With Transformers: The Last Knight less than a year away, Michael Bay continues to tease fans with character reveals. The latest is Hot Rod, described as “brash, slightly arrogant, protector” and “Bumblebee’s Brother-in-Arms.” Like many Bayverse-inspired redesigns, Hot Rod does not pull a lot of visual cues from his Generation 1 counterpart apart from a smattering of red across his body. No prominent flame highlight across the chest (apparently Optimus Prime has a monopoly on the use of flame decals), no exhaust arm cannons, and no flashy yellow spoiler cresting magnificently behind his head.
Hot Rod’s role in the film is unrevealed of course, but does his inclusion signal a change of course for the Transformers films?
Transformers fans know one thing – when Hot Rod first showed up in The Transformers: The Movie in 1986, Optimus Prime died (traumatizing a generation of children who didn’t realize how much they loved a big red truck). Not only did Prime die, Hot Rod was the direct cause of it! And how is he rewarded? By being transformed by the Matrix of Leadership into his successor, Rodimus Prime who then defeated the planet-sized Transformer known as
Unicorn Unicron. All set to a rocking soundtrack that included Stan Bush and “Weird Al” Yankovic.
Rodimus led the Autobots through the rest of the cartoon series until Optimus was brought back, probably because he had a new toy out on the shelves. With Hot Rod debuting in Transformers: The Last Knight, will history repeat itself and signal the true death of Optimus Prime (because his half-hour death in Revenge of the Fallen doesn’t count) in the film series to allow for a newer, younger, hipper cast? Transformers 90210 anyone?
More Than Meets The Eye
Over on the Transformers comic front, IDW’s More Than Meets The Eye has been a critical and commercial success, regularly breaking into the UK Comixology Top Ten charts and earning the title the “Continued Excellence in Serial Comics” award from Comics Alliance (and the writer, James Roberts, picked up the “Outstanding Writer” award as well). In the series, Hot Rod (renamed Rodimus to reflect his maturity) leads a ragtag crew of Autobots on a quest to find the fabled Knights of Cybertron.
More Than Meets The Eye follows the adventures of the crew of the Lost Light as they lurch from one adventure to another. Along the way, they encounter plagues, battle some of the most ruthless Decepticons to ever wear the badge, watch movies, visit a holographic Earth, and save half of the Cybertronian race from extinction. And they do it with humor and style. It’s that kind of comic. Could Transformers: The Last Knight be partially adapting the series, cashing in on the popularity of the comic? I hope so, but the tone of the film series is vastly different to that of More Than Meets The Eye.
Hasbro’s Cinematic Universe
News and rumors of Hasbro’s Cinematic Universe are few and far between, but Transformers: The Last Knight may very well become the first film in the intended series of interconnected movies. Hot Rod’s presence in the film might be a springboard for a popular character to get his own spin-off film (a Bumblebee film is reportedly in the works), or to further expand on the Transformers brand with films that are not set on Earth and deal more with the history and mythologies of the Transformers themselves, rather than their dealings with Humans.
Final thought: Michael Bay had better be a) begging Judd Nelson to voice Hot Rod and b) deciding that what Hot Rod needs is a crotchety, grumpy old Autobot called Kup to work with. If so, I am available for voice work.