problem of containment is located within painting.
37. The problem of time is felt in painting.
38. When I stand before a painting and am able to bring my whole self
to the experience, I feel the arrested time, which is felt as my own
39. This is different from the experience of photography, which is
also arrested time, but stopped by a mechanical or digital device.
40. The effort of the painter to stop time with her own hands, in the
face of history, hurts more, but the pain is empowering, not
41. Feeling one’s own death is the beginning of developing a sense of the consequences of one’s actions.
42. Painting at its best is utterly demanding, cruel, and hopeful.
43. A painting asserts its own criteria for success or failure. The painting itself tells you how it wishes to be judged.
44. Paintings ask for judgment. This is their gift. How do they do this?
45. They sit completely still.
46. Even when they attempt to ingratiate themselves, by trendy color
or shiny surfaces, they carry the awareness of how short-lived their
charms will be.
47. Janus-faced, paintings look backward and forward in perplexed, stony silence.
48. At times painting is passionately committed to its history, and
sometimes, nostalgically resigned to its pastness, but always, painting
49. Often painting is anticipatory, excitable, and enthusiastically
bad, while being as present and happy to be here as a preteen at a
slumber party, but always, painting looks forward.
50. Though strongly held positions may appear arrogant, dogmatic and
single-minded, to adopt and substantiate a critical attitude is in fact
the most humble of gestures since such positions pre-suppose their own negation.
51. Painting is a strongly held position.
52. The purpose of holding a strong position is to offer open invitation to dissenting critical thought.
53. The painter’s goal with respect to the future is to stay relevant without becoming absorbed.
54. This means keeping pace with (dirtying oneself on) the organizing
forces of capitalism (social, economic) without giving into them. Ie
not just being a symptom, but exercising discipline, moderation,
restrained investment sometimes, and decadence, porosity, and the wild flail other times.
55. In painting, one has a conversation with oneself that is in some
ways the same as the conversation with the world. The difference is
similar to the distinction between speech and writing.
56. In speech, one cannot take something back.
57. In writing, one changes one’s mind privately, and presents a reasoned argument publicly.
58. In painting, the difference is that the accumulated evidence of
changing one’s mind is allowed to remain as build-up, as density, or
59. This sedimentation is what I am calling human.
60. In relationships with others, this sedimentation is often heavy,
angry, resentful. Things said and taken back reside in memory and are
not easily discharged.
61. In a painting practice, this long conversation with the self
(which is a conversation with all the others encountered in one’s life,
and internalized,) is manifest, present in time and space as a whole, as
an alternate body: the body of work.
62. The body of work is evidence of the work of living.
63. The work of living is different from making a living, which is
obligatory, and a strange euphemism for the giving up of part of one’s
life to the activity of paying for that life.
64. Painting is a paradoxically elite activity precisely because when
fully engaged as a critical, lifelong practice, the painter gives up all of her life to this practice.
65. All work, including washing dishes, sewing clothing, devising
advertising campaigns and building IPhones can be meaningful, but
capitalism has chosen to segregate these practices into a hierarchy of
66. Work typically done by women, with the hands, is not valued.
67. Work done in factories, with machines and hands, now mainly in China, is not valued.
68. Work done in the home, such as washing dishes or raising children is not valued.
69. Work done on the farm, with machines and hands, is not valued.
70. We do not value work because we do not value ourselves. And we
regard the objects made and lived with as depressed, depleted mirrors of
our sorry self-hatred.
71. We then make up new/old categories such as artisanal, and make
cocktails, handbags and nouveau cuisine for the wealthy as a
72. This does not compensate. Some people have lifestyle and many exist in poverty to support that lifestyle.
73. The dream of abstract painting in the 20th century was
a dream of whole people, whose senses weren’t fragmented, whose vision
was complete, who made paintings with their hearts and minds and bodies
74. This dream is still a dream, not yet a reality, and ever-receding.
75. This dream is foolish and necessary, and the wholeness of its
vision is what makes it foolish, and the wholeness of its vision is what
makes it necessary.
76. Keeping a foolish dream alive makes one a fool.
77. Society has always needed fools: the fool is both self-electing and made from without, by the society.
78. The fool bears the shame of society’s fears. The fool is a scapegoat.
79. The painter today is a fool.
80. The painter today becomes familiar with shame. The hot flush of
shame, the constriction of muscles, the desperate need to hide. The
painter accepts these feelings and holds them, and smiles warmly.
81. The painter gives a gift that is unwanted and even hated.
82. The gift the painter gives is the very human meaning of engaging in a useless and unjustifiable activity.
83. It is simply this. There is no justification for what I do.
84. I’ll say it again. I do nothing useful to justify my existence,
and yet I believe I deserve to exist. All life deserves this unjustified
85. Painting is an utterly useless activity.
86. And yet, painting gives my life meaning.
87. Painting is the language of form and space that reminds me that I am made of the same stuff as the world.
88. I am hard and soft, gentle and dense and dispersed, bright and
sharp, contrasting and undulating, acidic and toxic and soothing. As is
89. I paint to step away from myself and realize that I am one with myself.
90. I paint to step away from the world and realize that I am one with the world.
91. I paint to forget everything I know.
92. I paint to remember again, everything I dismembered, and to become a member of something new, which was there all along.
93. I choose, each time as though for the first time, to think and teach and write and love as a painter.
94. The movement through the 95 theses is an agonistic, difficult
process I go through again and again, mostly forgetting that there is
relief and containment at the end.
Monster Office I expanded on the office transformation scene for another sample.
In this scene our human protagonist has severed ties with their monstrous employer. While they have been successful in relocating it has been difficult to keep a job. It seems the magic from the contract has not quite fully rubbed off.
Five reasons why an Expanded Transformers Cinematic Universe is an awful idea. And five why it's great.
If you’re a Transformers fan, you’ve
probably heard that writer/producer Akiva Goldsman will be overseeing
the the expansion of a Cinematic Transformers Universe, as Bay takes
a bow from the director’s seat. (Supposedly.) This is somewhat of a
mixed bag of feelings for me, as I’m not sure what to make of it.
There’s good and bad in there, and well… It makes sense. Paramount
wants a franchise universe they can rally behind. They want a Marvel
Universe. (Especially since they HAD it for a while there.) Sony gets
to be friends-with-benefits with Paramount’s old beau, as well as the
recently announced Ghostbusters universe, Warner Bros. has the DC
universe, along with whatever plans come out of the Harry Potter
spinoff books. Fox has Marvel’s X-Men and Fantastic Four, as well as
Avatar. Paramount has Mission: Impossible, but that’s still reliant
on Tom Cruise, and hoping that M:I5 isn’t another M:I3. They also
have the Star Trek franchise… But that last movie underperformed.
(Bit of trivia, it’s the only Star Trek movie, other than
Insurrection, that I didn’t see in the theater. And at least with
that one, it was simply because I never got around to it. But when it
came on video, I made sure to see it.) Paramount making a
Transformers Cinematic Universe can be an awesome… And an awful
thing. I’m not trying to change anyone’s mind. After all, this is the
internet and if we wanna hate (or love), we will. But I wanna go over
my thoughts and concerns with the topic at hand.
Let’s start off with the bad, because
I’m generally an optimistic person and want to leave off with a
WHY IT COULD SUCK:
5: It may not change anything.- Okay,
let’s get this out of the way. While I enjoyed the movies, I was
never under any pretense that they were brilliant pieces of cinema.
But a movie studio, the bottom line is how much money does that movie
bring in? It doesn’t matter that the movies have a dwindling returns
domestically, as they go on. They make a lot of money over seas and
that’s all that matters. Age of Extinction was the highest grossing
movie of 2014… Beating the far superior ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’.
There’s no reason for them to believe the movies are flawed at all.
In fact, when what they make keeps making more and more money, the
logic to take from it is to give more of it. I mean, the second,
third and fourth movie was just the first movie… Just more of it.
(And good lord, that fourth movie was more of it. Was it ever going
to end?) So it’s likely these’ll just be more huge explosions and
action movies. There’s no reason for the studio to want anything but
more of the same. And it reasons they’ll find directors and writers
who’ll feel the same way.
4: Have you see Akiva Goldsman’s track
record?- Batman and Robin? That’s his writing. That horrible Will
Smith 'I, Robot’ movie? Him again. Writer AND producer of 'Lost in
Space’ (which is only notable for knocking Titanic out of the #1 spot
for a week or two.) Producer of Jonah Hex, The Losers and some of the
bad Paranormal Activity movies. Now he’s also responsible for a lot
of good stuff too. He was the producer of Cinderella Man, which was
really good. He was also the producer of the fun “Mr. and Mrs.
Smith”, the really fun (and surprisingly better Superman movie than
the actual Superman movie) Hancock, and was one of the people behind
making the Fox show Fringe really fun and enjoyable. It’s a mixed
bag. It doesn’t make him a hack, but it also means that he’s not the
best judge of quality. Sometimes he strikes black gold and
sometimes… It’s dark and stinky, but it ain’t oil.
3: It’s a wide universe that’ll be
ignored.- It’s hard for non-Transformers fans to believe, but the
Transformers Universe is actually one of the largest fictional
universes ever made. Not THE largest, but I would be very comfortable
placing it lower on a top ten list. Because every one of of those
toys has a story behind it. Go to the toy store and find a
Transformers toy. (Odds are, it’s probably a Robots in Disguise or
Combiner Wars toys.) Grab one at random. Who did you grab? Some guy
named Skydive? Well, Skydive is the quiet intellectual of the
Aerialbots. He’s the shy nerdy librarian, that the internet would
consider adorkable. He’s part of the first Autobot combiner teams,
and the sole survivor of the attack by the returned G2 Megatron. He
and Slingshot once helped a sexy Middle Eastern prince regain his
throne from a giant purple griffin (Hey, it was the 80s, man.) He and
the rest of the Aerialbots were also there not just during the start
of the Great War, witnessing the birth of Optimus Prime, thanks to
time travel. And was also there to witness the revolution of the
Cybertronians from the horrible Lovecraftian Quintessons, also thanks
to time travel. (Guys get around more than a Time Lord!) And that’s
just Skydive! Want me to tell you about Fireflight? What about
Powerglide? Bombshell… Ohhh God, Bombshell. I could go on for hours
about that buggy bastard! My point is that every single Transformer
has a backstory and a history. It may be only implied by a few lines
on the back of a card, or it may be in depth and intricate. But every
single toy is a character with a past and a story. And there are
literally THOUSANDS of them… And NONE of that matters, because
you’re gonna get Bumblebee. What you don’t like Bumblebee? Well, have
more Bumblebee! Little sick of him? More 'Bee for the fans! It’s like
the X-Men movies. There’s a wide variety of X-Men that they could
have picked from to tell rich and involving stories from… And we
end up having them all focus on Wolverine. We’re only just now, 15
years into the Fox’s handling of the franchise getting a movie that
DOESN’T have Wolverine in it. (That we know of.) Kup, Sunstreaker,
Ultra Magnus… Who are they? Don’t matter, because to Paramount,
Bumblebee and Optimus Prime ARE the franchise. And since they’re
special effects and not actors that age and want to quit, they can
keep going with them forever.
2. Your favorite stories are about to
change.- As an addendum to the last point… Hey, remember Days of
Future Past, where it was changed from being a Kitty Pryde story to a
Wolverine time travels to the past to team up with a smelly hippie
and frees Kennedy’s assassin for some dumb reason, all to save
Katniss from killing Tyrion Lannister from making giant robots that
he ended up making anyway, all while ignoring the one awesome
highlight of the movie that could have solved every problem from the
word go? Man, that movie was dumber than I remember. Anyway, how much
fun will it be when Last Stand of the Wreckers now star Bumblebee, as
opposed to Springer and tells how he lost his voice. Or when they
adapt War Dawn, War for Cybertron, and the War Within and mash them
all together into one movie that stars just Optimus and Bumblebee? Or
when they finally have major characters like Prowl, Rodimus and
Windblade show up in the movie, only to die real fast to give our
heroes pathos. (If they’re lucky.) The idea behind a cinematic
universe is great, when you actually explore it. Star Trek was
awesome at this (in the 90s) where they’d make new shows based around
new captains and ships and stations. But really, I haven’t see this
done in a while. I mentioned all the X-Men movies all focus on
Wolverine. The upcoming Star Wars spinoffs are things like a young
Han Solo movie or a Yoda movie, as opposed to an Ahsoka Tano or even
a movie about Lobot. (Okay, I’D like to see a movie about Lobot.)
Even the Marvel movies can’t really seem to get away from the Hydra
and the Infinity Gem storyline they got going through their movies.
(One of the reasons I’m really looking forward to the Daredevil
series to see how they handle that.)
1. A lot of the beloved cast is dead.-
When we last checked into the cast in Age of Extinction, let’s see
the lineup here. Starscream? Dead. Ratchet? Dead. Lockdown? Dead. The
Wreckers? Dead. Ironhide? Dead. Shockwave? Dead. Soundwave? Dead.
Devastator? Dead. Cybertron? Dead. (And with it, Primus?) Optimus
Prime? Gone. Basically, at this time, on Earth… We only have
Bumblebee, Crosshairs, Hound, Drift, a bunch of Dinobots running
loose in the Chinese jungles, and Mega/Galvatron running free again.
THAT’S IT. Unless the Lost Light or the Steelhaven shows up, there’s
not a lot of stories to tell. And to be honest, it doesn’t look like
Paramount is too thrilled to tell stories that take place off Earth.
So yeah. At present, it doesn’t look too optimistic. But you know
what? Let’s take this in the opposite slant now…
WHY IT COULD BE AWESOME:
5. Everyone is dead, we HAVE to develop
new characters.- Here’s the thing, because we’ve got a cast of
Transformers smaller than most internet review shows, Akiva Goldsman
has no choice but to develop new characters and locations. Unless
Marky Mark finds Fortress Maximus in another movie theater, that
means more Transformers have to come to Earth… Or the movies have
to leave Earth. And eventually, (almost) all Transformers universes
lead to a certain planet eater. Kinda hard to have that showing up in
Chicago, huh? Yeah, Bumblebee will probably still be around… But
like Wolverine, other characters can easily steal the show. In First
Class and Days of Future Past, Mystique was a lot of people’s
favorite part of it. Sure the Avengers movies does seem to focus a
lot around Iron Man, despite him having his own movies… But hell,
if people don’t love Thor and Cap as well. If they’re looking for
movies with new characters, and if they can get over the Bumblebee
crutch… There’s a ton of great stories to adapt. Rodimus and the
Lost Light, Springer and the Last Stand of the Wreckers, Windblade,
the Decepticon Justice Division, the Beast Wars, Minicons, Isaac and
Sari Sumdac, and if they can find a way to bring him back…
Starscream running around on a reborn Cybertron, in charge and
claiming to be the chosen one is pure entertainment. Hell, even
telling Megatron’s history with peaceful protests, until Whirl came
along… In short, if they can overcome the Camaro-shaped shadow,
some really interesting stories can be told.
4. New talent.- Look, whether you like
the movies or not, it’s not hard to argue that basically we need a
fresh new take on the storyline. Erhen Kruger is not a very good
writer, with his only good movie being Arlington Road back in '99.
Michael Bay is obviously burnt out. Now’s the time to get some new
directors and writers in this. An expanded universe will allow for
some wonderful new takes on the series. Get Guillermo Del Toro on a
movie, or Brad Bird? How about even having Steven Spielberg himself
direct a movie? Or let’s bring some unknowns into this? Who would
have thought the director of 'Super’ would have made us feel sympathy
and love toward a walking tree that says only three words. Who would
have thought the directors of 'You, Me and Depree’ and 'Community’
would have made an amazing Captain America political thriller? I’m
sure there’s tons of directors in Hollywood and beyond who’s just
dying to have a shot at the Cybertronians. Not to mention, imagine a
screenplay written by James Roberts?
3. New directions.- Along with new
talent, we can have new directions. Look, regardless of whatever you
thought of the movies… They were pretty damn dark. And not for the
best. Sometimes, it’s okay to be fun. I appreciated Age of
Extinction, because it got to a Michael Mann-level of gallows humor.
But that’s me. We can have a more fun and lighthearted movie. We can
have a darker tales as well. We can have many different types of
stories, if Akiva Goldsman will actually understand that the
franchise is more than the four movies. If he’s aware and can
appreciate the other facets of the franchise, like the IDW or Marvel
comics, the Unicron Trilogy, Animated, Prime and the others… We
could have some amazing movies ahead of us. A Cinematic Universe
would allow for small cast episodes like that, as well as larger Lord
of the Rings quest-like movies too boot. This is a really good thing.
You have to have small adventures from time to time, otherwise the
large ones just seem silly after a while.
2. Fewer and fewer humans as time goes
on.- One thing that becomes apparent in all iterations of the
Transformers is that after a while, the writers begin to realize that
the Autobots and Decepticons (more on that in a second) can carry a
story without the humans around. More than Meets the Eye is almost
universally considered one of the best Transformers series ever made,
and the only humans that’s ever showed up the holoavatars, during a
story where Ultra Magnus got drunk. We all understand why the humans
need to be around, to give us the sense of scale and size… But
after a while, that scale is no longer needed. We just know. It
allows us to focus the story on the characters we want to care about,
as opposed to stopping the movie for a few minutes to explain the
creepy Romeo and Juliet law, in a movie about alien robots based on a
1: ACTUAL CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT!- This
is the big one. One of the frustrating things about the previous
movies is that other than Optimus, Bumblebee and Megatron… If you
were a Transformer, you might as well not expect any development in
characterization at all. What did we know about Ironhide, other than
he liked his guns? Or Sideswipe, who might as well been Ironhide in a
sexy corvette form. Or the Fallen, other than being a growly
Palpatine type. Or even Starscream? Did we ever really get much of
his treacherous backstabbery? He’s arguably one of the most iconic
villains in history, and we never got to see him once try and back
stab Megatron. This is really weak. I applaud Age of Extinction for
actually taking the time to develop Hound, Crosshairs and Drift for
actually taking the time to give them distinct personalities. (Even
though we never got a hint at all of Drift’s former Decepticon
past… Well, NOW we can explore that!)
Here’s the thing that all Transformers
fans know. The Transformers franchise is more than just an action
series. It’s a science fiction series with some really fun, and at
times, really intelligent writing behind it. Including some
interesting political themes. Ask anyone who reads the IDW comics and
get them to explain to you about what it means to be Cold Constructed
versus Forged? Or just WHY Megatron created the Decepticons? Ask them
about Caminus or the Thirteen Tribes? Ask about Conjunx Endruae or
just get them to explain to you why Swerve is awesome and Tarn is
scary. Transformers can be brilliant. And I’m not talking as a 30+
year fan of the toy, but as a life long fan of science fiction. We
KNOW it’s more than it seems on the surface. (I’m not saying that
catchphrase.) And if Akiva Goldsman pays attention to anything beyond
the first four movies… He’ll know it too. Or not.