Monday, June 20, 2016

My Favorite Megatron

It should be no surprise from my Megatrons Anonymous comic that the Decepticon leader in Transformers is my favorite villain from Saturday mornings.  A giant evil robot that carries a massive cannon on his arm and turns into a tiny pistol.  What's not to love about that goofy bastard?  Besides his imposing appearance, Megatron set himself apart from his fellow bad guys by using schemes that are much more devastating.  Instead of taking over some tiny castle like Skeletor or the world like Cobra Commander, Megatron wanted nothing more than to destroy the Earth and steal all the energy released by its destruction.  Megatron wasn't playing.

In truth, Megatron didn't stand apart from his contemporaries. Until Transformers: The Movie, his plans were larger ridiculous affairs, the generic "trick everyone into thinking the good guys are the bad guys" (Megatron's Master Plan), the "turn the good guys into bad guys" (Attack of the Autobots) and every so often creating lame super-weapons, including most famously, a giant purple griffin robot from Aerial Assault. Who else besides a cartoon villain would think that was a good idea. 

There's a reason, however, that Megatron has stuck with me this whole time and it's not because of the helmeted guy up there.  In 1996, after the Transformers had been off the air for a while, a new series came to kids programming: Beast Wars!  Though this series set itself apart from Generation One, the leader of the bad guys also went by Megatron.  Taking the form of a Tyrannosaurus Rex (later a dragon), this Megatron proved to be a much better strategist than his namesake.  Over the course of two seasons, the Predacon leader managed to kill both his nemesis Optimus Primal, and almost took out the comatose Optimus Prime, who he originally went back in time to exterminate.  Not only did this series take a more complex route to telling its story, Megatron's plans became much more sadistic.  The Megatron, not the original, cemented himself in my mind as the pinnacle of cartoon villainy.  Though attempts to reboot other series had led to more scheming, complex villains, Megatron is still the best among them. 

If Beast Wars hadn't come along at the end of the original Transformers cartoon, I don't think Megatron would have the place in my heart he does now.  Other villains in the 80s had more entertaining traits or more interesting looks.  He schemed the same as the rest of them did, he argued and threatened with his troops the same way.  He may have been more intimidating because of his size or raw power, but that didn't mean much when the good guys he fought were the same size.  Without Beast Wars Megatron to reinvent Transformers and its main villain, Megatron might have been forgotten in the 90's and beyond, like so many others. 

Over the next eight Mondays, I'll be discussing the various leaders that commanded the bad guys in their attempts to take over whatever.  I'll rank them on effectiveness, coolness, and overall ridiculousness, the three traits shared by all the villains.  First up will be the big bad 'Con himself, Megatron.

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