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Rules Optimus Prime Has To Follow In Every Transformers Movie

The 1980s were a historic decade for television shows based on children's toys reaching the mainstream. For instance, "Masters of the Universe" and "G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero" became small-screen favorites practically overnight, working in tandem with merchandise lines that took over toy aisles across the world. Of course, any discussion of toy-TV synchronization would be incomplete without mentioning the Transformers — a race of sentient robots capable of transforming into familiar vehicles that starred in their own cartoon from 1984 to 1987.

Much like countless other '80s properties, the Transformers have received the comic book, TV show, and movie treatment on many occasions over the years. As a result, several names have been granted the opportunity to keep up appearances and are now regarded as must-haves for any "Transformers" production. Notable examples come from both sides of the moral coin, such as the villainous Decepticons Megatron and Starscream, as well as the heroic Autobots Bumblebee and Wheeljack.

Be that as it may, none can hold a candle to the legacy of Optimus Prime. From the moment he was introduced to audiences, it became crystallized that he was the poster boy of the "Transformers" IP with no true equal. To this day, he remains one of the most popular fictional characters in history with a massive fanbase — one that knows what it wants out of its favorite Autobot. Here are the essential rules Optimus Prime needs to follow at the movies should the filmmakers behind him seek to do him justice.

It's all about the paint job

First and foremost, the chief thing to consider when nailing an Optimus Prime adaptation is his appearance. When not in his humanoid form, he typically rolls out with his fellow Autobots as a semi-truck, sometimes with an attached trailer. He should also don a red, blue, and silver color scheme to top off the design, with the red predominantly covering his torso and the blue and silver scattered about his head and limbs. This is the formula just about every movie version of Optimus uses, hence its status as his signature look.

Although, that isn't to say that Optimus hasn't tried out some different styles during his tenure as a cultural icon. One of the most prominent stems from the "Shattered Glass" tale, which put the spotlight on a mirror dimension where all of the Transformers have switched places. This variant of Optimus — as the leader of the evil Autobots — was colored purple and green and sought to conquer the entire universe. Additionally, Optimus Primal is the fur-laden leader of the Maximals from the "Beast Wars" story, though he's not technically the same character as Optimus Prime. Fortunately, the two were differentiated further in 2023's "Transformers: Rise of the Beasts," where Primal is named after Prime but exists outside of his direct lineage.

Perhaps someday we'll get to see these alternate Optimus designs on the big screen, but none should come before the classic red and blue. 

There has to be time for a speech

When it comes to fictional leaders, Optimus Prime's faith in his allies and his unending desire to see them at their best is second to very few. However, it's not uncommon for the robots in disguise to end up on the receiving end of a loss with their faith visibly shaken. Thankfully, Optimus always has the perfect remedy in the form of a rousing speech to lift their spirits once again. For a "Transformers" movie to not have one at some point in the runtime would be a major disservice.

Optimus Prime's exceptional monologues have become a key component of this character thanks to Michael Bay's live-action "Transformers" franchise. Each film — "Transformers," "Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen," "Transformers: Dark of the Moon," "Transformers: Age of Extinction," and "Transformers: The Last Knight" — features a moment of reflection by the famed robotic being, hinting at where the story may go next. His silver screen appearance in 2018's "Bumblebee" broke this trend, but it made sense since he wasn't as integral to the plot this time around.

"Transformers: Rise of the Beasts" gave Optimus Prime plenty of chances to show off his oration skills as he leads his team against the Terrorcons.

A strong voice for a strong leader

Optimus Prime sharing his words of wisdom is a welcomed part of any "Transformers" movie, but what is it about these speeches that make them impossible to ignore? Arguably the most vital element to this concoction is finding the proper voice actor to read off the lines. For a massive, hulking, mechanical being who's both imposing and wise, finding the right person for the job can't be easy. Nevertheless, it's crucial to do so, and it's definitely not impossible given how many actors have stepped up to the plate and hit home runs.

To many, voice acting legend Peter Cullen is the one and only Optimus Prime — landing the role in the mid-1980s and sticking with it into the present day through various media projects. His low, rumbling vocals brought the character to life like no other, but that doesn't mean others haven't put their own spin on Optimus now and again. The likes of Jake Tillman Foushee, Garry Chalk, and David Kaye have all left their own unique mark on his legacy through TV series, movies, and video games, brilliantly redefining the beloved Autobot for new audiences.

Moral of the story: Optimus Prime needs to have a strong voice actor behind him. Without one, filmmakers run the risk of his overall presentation falling flat.

Actions speak louder than words

There's no denying that Optimus Prime is a gifted speaker and can rally the Autobots with a mere few sentences. At the same time, despite his talents for profound monologues, he should always be characterized as action-oriented no matter the continuity or storytelling medium. More often than not, Optimus has been depicted as a natural leader, but not one that leaves his allies to do the heavy lifting. He's consistently present on the front lines, building hope within his contemporaries via his bravery and never-say-die attitude in battle.

In being the most selfless and motivated Transformer around, Optimus Prime hasn't shied away from paying the ultimate price in pursuit of peace. From 1986's "The Transformers: The Movie" to 2009's "Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen," he has sacrificed himself on numerous occasions for a couple of reasons. Not only does this give his friends something else to fight for, but it sets him up for an inevitable revival that usually sees him become even stronger than before. Naturally, this can't happen in every film since the impact of the moment would diminish, but it's practically a hallmark of his character at this point.

Simply put, he should be an inspiration in both life and death. So long as that detail, and the aforementioned others, are accounted for, your quintessential cinematic Optimus Prime is good to go.