There’s something scarier about a villain who’s utterly logical about everything he does; whose decisions aren’t tempered by any of the self-defeating mood swings of your typical narcissistic megalomaniac. Scorpius from FARSCAPE is one of my favorite villains of science-fiction (I even put him on my Top Five Evil Aliens list on Screened) for precisely those inhuman qualities. I thought it was so innovative how that show envisioned him as an “evil Mr. Spock” but, after doing some research for this guide, I learned that the creators of TRANSFORMERS beat FARSCAPE to the punch by about 15 years.
Shockwave did indeed come from the conceptual starting point of what the world’s favorite Vulcan would be like if his unwavering rationality was directed toward malevolent ends instead of benevolent ones. And just as Spock, for all his wondrous intellect, still played second fiddle to Captain Kirk, so too did Shockwave obediently do the bidding of Megatron. In some iterations anyway. If you thought that keeping up with the respective continuities of Marvel and DC was a tall order, you’ll likely be overwhelmed by all the pieces of the fractal mosaic that is as the TRANSFORMERS franchise. Characters’ alliances, relationships and very natures change more drastically over all the iterations than any of the robot-to-vehicle transformations.== TEASER ==
In most versions, Shockwave's the commander of the Decepticons’ military forces, yet still somehow subservient to Megatron. His appreciation of that subservience differs from version to version, though. In some, his cold logic concludes that Megatron’s the most suitable leader, and he is thus content in his position. In others, that logic deems Megatron unfit and, because of that, he's always scheming to usurp him with a tenacity much like Starscream’s. Considering how he’s identified as the main antagonist of DARK OF THE MOON, my guess is that his characterization will lean more to the latter in the movie. One facet of Shockwave that remains constant, however, is that he’ll transform into an alien vehicle instead of something that blends into Earthly scenery. Originally, he turned into a giant Cybertronian cannon but, in this movie, he’ll be turning into a Cybertronian tank. Added mobility makes for a step up, perhaps?
Not everybody realizes that “Prime” is actually a title Optimus holds as leader of the Autobots. It’s sort-of like calling him Captain Optimus or Lord Optimus. At least, it is in most iterations of TRANSFORMERS. The last movie, REVENGE OF THE FALLEN, reconceived “Prime” as something of a clan name, with Optimus being the last of the Primes (at least that’s how I interpreted that whole “robot heaven” scene.) We’ll see how that’ll be reconciled with the appearance of Optimus’ direct predecessor, Sentinel Prime, in DARK OF THE MOON.
This particular bit of lore was first explored in the ’86 animated TRANSFORMERS movie when it was revealed that Optimus’ right of command was given to him by a Matrix of Leadership he carried around inside his chest. It was fitting that this venerable object was held right where the robot’s heart would be, as it basically served as deus ex machina that would “light the Autobot’s darkest hour” and remedy whatever overwhelming problem was present when opened by their leader at the proper time.
After getting killed by Megatron (at the time, anyway) Optimus bequeathed the Matrix to his second-in-command, Ultra Magnus, who ultimately couldn’t use it because, even with his courage and nobility, he wasn’t worthy of leadership. The real chosen one was the young punk Hot Rod, who grew into the larger and more powerful Rodimus Prime when he wielded the Matrix at the precisely right moment. Later storylines revealed that Optimus had been known as Orion Pax prior to undergoing a similar trial, and that he had inherited the Matrix from Sentinel Prime (who was once known as Sentinel Minor.)
As I mentioned, the live-action TRANSFORMERS have changed this particular part of the mythos significantly. Therefore, I wouldn’t expect the lineage of Primes to spin out as I’ve just described. Sentinel Prime will be revealed to have crashed the Autobot’s Ark on the Moon in the 60s and to have perhaps been hibernating amidst all the highly-valuable wreckage there over all the decades. For all we know, he could very likely be Optimus’ father or grandfather or uncle or what have you, as the Autobot Matrix has already been show and it has little to do with succession of leadership.
Here's a tidbit: things come full circle a bit with Leonard Nimoy’s involvement. He was actually the voice of Galvatron in ’86 animated TRANSFORMERS movie, replacing the earlier model of Megatron who was voiced Frank Welker. And guess who Welker’s playing in DARK OF THE MOON? Yep, Shockwave. One shall stand and one shall fall, right?