Franchise Stand-Off: Transformers vs. Marvel’s The Avengers
The Transformers franchise has become one of the most popular blockbuster hit series at the global box office. Who are the audiences for the Transformers cinematic franchise? You. There may be some out there more cynical about the Transformers theatrical instalments than others, but this is the lame minority, as the Transformers franchise is still one of the most success theatrical ticket sellers out of the fantasy movie franchises still active on the box office board today.
The Transformers franchise is directed by Michael Bay, and he is a genius in the movie business for attracting the wider audiences to his movie projects. Transformers is where Michael Bay has made his print on the Hollywood silver screen, and each Transformers instalment has fought relentlessly to improve upon its predecessor. “Transformers” was a cinematic CGI spectacle, and all of the other action CGI movies at the time shadowed behind its mass ticket sales, released in 2007, the movie grossed more than $700 million worldwide ($150 million budget).
What appealed to audiences most of all about the “Transformers” movie was its unbelievable CGI and special effects, as they were all the rave back in the early-late 2000s, and Michael Bay wanted to be one of the first to take the plunge into the new dimension of Hollywood blockbuster (CGI) action movies. The “Transformers” movie starred Shia LaBeouf (the witty, charismatic, smart teenager) who played Sam Witwicky, the boy whose first used car bought by his parents (the funniest on-screen parents in movie history) turned out to be an Autobot transformer robot (fighting to save humanity from the altercating evil force from their alien planet, the Decepticons). Now, this was no accident, as the car/alien/autobot-transformer named Bumblebee, was targeting Witwicky because of a pair of glasses that his great great grandfather owned (that just so happened to have the co-ordinates imprinted on the spectacles for the location of the lead Decepticon’s whereabouts, Megatron).
Further elaboration on the “Transformers” movie’s story: Megatron, the lead Decepticon, is being held captive in a top secret military underground base, and he is being kept frozen in captivity till the end of time. The Autobots (good transformers) have landed on earth to prevent the Decepticon’s plans to save Megatron and destroy earth in the aftermath, and this is all taking place whilst Witwicky is under the protection of Bumblebee, the used car - that is actually an alien soldier transformer from the distant planet Cybertron. When the Autobot transformers land on earth they all scan a motor vehicle to transform into to remain incognito whilst they go on their search for the ebay seller (of the important glasses with alien co-ordinates) Sam Witwicky who is put under the protection of Bumblebee.
Meanwhile, the enemy (bad transformers) Decepticons are working on stealing military secrets to track down their leader, Megatron, and the movie literally starts with a Decepticon transformer disguised as a US military helicopter, and after it lands on a US military air field it heads straight over to the US super-computer to steal all of the US’s top secret information. The enemy Decepticon then goes on to destroy the entire military base, and kills everyone. This whips the US military into immediate action, and their is some satirical themes occurring after the US government pulls together the most world-renowned data analysts, and one of their teams figures out that it is alien life-form, and not a foreign power creating these alien transformer robots. So much more happens, but it really isn’t vital at this point as it only spoils the movies conclusion, and it was amazingly executed by Michael Bay, the producers, and the CGI creators responsible for the works on the Transformers aliens.
The Transformers franchise continues, and the second instalment was good, but there was an air of confusion for many fans of the series because of it not having the gripping story progression that they were hoping for. But, when it comes to Michael Bay’s Transformers cinematic series, it is less about complex storytelling and more-so about the tense action between the good and bad transformers, and these CGI battles are epic. There is always going to be a cynical in audiences for big-budget silver screen projects, but this is the king franchise for plain and simple dumb-fun entertainment.
CGI entertainment was clearly one of the better functions of the DreamWorks studio, and the action foretold within the second and third instalment for the Michael Bay Transformers series was an astonishing foot forward for the CGI fantasy movie scene. DreamWorks very rarely get credit given for their works outside of animated feature films, but the Transformers trilogy clearly proved than DreamWorks were a spectacular movie studio at grappling the art of CGI movie storytelling.
Transformers Fall From Grace
The Transformers franchise has been blowing the socks of audiences around the world for a whole trilogy set of instalments, and they were only improving upon there appeal to the wider audiences. The final of the thee instalments to star the lead actor, Shia LaBeouf, titled Transformers: Dark of the Moon was released in 2011, and grossed more than $1.1 billion worldwide.
And, as it turned out Michael Bay and the producers for the fourth Transformers instalment decided that it might be time to move away from the focus on the Sam Witwicky character, and so Shia LaBeouf stepped aside to allow a new story to be told through the eyes of the new lead character Cade Yeager, played by Mark Wahlberg. This comes at a time when Mark Wahlberg has become one of Hollywoods favourite A-list actors, especially amongst the action/comedy genres, and so it made for a swift transition to the Transformers franchise, as a part of the action/CGI genre.
The Transformers fourth instalment titled Transformers: Age of Extinction had some fun ideas to work with, and the launch trailer prompted potential audiences for the marketing efforts that there would be dinosaur transformers from a time long forgotten. Children would have been the first to draw their attention to this revelation, but the Transformers franchise was still on a box office high after the previous success of the third instalment for the franchise, “Dark of the Moon”. Only, now there is a new CGI storytelling team after DreamWorks step away from the franchise, and this does not seem overly concerning given than audiences would have little-to-no clue about this fact behind the movies making. Although, it was still directed by Michael Bay, and now starred the Hollywood attraction icon, Mark Wahlberg, as the lead in the movie. This sounds like a perfect dumb-fun movie, and it was. The loss of Shia LaBeouf (having played Sam Witwicky for three Transformers instalments) was felt, but the majority of audiences were not overly concerned with the exiting of the actor, mostly due to his media outbursts - including wearing a paper bag over his head at a red carpet event, and also sitting in a room with fans lining up to speak to him whilst he sat there saying nothing (a Hollywood cry for help, maybe?). The movie grossed over $1.1 billion worldwide. Now, that’s the sign of a thriving movie franchise.
The success of the next Transformers trilogy now starring Mark Wahlberg as the lead actor was to be short lived, as the fifth Transformers instalment grossed just over $600 million worldwide. That figure is less than the worldwide gross for the first Transformers instalment, so clearly something went wrong, and this is seriously weighing down the stand-off in the favour for the Transformers franchise, as this is certainly a knock-back. In 2017 (when Transformers: The Last Knight released - the fifth Transformers instalment), have audiences been put-off by the direction of the Transformers second trilogy series? Mark Wahlberg was disappointing, and this may have been down to poor story progression which may have caused the script to fall below the par, as in "The Last Knight” Mark Wahlberg was doing his usual acting performance and something felt off about the whole show. The movie starred Anthony Hopkins, and it felt as though there was little-to-no connection between Wahlberg and Hopkins characters, and this almost feels like a waste of Anthony Hopkins raw acting talent, and may have been better utilised as the bad guy. Some might disagree, but Anthony Hopkins character portrayal was as expected (immaculately done), but the character simply did not fit into the story all that well. This may be exactly what happens when DreamWorks CGI influence is thrown from the scene, and incompetent CGI producers and creators step in to wreck everything that the franchise has achieved over the years. Michael Bay is dreadful when it comes to handling complex storytelling, and when "The Last Knight” finally contains some complexity and conflict between the bad guys leading the enemy action, Bay flops as the director. This movie was awful, not because it didn’t feel like a Transformers movie, but because the story was all over the place and never clarified anything, and just as quickly as Octomus Prime was the bad guy (the only interesting element to the story), he is suddenly thrusted back into being the good guy. This movie was misdirected, showed poor story progression and execution on-screen, and showed a clear sign the studios production team is missing a large element to their original formula success, and that is the DreamWorks studios team.
For Marvel’s' The Avengers
Marvel’s The Avengers is the peaking stage for the Marvel Studios productions over at Walt Disney Studios, and they clearly aimed at bringing everything together from what they have achieved over the years to bring it all together for one grand movie trilogy.
The Avengers (the first instalment released in 2012 - with this very title) aimed to bring together the ultimate fighting force for earths protection (in the Walt Disney Marvel Universe); and this team would include Iron Man/Tony Stark, Captain America, Thor, and The Incredible Hulk. There is some arguments within the movie for as to who the leader of the team is, the one that funds the teams tech and weaponry expenses, Tony Stark/and uses his super suit to assist as Iron Man, or the one that is the closest superhero to man, Captain America, as he is merely a superhuman (but not un-killable - it just appears that way). This offers some smart humour throughout the movies bloated action CGI motion picturing storytelling. Then, there is the most powerful team members, Thor and the incredible Hulk, and as the green Hulk (Bruce Banner is no longer in complete control of his thinking, but can now control the green monster), he and Thor are always having a complicated relationship. Hulk thinks Thor’s not as godlike as himself, but Thor is the one to step-up when Bruce Banner is struggling to control the green monster, as Thor is the only one powerful enough to put Bruce Banners thinking back into place for the green monster, Hulk. This offers more satirical humour between the action CGI scenery, as it is almost expected that they utilise as much funny-bone material as humanly possible for a movie-maker.
This brings us to The Avengers sequel “Avengers: Age of Ultron”, the one that promised the badass super-villain - named Ultron. Now Ultron is the robot of death, and has powers that can be transferred between various bodies, and he is seeking to start a new dawn under the robot race. Tony Stark’s creations have finally reached a dark turning point, and it is up to Iron Man/Tony Stark, and the rest of the Avengers gang of superheroes to save humanity from the earthly-destruction ambitions of Ultron. There are new superheroes who emerge in this instalment for The Avengers, and there will be the ultimate opposition and the ultimate test for the brave few that have the power to take head-on the evil that is Ultron - a super-intelligent robot.
So, in “The Avengers” we saw the Avengers group of Disney Marvel superheroes take on Thor’s worst nightmare, Loki, and then moving onto the sequel we saw the Avengers group take on Tony Stark’s evil robotic inventions, mastered by its leader - Ultron. The best is yet to be challenged, as the third instalment for The Avengers series, titled Avengers: Infinity War, promises to deliver the action spectacular of a god-like alien that has the strength that can match the incredible power of Hulk. Things will likely not be getting bloody in the third Avengers instalment, but there is the promise for the ever-improving evil forces that threatens earth that must be overcome by the Avengers superheroes. The Avengers still has more to come, and what is coming promises to be the best yet.
I know what you’re thinking: The Avengers is not the franchise, but Disney-Marvel overall
Hmmm, now that is some fresh thinking. Yeah, the Disney Marvel movies have spread across the board of Marvel comics movie adaptations; covering Spider-Man, The Incredible Hulk, Thor, Iron Man, Captain America, and the list is only growing. These Marvel comics superheroes have all seen their fair share of spin-off series adaptations, and there have been such popularity across the board that the thoughts of these unstoppable good guys coming together was simply overjoying. That is when we got "The Avengers”, released in 2012, and this movie was pleasing in a way that can only be achieved through CGI action and cross-over action in the real-world action movie-making.
Still, The Avengers series may merely be a part of the bigger Marvel Studios (owned by Walt Disney) franchise, but it was The Avengers that truly brought the fans from across the board of spin-off Marvel movies together for the one-truly-amazing-Marvel-superheroes-movie for the first time.
Who’s Better: Transformers or The Avengers
In truth, this is a little unfair of a comparison since Walt Disney have acquired the long stretch of lead actors over a fairly lengthy set of budgeted contracts for their own affairs for The Avengers series of movies. There is Robert Downey Jr. playing Tony Stark/Iron Man, Chris Hemsworth playing Thor, Mark Ruffalo playing Bruce Banner/The Hulk, and Chris Evans playing Captain America. Now, that is a lot of premium actors in single cast for a superhero movie that promises so much for the lengthy fanbase of Marvel Studios works.
On the other hand, the Transformers franchise has taken audiences by surprise, and they had to earn the audiences affection. Octomus Prime is now an icon for many young children, Bumblebee is the best friend for other young children, and Megatron is the ultimate bad guy for children to feel the power of good overcoming a strong sentiment for evil representation. Human history is learned through the balance of good overcoming evil, and the Transformers series (directed by Michael Bay) has struck audiences at the heart of the true believers in good overcoming the devastating powers of evil dictators (and these are the younger audiences).
Transformers is the winner, as there is a much stronger connection between the characters, and Shia LaBeouf proved that acting alongside green-wall-screens can be done effortlessly. There is so much people want to hate about Transformers, but these are cynical thinkers, as the Transformers franchise have achieved something that so many other action franchises have not, and that is there attention to finely designed chemistry-buildings between each and every one of their characters.
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