Decepticons: Brutal good guys or mustache twisters?

Discussion in 'Transformers General Discussion' started by Rexidus, Jan 22, 2011.

  1. Rexidus

    Rexidus Autobot TFW2005 Supporter

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    So I really like the concept of Transfromers. Their back story, their home world, their high concept.

    But the thing that has always rubbed me the wrong way was the depiction of the Decepticons. In most media they are simply portrayed as EVIL[/b] mustache twisters. Meaning they are evil for the sake of being evil and being there only to fight the good guys.

    To me, the best villains in fiction are those who truly believe they are the good guys. They're trying to do something good. Obviously they have a skewed take on what is good or their belief the ends justifies the means allows them to do some pretty bad things. But if I can empathize with an enemies cause then they become more real to me. And if they are more real then I care for them more. I may want to stop Megatron at all costs but I don't want to kill him.

    A perfect example is Magneto. I LOVE that he and Xavier are still good friends despite being bitter enemies. This concept is also why I quite liked the Exodus novel. It portrayed the Decepticons as freedom fighters.

    So I guess the point of this thread was 1) to let me rant, and 2) to ask the following.

    Which do you prefer? Do you like SUPER EVIL Decepticons or would you prefer them to be portrayed more as misunderstood heroes?
     
  2. vipertaja

    vipertaja Well-Known Member

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    I wouldn't portray decepticons as purely either of those. I think the decepticon cause had some good intentions and just went in the wrong direction. To me the decepticons are the IDW/WFC types, IE the revolting working class caste on cybertron. The "have not"s, the desperate, the abandoned. Since they recruited all comers and the underclass was pretty radicalized at this point we get the psychopaths, convicts and thugs too. Since they were given nothing they made it their cause to take what was "theirs". This came to mean they just basically do what they want now. Extremists, mostly. Of course there are some that try to justify their membership, like Thundercracker, but I think most of the sensible types have left the faction or died during the early days of the war.

    For all the controversy he brings, I think Drift's origins explain many decepticons (though not all).

    I know some settings have them as more purely "evil", but I think this is the more interesting way to portray them, because it means that everything wasn't just perfect before they came along.
     
  3. Ash from Carolina

    Ash from Carolina Junior Smeghead

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    It's always been a bit weird that in the margins people have tried to make the Decepticons the most evil and cruel things in the universe yet their actions seem closer to Snidely Whiplash than brutal dictators.

    Although I agree that the bad guy who comes across as the good guy is far more interesting than the bad guy who does something just to say I've done something bad today. Lex Luthor is far more interesting when he thinks he's saving the world from Superman than when he's just out robbing banks because bad guys rob banks. Cobra Commander is more interesting when his troops are motivated by this idea of saving a lifestyle rather than just I'm here because I lost my job as a thug for a super villain.

    It seems that Transformers likes to play on the margins of fallen heroes but just can't seem to execute it very well. It might be cool to actually see some of the Decepticons save Cybertron in the past only to go down a darker path for the "greater good". Or to see some as good guys until a tragic event filled them with a need for revenge like Doc Ock in Spiderman 2.
     
  4. Kaymac

    Kaymac I'M REALLY FEELIN' IT!

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    I see the Decepticons as being a collection of lost, downtrodden warriors who are trying to reclaim their former glory. They became extremists to show that they can't be opressed any longer. The Autobots emerged as resistance force against this, to keep the Decepticons from acting out their vengeance on the neutrals who remained, and harming innocent people. There were probably those in the Decepticon faction who were sane, but left when they found out exactly what they were doing. The Decepticons have probably just taken their cause WAY too far, and left behind the social issues they were trying to conquer in favour of just striking fear into any who oppose them.
     
  5. Wingwolf77

    Wingwolf77 Decepticon Dark lord

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    In the Dream Wave comics it seemed like Megatron had a vision of what cybertron should be and what they were built for. In that and one of the other books at the time. He felt the Autobot government at the time lied to the people and deceptive. So he started the Decepticons as a way to fight Autobot deception. As the war grew on to him it just became about beating Prime. He had lost focus of the reasons he started the war in the 1st place. When DW ended he was just getting re focused.
     
  6. Karhukjnsi

    Karhukjnsi Universal Wrestler

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    The Decepticons are rarely, if ever, portrayed "right", because then the writer has to sympathize with them as well. That is a difficult task, for if you were to sympathize with the downtrodden lower classes who rose bringing their brutality and death, then you'd also pretty much have to sympathize with the Third Reich and other similar empires.
     
  7. Foster

    Foster Super Mod

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    Depends on the Decepticons in question. Fangry doesn't consider himself a misunderstood hero.
     
  8. Ash from Carolina

    Ash from Carolina Junior Smeghead

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    I think it's possible to sympathize with what someone was attempting to do right while at the same time scorning them for the bad things they did. It's kind of rare for a bad guy sell themselves as nothing but bad things 24/7 because people are more likely to follow if you offer them something that will make their lives better.

    So you could admire ancient Rome for all the great things they built while at the same going damn they were kind of bad guys for beating up other cultures and taking their stuff. You could say wow ancient Rome was great because look at all that art and science while at the same going they were really blood thirsty gits to watch death as entertainment.

    It's just more interesting to be able to ponder if a bad guy is someone you might have followed instead of just being able to say I'd never have followed them because they are jerks. Sort of like if you were a mutant then Magneto might be tempting to follow even if his path did not seem totally pure. Given the chaos, death, and destruction of the Clone Wars a strong leader who could enforce peace and prosperity might be tempting even if it did come at a cost.
     
  9. Pravus Prime

    Pravus Prime Sorcerer

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    That's part of the reason why I love the Animated Universe. In the Allspark Almanac II, we get a timeline for what happened.

    Of the various classes and social strata, only the soldier class didn't have any basic civil rights. Though they petitioned for them on several occasions, they were instead rewarded with being forced to register themselves as "Decepticons". Megatron writes a manifesto, drawing others to their cause and eventually things escalate to war. Eventually things change, Megatron starts demanding the Allspark, Autobots create the spacebridges, planets fall several times, and eventually weapons of mass destruction are created by the Autobots. In the end, the Decepticons agree to the Tyrest Accords and move into exile.

    Then millenia later, we get Sentinel Prime who institutes an outright McCarthy-esque Cybertron. The Autobots are clearly not the good and noble guys and the Decepticons aren't the protoform eating abominations the Autobots would have you believe.

    I also like WFCs portrayal as well, moreso the DS and Exodus versions, which aren't much different.

    When the Decepticons are evil because otherwise who would the Autobots fight, then the story tends to become way too flat. The Decepticons from Armada are a good example, as are the Predacons who are only Preds because of the birthright they inheirated.
     
  10. Wingwolf77

    Wingwolf77 Decepticon Dark lord

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    But that's the point. Hitler is one of. If not the most evil human ever. Did he wake up in the morning and say what evil can I do today? Did the German army feel they were doing evil?

    I don't think they did. I think the Nazi's were doing what they thought was right for Germany. And clearly craved power.

    Most of the Germans in the military were fighting for their country. Not Nazi ideals.

    So apply this to Megatron. He want's power and thinks his vision of Cybertron is the right one. He will attempt to do take power and control cybertron at all cost. Those close to him (Star Scream, Soundwave, Shockwave ect would be in the know. They would share his ideals) Most Decepticons would just have been feed the propaganda that the Autobots are a threat to them. Decepticons are strong and therefore should rule cybertron. And so they fight for Megatron and his cause.
    They could be ex military that served with the Decepticon leaders and generals, The poor and desperate looking to belong. and the people of Megatron's homeland where of course he would 1st come to power.
     
  11. Karhukjnsi

    Karhukjnsi Universal Wrestler

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    That's exactly what I'm talking about, not too many are entirely willing to allow themselves to do that quite yet. The writer needs to consider mirroring the Third Reich in certain aspects if he's to "get it right" which I hope someone really does well someday, but that's a challenge/taboo some are still not willing to touch.
     
  12. Wingwolf77

    Wingwolf77 Decepticon Dark lord

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    I don't think they need to mirror any third reich evils though. I use it just because it's the most familiar example of a real life evil. I think the writer doesn't need to agree with them. They just need to understand that evil people have a different point of view. They don't think they are evil. Yet they commit acts that clearly are. The writer would only need to understand the motivation of why the evil person is doing it.

    Transformers history is of course a toy line for kids. Evil for evil works for that. But if one is to write for the older Transformers market or adults in general. That simple of a view of good vs evil is not realistic. Real evil does not plot the evil deed and have and evil laugh and enjoy how evil they are.
     
  13. Autovolt 127

    Autovolt 127 Get In The Titan, Prime!

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    ^This.

    I believe the Decepitcons should have a mix of freedom fighters and a group of thug, corrupted warmongers. I love the idea that not all autobots (ahem Sentinel Prime) aren't heroic at all. Hell i love the idea General Magnus here cane up with that Megatron is a idealist and Optimus (an idealist as well) is fighting on the wrong side without knowing it.
     
  14. Honorbound

    Honorbound The Reclusive Semi-Lurker

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    I prefer Decepticons to be truly malevolent creatures on par with the worst monsters of human history. I find that the sympathetic villains are only good as secondary villains or villains manipulated by the truly evil ones. They are good villains, but not as the main villain, the animal that started the whole mess. That role needs to be played by a Complete Monster, in my opinion. They are the most satisfying type to defeat at the end.

    Some folks complain about how such a monster is unrealistic, but there have been some brutal bastards throughout history, including Saddam Hussein, Amon Goeth, Ashurnasirpal (ancient Assyrian king who utterly butchered those he conquered), down to average serial killers like Ted Bundy and John Allen Muhammed (the DC Beltway sniper).

    A lot of people are just sadistic - they don't have reasonable motives, they just want to kill because they enjoy it. An example of these are thrill killers, like John Allen Muhammed and his protege, Lee Boyd Malvo. Others just don't recognize or care about the emotions and rights of other humans; they're sociopaths. Then we've got your garden variety murderer or rapist. The reason that a lot of these folks don't consider themselves evil is that they either don't acknowledge the concept of good and evil or they don't care.

    I'm not trying to harangue anyone here, and if I am, I'm sorry. I understand full well why someone doesn't want to believe that this kind of evil can exist without warped-yet-good intentions - the existence of monsters like these is quite honestly frightening. You and your whole families could die at the whim of some malcontent who either is angry at the world or just wants to hurt someone.

    I think that sort of evil should be shown, because there's no point hiding from it. In addition, it gives the hero something truly disgusting to fight against, and when the hero does emerge triumphant (with or without losses), the audience gets a sense of catharsis, knowing that that evil, fictional though it may be, was stopped in its tracks. Heroism and the triumph over evil is one of the most inspiring things in existence. You can't have true heroism without true evil.

    As a side note, I agree that the Snidely Whiplash version of true evil isn't the way to go. Snidely's got the malicious intent down pat, but he's utterly incompetent. Without that competence, evil starts looking like an annoying chihuahua yapping at your heel rather than a terrifying wolfpack coming to eat your insides.

    Two great examples of evil intentions, evil actions, and high competence are The Dark Knight's Joker and Last Stand of the Wreckers' Overlord. Those were highly effective, brutal, terrifying villains who have been very well received by the public (or by the TF community in Overlord's case).
     
  15. Wingwolf77

    Wingwolf77 Decepticon Dark lord

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    The crazy serial killer monster type I agree is a form of true evil with out motivation. " the want to watch the world burn" like what was said in the Dark knight.
    But to have all of the Decepticons be like that does not seem realistic to me. Nor that even if Megatron was that he wouldn't be able convince a large part of the population to take up arms with them.
    Galvatron was closer to that actually. And look how that worked out lol
     
  16. CVprowl

    CVprowl FREEDOM FIGHTER

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    interesting stuff guys!
     
  17. GENOZAUR

    GENOZAUR Banned

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    when it comes to the decepticons being the original cybertronian militia, in thier way i believe that one could see the decepticons at their best before the fall to corruption as being in their way the true spartans among their fellow cybertronians as a warrior race while at the same time being the romans to the autobots greeks so to speak

    in a way perhaps one could also look at the autobots as bieng in thier way the cybertronian equivelant to the sacred band of thebes

    by the way for those who are curiouse on the matter heres what tvtroeps has to say on the matter

    For an interesting historical subversion you can't go past the Sacred Band of Thebes. A company of elites composed entirely of paired same sex lovers, one older and one younger, who being thus bonded would theoretically have a lot more invested in keeping the soldier standing next to them alive and thus fight harder in their defense (and be more prone to berserking at the enemy's expense if their lover fell). And it worked. Not only were they one of the most feared companies in ancient Greece, but Thebes triumphed in the Battle of Leuctra over a larger force (5-7,000 vs 10-11,000) by use of a hitherto-unforeseen battle tactic, in which the Sacred Band were instrumental. The enemy crushed and humiliated by the Sacred Band in this battle? The Spartans. Yes. They defeated The Spartan Way with The Power Of Love.
     
  18. shroobmaster

    shroobmaster Well-Known Member

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    I like to think that the Decepticons as a group accept any random fart as long as they're willing to fight, so I'd guess that they range from alot of different kinds of people. From mustache twisters to ultimate psychos to freedom fighters that sadly lost their way etc. etc., they have everything.
     
  19. Honorbound

    Honorbound The Reclusive Semi-Lurker

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    Wingwolf77: You're right; not all of the 'Cons would be like that, but I would imagine that a large part of them would be, including Megatron's inner circle. They could recruit more followers if the "watch the world burn" motive was just part of the whole package, just as it was with Joker. A big part of Joker's deal was that modern morality was a charade dropped at the first sign of trouble, and that people would eat each other, metaphorically and literally.

    Megatron could use this message to appeal to the psychos and murderers amongst the populace. He could preach a message: If you liberated yourself from the shackles of morality and society and realize the truth -that deep down, everyone is a monster, you could do what you want, kill who you want, and the only thing stopping you would be someone stronger than you. He would plunge Cybertron into a dark age where the strong do as they would and the weak cower as they must.

    You mentioned that he wouldn't be able to recruit that many followers if he was that twisted. If you're talking about a standing army, you'd have a point - he would definitely face a challenge. However, if he set up the Decepticons as a terrorist network, he could work around that manpower shortage via asymmetrical warfare's evil twin, terror tactics. I think that the Decepticons would work much better that way - the very name alludes to deception and scheming. If they needed manpower, they could rely on drones such as the Vehicons or Eradicons, or they could use some form of shell program or cerebro shell to force people to work for them, even if only as suicide bombers.

    P.S. Part of Galvatron's problem was that he was an idiot. This is the 'bot that literally said, "Strategy is for cowards!" Add to that the fact that he was as much a danger to his own troops as to the enemy, and even Wheelie could predict that the 'Cons would go to Hell in a handcart.

    Edit: You raise a good point, shroobmaster.
     
  20. Rexidus

    Rexidus Autobot TFW2005 Supporter

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    You are completely entitled to your opinion and I can respect it but I disagree with it.

    Yes a evil for evil sakes villain can work if done well. But as the main antagonist it just gets old fast. For a movie or other very short lived piece of fiction those types of villains can only work for a short time. They are simple shallow antagonists. They rarely increase immersion for the viewer/reader because they just think to themselves, "Okay that guy is just evil. The good guy is sure to win because good always wins."

    Also take a look at your list. Nearly all of them are not great leaders of men. That kind of evil rarely attracts a large following and in Transformers it is often portrayed that the Decepticons are the larger force.

    And one on your list who is a leader is from a time when regicide was practically unheard of. Not impossible but still extremely uncommon no matter how inept the leader.

    For Hitler, ho boy was he evil. But he didn't rise to power on that ticket. He rose to power because after WW1 German was bent of the table and... lets just say Europe was unkind to her. The German people felt like they had been walked on. They wanted someone to lift them up and fill them with pride. Publicly Hitler did that. He turned Germany into a HUGE threat and nearly conquered Europe. He prayed on a scapegoat and made the people proud to be German. But his most evil stuff was virtually unknown about to almost everyone. Yes they knew the Jews were in camps but almost none knew they were death camps. The Allies didn't even believe it when they first encountered them.

    Kind of got off track there...

    The point is super evil villains just don't work on any deep level for long. As a piece of entertainment you hope to draw the viewer into the story with good characters and compelling scenes. An entire two dimensional force of bad guys is jarring long term.

    I do think Unicron can work as the psychotic archetype, thought I prefer him to be more of an alien non-understandable evil rather than a mustache twister but either would work well enough for him.
     

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