Monday, June 27, 2016

Villain Retrospect - Megatron

There are a lot of different versions of Megatron out there now.  After the original, you have the Beast Wars versions, a Robots in Disguise 6-changer version, the Unicron Trilogy versions, Animated, the movie versions and most recently, the Aligned versions, including Prime and the War for/Fall of Cybertron games.  That's a ton of different Megatrons and it still doesn't include all of them.  And I'm not even counting the continuities that have him become Galvatron.  There are too many to count!  But, as Old School Evil is focusing on the 80s cartoons, we're only looking at the original fusion cannon-wearing, Walther P-38-transforming, black hole-connecting madman.

Who came first?  And who are two the extra guys?
Created by the Constructicons (who he later created in a huge continuity error, which most series of the time were rife with), Megatron lead the Decepticons in taking over Cybertron.  In various episodes and the movies, the Decepticons had control of the Transformers' home planet, running patrols, locking up Autobot labs, and even leaving behind one of their most-trusted lieutenants to watch over it.  When the Autobots left the planet looking for more energon, Megatron and his lackeys followed, attacking their ship and causing them to crash land on Earth, where they were stuck in stasis for 4 million years.

Megatron had high ambitions.  As I said last week, he wanted more than world domination.  He wanted galactic domination, at the cost of blowing up the Earth.  Megatron's best plans included taking over the human race with controlling microchips, pulling Cybertron into Earth orbit to syphon the energy out of the ensuing natural disasters (both from The Ultimate Doom), dressing up as the Autobots to trick the humans into forcing them off the planet, and then sabotaging their rocket to fly into the sun (Megatron's Master Plan), and creating a clone of Optimus Prime to lead the Autobots into a chasm of explosive crystals (A Prime Problem).

Someone flushed a Kre-on down the toilet.
As the series went on, Megatron started slipping.  His genius plans went from world-shattering to just plain incompetent.  Dance halls with hypnotic music, a remote controlled fleet of taxis, the afore-mentioned giant purple griffin.  What happened, Megatron?  His lowest point had to come in City of Steel where he captured and dismantled Optimus, rebuilt his body into an alligator and let it loose in the sewers, and used his photon rifle (held by Prime's arm mounted on a tower!) as his base's defense.  Of course, Optimus still had control over every piece of him and was able to not only defeat Megatron, but Devastator as well.  Though this was probably his most embarrassing defeat, he was no stranger to humiliation.  After seeing him fly away after screaming "Retreat!" for the hundredth time, I started to feel bad for him.

For two seasons, Megatron lead the Decepticons in a fruitless war, with only a few instances of revolt.  Almost half the episodes had his second-in-command, Starscream openly plotting his hostile takeover of the Decepticons, something Megatron foolishly allowed to continue with no more repercussions than knocking Starscream on his ass.  Starscream and the triple changers, Blitzwing and Astrotrain, on separate occasions were able to wrest control of their faction away from Megatron, though their reigns were extremely short lived. 
As Megatron is my favorite villain, I admit it's difficult to rate Megatron fairly against the bad guys from other shows, but I'll do my best.  I'm scoring all villains based on effectiveness (how many episodes he bested the good guys or how close he got to it) and coolness (overall look, abilities, voice, and behavior), each on a scale of 1-10 with ten as the best.  For Megatron, it breaks down like this:
Effectiveness - 6.  I'm giving Megatron a high score as his earlier schemes came pretty close to fruition.  Yeah in the second season, they faltered, but originally, his plans were world-threatening.  In the end, though, a lot of his plans were miserable failures and he ran away at the first sign of defeat.
Coolness - 9.  From Frank Welker's incredible voice work and the gunmetal gray color scheme to the giant cannon strapped to his arm, Megatron bled coolness.   He looked and sounded awesome and the placement and prominence of his weapon has become a hallmark for the character for almost every iteration of the character.

The source of many boyhood tears.
Unlike most of the villains that will appear here and are limited by what can and cannot happen on television, Megatron's ruthlessness blew up (get it?) due to his appearance in Transformers: The MovieOver the course of the film, Megatron personally ended a score of Autobots, including almost the entire 1st and 2nd season cast.  On screen, we saw Megatron execute Ironhide, an act that forced 9-year-old me to pound my fist into a dresser asking "Why?!"  Megatron far surpassed his Saturday morning peers.  Of course, he also pretty much died in the movie too, being upgraded into Galvatron and turning into a complete nutcase, so that evens out the ruthlessness a bit.

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