So the Q&A with Orci and whatshisname is over now, and I managed to catch most of it, aside from a few technical problems, not unexpected since Yahoo were hosting it. The questions were obvious plants, but they covered the important things after all. They definitely were trying really hard to come across as fanboys, but it’s impossible to take them seriously no matter how sincerely they tried, just because Hollywood in general has long since lost any credibility it ever had.
So I’ll just discuss the one thing that really matters out of the little that they’ve been prepared to reveal so far –
- Optimus Prime – Of course we already knew this and its a given thing. The characterisation, and the voice actor, do seem to be spot on.
- Bumblebee – Does he really need to be a VW? I’m thinking not, as long as he’s yellow. After all, we have to believe that some kid just buys him as his first car, and there really aren’t many Beatles in USA.
- Jazz – One cool sports car is enough, and it has to be Jazz. It sounds like he’ll be a dependable, fast and strong and thoroughly likeable member of the team.
- Ratchet – I picture Ratchet as a kind of Dr. McCoy type character – cantankerous but reliable.
- Ironhide – The team definitely needs someone else with experience and wisdom to back up Prime. What’s the betting he dies in the film though?
So I think we’ve got a good mix. If one thinks of the other characters we could have had, there are good reasons not to choose them. Prowl is just dull, earth+human loving Hound is like an older, stronger Bumblebee in this context. Gears and Huffer are grumpy old men. Mirage, Sunstreaker, Tracks? There’s no room for vain sports cars in an eons long war. Wheeljack is more of a petrol head than a mechanic. Hopefully though, any sequel offers the chance for Grimlock and co, as both a counter to the bestial Decepticons like Scorponok, and to offer a harder line alternative to Prime, much as he did in the War Within stories.
- Megatron – We’ve heard the rumours that he’ll be a cybertronian jet. Perhaps some kind of stealth flying fortress, escorted by Starscream, makes some sense then? He better have a big gun though.
- Starscream – The Starscream – Megatron dynamic is essential, and intact. Good news.
- Brawl – We don’t know much about this character except he’s muscle of some kind.
- Bonecrusher – Same again, although some suggestion of homage to constructicons.
- Barricade – Take the Runamuck/Runabout persona, add in a bit of T-1000, and we have a pretty creepy character to antagonise Spike and Bumblebee in the early scenes of the film.
- Scorponok – interesting choice. I don’t know how much personality this character will have, but I think it’s necessary for at least some of the Decepticons to be obviously ‘alien’, in order to make sure the military realise their facing a serious threat.
- Frenzy – With no mass shifting, and no tapes, it’d be hard to include Soundwave without making some kind of command and control vehicle like a hummer or helicopter. When we first heard of ‘Soundbyte’ as a smaller character designed to infiltrate and destroy, I hoped they’d call him Rumble, but Frenzy will do.
- Blackout – seems to fill the Astrotrain role, serving as transport and yet ready to get stuck in to the fighting. A team player, which is not always a character trait seen by villains. I guess this is the character who plays the big transport helicopter.
So no Soundwave, but with Frenzy here, again it leaves an opportunity to introduce Soundwave in a future movie, I envisage him as being somewhat independent on Megatron, something of an underworld overlord with a network of spies, and empowered by trading in information.
As well as movie sequels, I see a real opportunity to round out the range of characters with extra toys, comics and other tie ins. After all, Beast Wars had plenty of characters not featured in the main story. I’d happily buy in to a whole range of classic and new characters done in the same style as the movies designs, in the same way as I much prefer the anime-inspired Classics designs, and would buy into a toyline based on the Evolutions: Hearts of Steel comicbook too.