Giving transformers more character!!

Discussion in 'Transformers General Discussion' started by JR3X, Feb 20, 2012.

  1. JR3X

    JR3X Well-Known Member

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    G1 had how many characters in the 1st season and i loved how they were individualized. Each character had their own special powers like : Hound did illusion, mirage disappeared, trailbreaker had a force field , skywarp warped..... Today they all have the same guns and what?? Bulkhead is bulky and what? Do you miss this type of characterization in transformers today??
     
  2. Nachtsider

    Nachtsider Banned

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    Special abilities =/= characterization.
     
  3. SMOG

    SMOG Vocab-champion ArgueTitan

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    No, not entirely... but why close the door on 75 years of comic-book superheroes? Special abilities DO add to the individualization of the various characters, and helps them stand out from each other.

    I do kind of miss those G1 types... but not just for the powers (I miss them too), but for the breadth of personalities. In 25 years of Transformers, we've never quite had such a varied cast of quirky characters, as we did in the first few years of G1.

    zmog
     
  4. Overlord Balder

    Overlord Balder Voices Slugslinger!

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    I'm with Natcht here, specially regarding G1, they were more flat than a desk back then.

    I do like some special abilities, but the thing here is personality and depth, not gimmicks.
     
  5. SMOG

    SMOG Vocab-champion ArgueTitan

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    G1 is not just the cartoon. The danger here is mistaking the time you've spent with certain characters through tv series, for them actually being better or more distinct characters. The truth is that many great G1 characters barely got more than a walk-on, or had their personalities watered down to nothing on the cartoon.

    However, the original bios have more personality and variety in them than any subsequent TF series. Later cartoons reduced their cast in order to spend more time on fewer characters, but I would say that at their foundation, on paper, the G1 panorama of characters is waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay richer than anything we've gotten since.

    Admittedly, this is probably because no other series put much effort into developing their characters prior to throwing them onscreen. The G1 bios are longer and more involved than anything provided for later series (with the possible exception of Alternity, though those more accounts of events than the are profiles of characters). Also, the cast is just much larger, so there's a lot more variety... even if sometimes it seems like G1 did have an overabundance of reckless red sports cars. ;) 

    zmog
     
  6. Overlord Balder

    Overlord Balder Voices Slugslinger!

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    Bad terminology of mine, I usually hand "G1 continuity" as "the cartoon" because there's an absurd gap in quality between the cartoon and the comics, I pretty much don't consider them to be in the same continuity.

    Now with this I firmly disagree, but ultimately, matter of opinion, so it's pointless to argue.
     
  7. Torque

    Torque The WORDSMITH

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    if you miss diverse personalities from G1, pick up the new comics. Swerve is fantastic
     
  8. SMOG

    SMOG Vocab-champion ArgueTitan

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    Well, they pretty much aren't in the same continuity, and each one tended to do some things better than the other. The comics were (mostly) better, but the cartoon had more mass appeal.

    But there's a 3rd, more primal G1 continuity that you're leaving out... and that's the G1 TechSpec bios. It is the "first" canon of Transformers, and in many ways its most significant... it was the source of all things. When one considers that the Transformers were first and foremost toys, the G1 bios were for many the first, and most comprehensive source of canonical backstory that young fans had access to. No character was left out, every TF was given their due. That is the true wealth of G1... later series tended to be too reliant on the cartoons (with their smaller casts) for character content, and in a way that leaves them far more limited.

    You can disagree, but can you give examples? I don't think there's really a lot of room for debate in this instance. G1 categorically beats all comers on the basis of quantity, and in terms of quality, holds its own pretty well. I don't think any other series have characters that are particularly more "deep" than those in G1, and certainly not as many.

    That series does a great job of bringing the fringe personalities to the fore, and I'm really enjoying it (I can see where Roberts was coming from when he compared his approach to Justice League International). I haven't quite figured out Swerve though... apparently his personality so far is just "irritating". :) 

    zmog
     
  9. boonimusprime

    boonimusprime Member

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    Many of the G1 characters have benefited from being around for so long. After over 5 years, legions of writers have added layers of characterization that weren't there before. I don't think Prowl's current ruthless personality really existed until just recently for example (in G1, he was a perfectly nice if bland bot).

    Other characters that benefited over time include Thunderwing (who in his tech spec was only an espionage agent), Bludgeon, and Grimlock (who has become more of a layered, conflicted character over time).

    Talking about powers, though, it is interesting how the first year of Autobots and Decepticons had incredible powers (force fields, invisibility, teleportation, holograms) that didn't exist as frequently in later generations. Part of that could be that the original Ark and Nemesis crews were really the best of the best; they were the mechs with the best toys. Or, maybe these powers were relatively standard issue, and became more rare over time because the war stripped the resources available to make these powers more widespread.
     
  10. Overlord Balder

    Overlord Balder Voices Slugslinger!

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    The first to come to mind is DOTM-Sentinel Prime, probably the most ambiguous Anti-Villain of TF franchise [in fact, the only evil Prime who is morally ambiguous, The Fallen and Nova Prime are just insane] who at the very least matches the depth of any G1 character.

    Armada-Starscream, Armada-Megatron [who is underestimated], Prime-Starscream are worthy candidates as well.

    The matter of opinion part is that I really don't think the G1 character [standing by cartoon only] are not even remotely deep, they were one-note characters.
     
  11. kaijuguy19

    kaijuguy19 Keyblade Wielder

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    I usally think what sets a character apart is from thier personaltys and how deep they are not by some fancy powers. I mean powers are equally as important but shoudln't character come first and foremost?
     
  12. Chopperface

    Chopperface Holtzmanned

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    Nacht hit it on the head.

    Put it this way: pretend that say, The Lion King was your ultimate favorite childhood movie of all time. You love it to death. Now, it gets re-released in 3D. Are you going to go see this movie because it's a 2D movie now "3D"? Or are you going to see the rerelease because you love the The Lion King because it's such a good movie that you've always loved? Sure, you buy the 3D ticket anyway, but do you really care for the 3D? No. You care for the actual movie.

    3D is a gimmick - just like Mirage's dissapearing, Hound's illusions, Skywarp's warps, etc. Really, we're not there for the gimmick. We should be there for the substance. The character. This is why pretty much 90% of Transformers is so much better than G1 in terms of character. They don't rely on gimmicks: they rely on good writing, voice acting, and personality. And unlike movies which can use the 3D gimmick pretty damn well and impressively (Avatar, Dark of the Moon), often gimmick-focused characters don't do well with audience favor.
     
  13. Overlord Balder

    Overlord Balder Voices Slugslinger!

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    In an off-topic comment, Lion King happens to be my favorite movie of all time. :lol 
     
  14. SMOG

    SMOG Vocab-champion ArgueTitan

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    The Fallen and Nova Prime are really nothing to write home about, but you have a point with DOTM Sentinel... the only issue is that his change of heart came with so little exploration or context. It's true however that while G1 has quite a few uncharacteristic Autobots who are psychopathic, disturbed or amoral, there really aren't any straight up turncoats, much less ones who have done so on some kind of ethical grounds.

    I'll call you on Armada Starscream. G1 has a few of those "honourable villain" types too, though more to the point, that archetype is nothing new or original (especially in the context of anime).

    Armada Megatron on the other hand, really IS an interesting character. It's unusual to see such a blend of conventional diabolical villainy and genuine empathy for his troops (and to a lesser extent, even his foes).

    Prime Starscream? Really? But for all intents and purposes Prime Starscream is just G1 Starscream warmed over (much as Animated Starscream was)... a scheming, vain, effete opportunist. He's fun, but there's almost literally nothing new there.

    Limited to such a poor sample, I would agree with you... but for the fact that the cartoon is often the worst measure of a G1 character. If you go back to the source, they're almost always way more interesting than they appear in the cartoon. Back before there was anything else, I was always dismayed at the poor characterizations on the G1 Cartoon, and how they rarely matched the potential of the original bios.

    So to the point, if you're judging G1 by the cartoon, then you're not really judging G1 at all... :) 


    zmog
     
  15. kaijuguy19

    kaijuguy19 Keyblade Wielder

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    This.:thumb 
     
  16. Overlord Balder

    Overlord Balder Voices Slugslinger!

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    To further add, he's clearly shown as a conflicted individual who doesn't like what he's doing [muttering "Forgive me" to Optimus before he opens the Space Bridge is an example, as well as betraying Megatron in the end of the movie, making it clear that while he did the atrocities he did, he won't allow a tyrant to take the helm on Cybertron].

    My point here isn't the originality, but the quality of the execution, techinically, the conflicted Anti-Villain is an old character type [MacBeth for one of the earlier examples I can think of], the point is the execution. And which is best executed [G1-dudes or Armada-SS] is a matter of opinion, as I said earlier.

    He was shown as a shceming, vain opportunist, but he was the only Starscream that started as a backstabber, genuinely considered to be loyal to him, and then decided to go rogue.

    And yes, you have a point on the Comics [I like the comics], I was just mentioning on the G1 cartoon.

    I just think even the comics aren't superior to everything else in the franchise.
     
  17. SMOG

    SMOG Vocab-champion ArgueTitan

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    Yes and no. Let's face it... Transformers is a world painted in broad strokes. So while certainly a good personality or interesting quirk is what can really make a character, it would be silly to pretend that things like visual design, interesting powers, and other distinguishing features weren't a major part of the appeal of a given character.

    So let's not pretend... if you really wanted "deep" characters and nuanced portrayals, you wouldn't be watching TF cartoons. You'd be watching something GOOD instead. ;) 

    A gimmick doesn't have to be the focus... but should be integrated along with the other elements of a character. Let's not pretend that the "gimmicks" are irrelevant.

    Again, some of these points might carry some weight if we were talking about something that were particularly good to begin with. Good writing, good voice acting... these are NOT particular features of the Transformers fiction.

    I won't lie... assuming that we're talking about cartoons only (which I'm not), G1 didn't have great writing... and in fact I don't think any TF series does. The best the franchise has ever hoped for was above average kids cartoon writing. However, we're not talking about the episodic writing... we're talking about the characters themselves, the basic building blocks each story makes use of.

    Voice actors can bring a lot to the table, beyond even the level of the writing. In that sense, G1 is no slouch. G1 Rumble is every bit as vibrant as BW Rattrap, and Chris Latta set the paradigm against which almost every Starscream afterward was conceived. There's a reason why Peter Cullen is the only Optimus in 25 years of Transformers who doesn't bore me to tears... and that's because of his voice work, regardless of how much of a 2-dimensional paragon the character may be.

    And how does one evaluate those characters who never had a voice actor, or more than 3 lines strung together in an episode? Where do the comics and their depictions of the various characters then fit in? Do they not count because there's no voice actor? I just think it's short sighted to pretend these things don't exist.

    Likewise, I think it's far too easy for people to discount the G1 characters, as if they didn't form a foundation that all things Transformers are now built upon. You can't simply discount things like the G1 bios, or the comics... without them a huge, influential chunk of the fandom and the fiction simply wouldn't exist. I know I wouldn't be here. A big reason so much of this has persisted is because it was actually quite good (for what it was). Without those Budiansky G1 bios, we wouldn't have the fiction we have now... we'd be playing with GoBots reissues instead. :) 

    zmog
     
  18. Kakashi

    Kakashi Well-Known Member

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    You know, I can't even watch the movies anymore because during all of Michael Bay's stunning, over-the-top action scenes, I keep thinking "There could be characterization on the screen instead." Same with all the moments of people having awe-struck expressions yelling out "Go Sam! We believe in youuu!" And I still maintain that "2009 Camaro" was Bumblebee's primary personaility trait, followed closely by "Sam's pet Autobot."
     
  19. SMOG

    SMOG Vocab-champion ArgueTitan

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    Not to split hairs, but I don't find the half-hearted attempts at cliched dialog really painted a rich portrait of Sentinel... in all fairness, there is not one ounce of nuance or care in the depiction of robot character relations or motivations in Bay's Transformers... but I see the potential in Sentinel for more (well, if he weren't dead), even if the Movies are just not a good venue for that.

    Execution is sort of a moot point, since execution isn't necessarily the formative stuff of a character. Many an actor or writer has made a boring or stereotypical character interesting. But if you're looking for a rich cast of characters to pluck from, G1 beats the other continuities. Maybe the difference is thinking like a writer rather than a spectator. For a writing mentality, characters represent who they are, and what can be done with them... where they can go. For a spectator, a character is what they see played in front of them, beginning and ending at the limits of their TV screen... which is pragmatic in its way.

    And then, where do more recent portrayals fit in? How do Roberts' Megatron and Roche's Prowl contribute? They are G1 characters, for once being explored beyond the constraints of a Saturday morning toy commercial.

    You're not talking about a character there though... you're talking about events that happened to a character who is already a carbon copy of his G1 namesake. In that sense, while I like what they've done with Prime Starscream, I don't consider him to be a "better" character than his G1 self. He's really just the same guy.


    Also true, and this cuts to the heart of the matter... consistency (or lack thereof) is something that has plagued most TF continuities, but none so much as G1. While it can generally be acknowledged that there is only ONE Animated continuity and ONE Prime continuity (unless you're one of those people that really buy the notion of WFC and Prime characters being the same people), G1 has never been so clear. At least in some sense, the G1 Specs profiles provide the only true anchor for who these characters are supposed to be, since every permutation, every media, and every new writing team tend to remake G1 all over again.

    zmog
     
  20. SMOG

    SMOG Vocab-champion ArgueTitan

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    Very true. With better handling, even a partially mute character like Bumblebee could have taken on some weight as a character (R2D2 and Wall-E managed it better)... but the movies were far spasmodic and superficial to afford things like that much attention. There is SO MUCH utterly disposable comic relief stuff in those films, so many places where dead space could have instead been filled with genuine character development or story content. Sigh... :( 

    zmog
     

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