A lot of people, because I’m just that kind of Transformers fan, like to ask me which of the Michael Bay Transformers films I liked or disliked or how I felt about the racism. I normally avoid talking about it because no human being on this earth has the time to hear (in one sitting at least) everything I have to say about that little trilogy.
So, instead today I’m going to tell you how the entire Transformers film trilogy could have been awesome, just awesome! You see I’ve given it a lot of thought and I think I found a way to take those films and make them better without changing much.
It’s a simple, easy fix we can make to the plot and I promise you, not only would you have liked it Michael Bay would have loved to film it.
Make Josh Duhamel, remember him? The white marine guy? No no, don’t try to remember his name, nobody does.
Make him Sam Witwicky.
Actually, let’s call him Spike Witwicky since we’re speculating.
Now I want you to imagine Transformers if you cut out the plotlines centered around Sam during his different phases of life. Doth not the movie suddenly become awesome?
Keep the major points about him though, Spike has a grandfather that was an explorer, found Megatron, all that jazz! Heck, Duhamel is older so it’s even easier to imagine his grandfather was an explorer!
Now we keep the character in the military and give him a wife and child like his original character had in the film. In addition put his Dad in the military, let’s name him General Desmond “Spark Plug” Witwicky. Nice nod to the fans and all of that. Screw it, let’s call the baby (you know the one that we see in the first film for five whole seconds and never again the entire trilogy?) Daniel. Let’s whole nine yards this shit!
Now then, we’re keeping all of the points from the beginning, he’s married, has a kid, Decepticons attack, all of that. That whole tangent gets resolved in the first ten-twenty minutes since we don’t have to break to Sam. Instead this time Spike the soldier has a reference, his grandfather ranted about these things during his madness. We have Spike back in the states trying to convince his father that this is tied to Archibald. His father denies it and Spike manages to dig up the glasses at his home. This can highlight a crucial difference between Spike and his father, Spike being a bit of a dreamer like his grandfather, Spark Plug isn’t and it’s a source of tension between the two of them.
Now at this point the pentagon will have debriefed Spike about the attacks and Spike will probably contact them with the glasses attesting there might be a connection. The Pentagon code experts (now not goddamn college students) scan the glasses and the Decepticons catch wind of it. However the Autobots are also on earth. In fact, since we’ve cut all that time from Sam we can show each side in vehicle mode trying to track down some reference to the Allspark. Both would have some kind of ears in the Pentagon network, the Autobots would just be more subtle since their builders and technicians before warriors.
And look I just had a reason for WheelJack to be in the film.
And with WheelJack and Ratchet on earth I now have an excuse for the Dinobots!
See how awesome this gets?
So Decepticons stake out the house, let’s say it’s Barracade, no reason to change that. Barracade attacks and at that moment Bumblebee appears since he’s followed Spike from the Pentagon (a logical place for an Autobot scout to recon) and Bumblebee saves Spike’s family. Now here where Sam had to justify going with Bumblebee after the big yellow guy saved him (twice technically) Spike has immediate reason to trust the Autobot. His newborn child was just saved!
Heck you can even keep the crap about Bumblebee not talking in if you want. However, to be a bit more original and flexible let’s say we don’t. Bumblebee starts introductions and asks that Spike meet his commander.
Spike: Who’s your commander?
Bumblebee: His name is Optimus Prime. *tell me you wouldn’t get chills*
Spike insists his wife be kept safe; Bumblebee consents and drives them to a military instillation where his buddy (still played by Tyrese Gibson) agrees to protect them no questions asked while insisting nothing be noted down in a computer log. Of course Tyrese’s character agrees to this. Why? Cause their good friends. We see that established easily in the opening scene.
And just for fun, throw this conversation in:
Spike: Trust me! I need you to do this man.
Tyrese: You know I do. You have to explain this one later though!
Spike: Remember those toys you played with as a kid?
Tyrese: You mean the go-bots?
Just because we can do that sort of tongue and cheek thing.
Now we have Optimus meeting Spike. This changes the original scene to a meeting between soldiers, each fighting to protect something. For Optimus it’s the last of his kind, Spike, his family. Spike convinces Optimus to meet the officials at the Pentagon (As that’s where the glasses are).
Once there we can have a great first contact scene between the military heads and the Autobots. Have Tyrese bring the wife and kid too. However, Sector Seven comes in and claims control of the situation (keep the scenes in with Jon Voight where they debriefed him early on). Optimus consents though he comments on the situation.
Now here we can have a bit of play where the Autobots all arrive at Sector seven and Megatron and the Allspark are found and the Decepticons attack. Conversely; the Decepticons can attack early on.
Either way the battle between Optimus and Megatron is held in an area (hoover dam) a bit easier to cover up. Everything else happens the same way, relatively, with Spike in the place of Sam. Also, in the dam it’s more of an arena so you have significantly easier shots to make of robots battling. End it the same way too with Spike putting the Allspark into Megatron, now though you have a soldier who can actually physically move well in those situations and the physical tension is raised as he’s just as likely to succeed as fail. Wrap it up; Spike and his wife are sitting inside Bumblebee holding their little one as Optimus makes the speech about the promise of a new future highlighted with a small pan to the family.
And that’s just the first film! Tell me Bay wouldn’t kill to make that?
Imagine Revenge of the Fallen, only now it’s Spike and his crew on the Matrix Quest to revive the fallen comrade-in-arms, Optimus? You can now incorporate military stealth elements in the story.
Imagine that long-ass sky fall sequence in Dark of the Moon only it’s now with a crucial central character whose life, family, and everything we’ve come to cherish over two films prior! We can get some character development in there too! Have Spike and Optimus have a discussion about the fallouts between sons and fathers! Highlight it with the death of Spark Plug in the early part of the third or second film where you have Spike talk about how he always felt a distance between himself and his father he never resolved though he thought he would.
This thing writes itself! You simply have to know what story elements need to be retained and what parts to dispose of. Granted, Transformers Prime used teenage humans as the partners of the Autobots, but that show did it to create a great coming of age story with the character of Jack Darby.
Writing Transformers isn’t about matching the fine details; it’s about matching the themes. One of the most prevailing of these themes has always been about meeting a different culture and forming a lasting bond with them. Even in Beast Wars it occurred!
The strength of the work lies not in the lines of the structure but the foundations upon which it is built.
And so too does this work exist.