Put together by Yoko Higuchi. I never hated Christian Bale’s Batman voice, but hearing it all at once, I couldn’t help but laugh. Personally, my favorite delivery is in The Dark Knight Begins, when he whispers, “Here.” How creepy would it have been if he never raised his growl above a whisper?
Ben Affleck will be doing a similar “growly and decisive and sexy” Batman voice, according to Jennifer Garner.
In Frank Miller’s All Star Batman & Robin, the Boy Wonder, Dick Grayson, describes Batman’s voice like this: “It’s like he’s doing some lameass Clint Eastwood impersonation… He sucks air and for a second it looks like he’s got a razor blade stuck between his teeth… and it sounds like every single word is a jagged chunk of glass that scrapes his throat on its way out… Just listening to him is like being punched in the chest.” But then the boy gets a reaction out of him. “He loses the the Eastwood imitation. His voice goes kind of soft. Which is really strange.”
Here, the voice isn’t just kept turned up to 11. This Batman has as much control of it, as he does himself as he abducts a minor who just witnessed his parents’ murder and drafts him into his private obsession and deviant lifestyle. Don’t worry, Batman realizes the consequences of what he’s doing when his new ward nearly kills someone and decides to amend his ways.
The thing I’ve always admired about Frank Miller’s Batman, is that he is crazy. Darwyn Cooke plays with this idea in his story, Ego, but Miller put it simply. When Batman looks at Harvey Dent/Two-Face in The Dark Knight Returns, he sees a reflection.
The toys that resonated with me most as a kid were The Transformers. My brother and I would arrange battle scenes across our bedroom floor, and once all our figures were in place, the action would begin. (For coverage, our G.I.Joe toys were usually thrown into the fray.) When I first got one of these toys for Christmas, or my birthday, I remember hiding away with my gift to figure out the transformation on my own. I felt most successful when I could do it without looking at the directions.
Around 2005, I started collecting updated versions of these childhood toys. Some are officially made by Hasbro and Hasbro and Takara/Takara Tomy. But there are also a number of 3d party companies that appear to be making unlicensed versions of characters from the Transformers franchise. There may be more to it, but it seems like all they have to do is change the name of a character in order to copyright and sell their product. Across the board, these toys/collectibles are larger, more detailed, more complex to transform, and more articulated than their original versions. Sometimes their appearances are kept as close to the original on-screen characters as possible, sometimes not.
On of these 3rd Party vendors is Keith’s Fantasy Club, a Chinese toy company founded in 2012. They produced this stop-motion animation to promote their toy products. Listen in, and you’ll hear a liberal use of music and sound effects from The Transformers: The Movie.
Hi. I’m Ultron.
Drone. Drone. Drone…
Ultron with friends.
Pinocchio! No, wait. Ultron.
Here is the Teaser Trailer. Complete with ballerinas! It looks awesome. We’re given glimpses of many different pieces of the puzzle. Can’t wait to see how they all fit together.
1984. The Transformers cartoon was made for the sole purpose of advertising the newest products in the Takara-Tomy/Hasbro Transformers toy line. These two-in-one toys were great. I loved trying to figure out how to transform them without looking at the directions. Sure they were fragile, and barely articulated, but with the cartoon’s help, they captured my imagination.
I remember being seven and never wanting to get out of bed in the morning. Except on Saturdays. While everyone else in the house was asleep, I would be up in front of the television at 7:30 AM to watch The Transformers cartoon. No alarm clock necessary.
On the show, these metal titans were invulnerable. The Autobots were a band of brothers. There leader was the paternal Optimus Prime. The cartoon basically repeated narrative elements from its first story arch, based on the original Marvel Comics mini-series, but as a kid, there was something reassuring about characters on display. Even the bad guys, the Decepticons, presented an interesting study of group dynamics. And each team’s roster was big and diverse enough that you’d never know who you’d see more of any given week. Peter Cullen gave voice to Optimus Prime (and Ironhide) and Frank Welker to Megatron, his nemesis and leader of the Decepticons (as well as Soundwave, Rumble, Wheelie and many others).
In the forward to the book Transformers Vault: The Complete Transformers Universe Showcasing Rare Collectibles and Memorabilia, Cullen recalled that he heeded his brother Larry’s advice: “Peter, don’t be a Hollywood hero, be a real hero. Real heroes don’t yell and act tough; they are tough enough to be gentle, so control yourself.” And it worked. As a fan, I will say there is no Transformers without Optimus Prime. And there is no Optimus Prime without Peter Cullen.
1986. In between the second and third seasons of the television show, The Transformers: The Movie was released. The animated film was directed by Nelson Shin. The original script was by Ron Friedman, the final script was by Flint Dille.
At the time, animated content was essentially broken down into two categories: soft and cuddly for girls and hard and violent for boys and the only other animated movie out was Care Bears Movie 2: A New Generation. To attract a broader, older audience, The Transformers: The Movie had swear words to earn a PG rating. It also started the trend of celebrity voice-casting, with the likes of Eric Idle, Judd Nelson, Leonard Nimoy, Robert Stack and Orson Welles, in addition to Peter Cullen, Frank Welker and other Transformers regulars like Casey Kasem and Scatman Crothers.
The film’s driving soundtrack included synth and rock music by Stan Bush, Vince DiCola, Spectre General and “Weird Al” Yankovic. Not only was the tone darker than the television series, but the cell animation was much more detailed, rendered in Toei Animation’s typical anime film styling. Floro Dery was the lead designer for the film, which was animated in 4:3 full screen format, the top and bottom were then cropped to widescreen dimensions for theaters.
In the first act of The Transformers: The Movie, laser and cannon blasts tore through the characters I woke up to see every weekend. Smoke billowed from their mouths. Their bright colors faded to gray as many of the original characters were killed off. This was not a morning cartoon. This was a movie. The stakes were obviously higher, the tone darker, but I wasn’t prepared for the unthinkable: the death of Optimus Prime.
The goal was to kill off the original cast of the cartoon show so that a new cast populated by newly released toys could be introduced. Neither the toy manufacturers or the filmmakers considered the effect this would have on their primary market and audience. In setting out to make a 30-minute commercial for a toy line, the producers of the television show got something more, something that resonated. Kids weren’t going to chuck their old toy for the new one. They weren’t just toys. They were characters that they had an emotional investment in. And this was the first time many of these kids were being confronted with Death.
Death wasn’t yet popularly known to be a temporary state for main characters in an ongoing series. When Optimus Prime died on screen, it was clear there was to be no coming back. (Although you could argue the needlessness of his death when Ultra Magnus was later revived after being blown to pieces…) Later in the movie, Optimus’ role as a Prime finds its way to Hot Rod, who becomes Rodimus Prime via the Matrix of Leadership.
I really took to the Hot Rod character in the movie, but he was more like a big brother, not the father figure I wanted to lead the Autobots. And for whatever reason, I lost interest in the cartoon during its third season.
For me, this movie stood the test of time. Optimus Prime and Megatron’s final battle was wonderfully choreographed and perfectly distilled their characters and conflict for a new audience. The anime action and camera movement, the driving soundtrack, the diverse characterization and the creative design of the film well represent the sensibilities of the genre in the 1980s.
Floro Dery is a Filipino illustrator that worked on the 1980s The Transformers TV series and The Transformers: The Movie, designing all the characters introduced in the movie: Galvatron, Cyclonus, Scourge, Unicron, Ultra Magnus, Hot Rod/Rodimus Prime, Junkions, Quintessons, Springer, Blurr, Wheelie, Kup, and Arcee.