Ancient Warrior Culture in Transformers

Discussion in 'Transformers General Discussion' started by Leadfoot, Jul 30, 2010.

  1. Leadfoot

    Leadfoot The Strongest.

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    In the grand scale of human history, it wasn't all that long ago that warriors bolstered their own courage by declaring their name. It used to be the ultimate warcry to let all who opposed them know that they were about to gamble with their lives. For an ancient fictional example, look at the Bible in various instances. A warrior's name was the most whispered and known name in the lands, next to whatever ruling despot governed. Also check the Epic of Gilgamesh, Beowulf, and various Greek classics. The simple, stark pronouncement of a legendary warrior's name, usually yelled at the top of one's lungs either by themselves or their rivals, was enough to stir within the souls of their troops all the courage and inspiration needed in battle.

    I love that in Transformers we get harkenings to that. In the Transformers mythos I think we have such a backlog of epic fights, if you combine all the continuities and think of how long the core characters have lasted. The fact that Optimus is who he is and Megatron is who he is gives us as strong a catalyst for epic battle as we could ever need, but the two are modeled after archetypal historical characters. Megatron wears a nazi helmet. Optimus talks like a John Wayne character. On top of that, we get the requisite "I... Am... Megatron!" or "I am Optimus Prime." declarations to mimic the ancient classics.

    I thought of this connection when I saw the amazing TFP clip of Welker and Cullen behind the scenes. Jesus on a cracker, that gave me the biggest geekgasm of my life. "UGHAAAAAAAAAAH, OPTIMUS PRIIIIIIME!" I could have passed out, and almost did. Here's to the hope that TFP will give us the powerful storytelling that we have thusfar only seen flashes of, and richly deserve as fans of a brand which has never quite lived up to its immense potential.

    Yes, I said immense potential. I do not care about those who would repeat (again) that it's about robots, and I completely dismiss such flippant and shallow assessments. It is a powerful allegorical tale with roots in ancient tales of warriors who formed the very basis of every culture on this planet, which happens to have a lot of appeal for kids; it deserves a story that earns it maximum respect.

    Thoughts?

    Oh, edit: I... AM... LEADFOOT!!!
     
  2. Rodimus Maximus

    Rodimus Maximus Liege Ultimo

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    I too have a love of military history and this makes perfect sense to me. The Samurai certainly had that ethos of declaring themselves and their accolades in order to meet a worthy opponent.
    As for Tfs, I agree it only makes sense that their would be a warrior ethos among them. On the flip side, I think it would also make sense that as machines there would also be a predisposition towards no ethos whatsoever, just computations for how to destroy as many opponents as possible with the minimal expendature of resources.
    I can see a situation where Cybertronians before the war did indeed have a long and richly cultured warrior ethos, only to have it become obsolete in the face of an enemy who wouldn't share it at all. The Mongols would be a testament to this, because many of the cultures they fought, right up until the battle of Ain Jalut, had some form of a posturing ethos, for which the Mongols answered with a hail of arrows. The Samurai ran into this too against Kublai Khan's armada, before they adapted to it.
    Any how, not sure if this was the answer you were looking for, but cool topic!
     
  3. Rodimus Maximus

    Rodimus Maximus Liege Ultimo

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    Got some more thoughts on this...
    I remember well the first time I'd read issue #1 of Marvel's TF comic, specifically the beginning. It was noted that the Autobots were destroyed in the millions upon the first waves of Decepticon attacks, before they were able to successfully fight back. As a kid, I'd therefore imagined and thought that the Decepticons originally were the warrior elite of Cybertron, the soliders, or basically the military caste, whereas the peaceful Autobots were builders and/or preservers etc. The Decepticons, being built to fight and boasting a warrior ethic would have indeed been a terrible force to a group that had none, nor any tradition of fighting. I guess I was still really influenced by the Starriors in those days (big props to anyone who remembers them, lol!)

    All the recent continuity has pretty much debunked this, I know, but another possibility is that a warrior culture may have existed before the war, and the Decepticons, originating from the lower castes of society wouldn't have been influenced by it all, thus adding an advantage to their tactics as aggressors. However, millions of years of fighting has likely caused both sides to develop a newer ethos between them, the shouting challenge as you say etc. Perhaps even a point of never attacking a foe in mid transformation is also a battle ethic of sorts. I'd definitely be into seeing this explored in some form.
     
  4. Leadfoot

    Leadfoot The Strongest.

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    I always sort of felt the same way, and that was before the "new" continuities. I certainly think the subconscious framework was there - the cons were military and gear, the Autobots were domestically oriented. That was an early Hasbro decision. I think later, when someone sits down to write a story about a war between alien races, the influences of ancient war stories comes through, where you have writers who have dedicated their lives to storytelling, often they know the classics.

    Since you mention Samurai, Michael Bay mentions in the movie commentary that he sees Optimus as having a lot of Samurai influence to his personality. It can certainly be surmised that the story of The Seven Samurai (or Magnificent Seven for a western culture reference point) played some influence on the Autobots.
     
  5. Ash from Carolina

    Ash from Carolina Junior Smeghead

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    I feel that it would be a good thing to bring a bit more diversity to the Transformers warrior cultures. There are just so many examples from human history to mine ideas from. Samurai, Spartans, Vikings, Apache, Spetsnaz, Navy SEALs, Maori warriors, human history is just filled from the ancient to the modern with very different warrior elites.

    I think we saw a bit of that in Animated where Prowl and Jazz were cyber-ninjas but it would be cool to see Autobots and Decepticons from different warrior cultures on the same team.
     
  6. Leadfoot

    Leadfoot The Strongest.

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    You know, that's a damn good point. What Transformers needs is someone with that very idea to contribute to the fiction in some form or another. While we did see Japanese warrior culture in Animated, it would make a hell of a lot of sense to broaden that concept to include some of the things you mentioned.

    Autobots and Decepticons who are from different parts of Cybertron, or perhaps longtime refugees on unknown planets, who have strange but earth-inspired warrior cultures less cliche than the basic ninja/cowboy thing we get a bit too much of. They could have strong traditions that make for interesting interactions between them and the more traditional characters. This would add a great layer of richness to the ongoing story and let's face it, it's an idea that would sell to adult and kid fans alike.
     
  7. knyghtmare2021

    knyghtmare2021 The Goddamn Knyghtmare

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    One sentence: DINOBOTS! WHAT YOUR PROFESSION?

    WhooAH!

    Ok, that was 2 sentences, but you get my point lol
     
  8. Rodimus Maximus

    Rodimus Maximus Liege Ultimo

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    I totally agree! This sort of thing I feel is very important for young people too, because the warrior ethos of the 'good guys' teaches a sense of morality when one is in conflict, along with it being cool. I really like the idea of different warrior traditions from Cybertron, and agree it would add great depth to the characters, especially on part of the Decepticons. All too often they're just shown as violent and/or dumb and scheming brutes.
    I like that point that Ash made too about blurring allegiances. That's one of the main reasons I loved Dinobot from Beast Wars so much: his warrior-ethic transcended his allegiance to either side, and that just makes for great story-telling. It would certainly add depth to the conflict overall to have competing groups who's respective agendas, as dictated by their traditions, blurred the lines of the conflict and perhaps even added to it.
    The whole Cyber-Ninja thing in Animated was amusing in it's way, but in my opinion, not especially creative. Cliche, I agree, and also...why call them Ninjas? Just simply coming up with a unique name yet keeping the recognizable traits would have been far more interesting. All too often I think writers make the mistake of underestimating the ability of kid's to adhere to and be inspired by more complex ideas.

    Actually, I think it would have been more interesting if Optimus was also originally a Gladiator too. If so, his conflict with Megatron wouldn't just be about their competing ideologies; it would also be about that deep and personal thing that can exist between two rival fighters from the same tradition (especially when for Megs and Op it comes down to whipping out the Mace and Axe, respectively).
     
  9. Ikkstakk

    Ikkstakk Well-Known Member

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    I always liked this concept, and I'm afraid Hasbro is losing it. Exodus, which they've said is their new "official" continuity, just presents a rigid caste system which I personally don't find as interesting. Decepticons as blue-collar workers and Autobots as white-collar workers just doesn't equal Decepticons as warriors and Autobots as scientists and technicians.

    I like to view Cybertron as a living organism with the Autobots serving as red blood cells, working to keep the body functioning properly, and the Decepticons as white blood cells, working to defend against invasion. Both factions were essential to the "health" of Cybertron, but the Decepticons eventually came to see the Autobots as an unhealthy infestation and resolved to "cure" Cybertron of their "infection."
     
  10. Ash from Carolina

    Ash from Carolina Junior Smeghead

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    Even on the same team having different warrior cultures makes for some good material for both the stories and the characters.

    Just look at the Lord of the Rings movies. Legolas comes from the Elf warrior culture while Gimli comes from the Dwarf warrior culture. Each of them starts out thinking their warrior culture is superior to the other warrior culture but as they fight together they learn respect for each other.

    Might be interesting to have some Autobot culture clash instead of it being the Autobots just get along no matter what part of Cybertron they come from.
     

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