Hello, everyone. I've been a huge Optimus fan since the Robots in Disguise anime in 2001 and I've done my best to follow any Transformers material that features Optimus in a starring role. The movies might not be the best version of the Transformers mythos, but I think they've done a good job at revitalizing Optimus and updating him for a modern audience. At the risk of angering some people here in Reddit, I think Optimus is the most relatable, the most interesting and perhaps even the most human character in the movie series.
Peter Cullen is an amazing actor and his performances in the Transformers movies are always best, but then again, that's not much of an accomplishment considering the... questionable talent he is forced to work with. Even so, his character, at least in my opinion, manages to be sympathetic and relatable because he has true blunders to overcome and a goal he wants to achieve. Optimus fights for a world where Cybertronians can live in peace together. He dreams of a world where Cybertronians can be free to choose their own destiny and humans no longer have to fear what lies beyond the stars. He fights for a world where Autobots like him are no longer needed.
One of Optimus' best moments in the saga is his private scene with Cade Yeager in Age of Extinction, when they use a stolen ship to fly to China and reawaken the Dinobots. The Autobots have been hunted down to near-extinction by the humans they swore to protect. How did Hasbro and Paramount thought this would be a good idea for a story, I'm still not getting, since it just undoes the point of the first trilogy. Cade is saddened that Optimus just wants to leave Earth, not caring that humans will suffer at the hands of Galvatron if Optimus doesn't do something about it and Optimus replies "How many more of my kind must be sacrificed to atone for your mistakes?". Cade has to convince Optimus to stay by reminding him of humanity's virtues. Granted, the humans in the Transformers saga aren't exactly the most sympathetic, but this is still a good moment because it gives Optimus so much pathos. You care about him and you feel for him and the situation he is in. His struggles damn him and what other people think of him damn him.
What's really ironic from all of this is that the movies attempt to get us to sympathize with the humans and portray them as innocent victims caught in a struggle between two alien armies, but Optimus is the only character with an honest-to-Primus character arc. He is the only character in the saga with something to prove and something to work for. Despite the heavy human presence in this movies, it's the alien robot who is the most interesting. The humans in the movies are so unlikeable and untrustworthy that they betrayed the heroes that risked their sparks and servos to protect them. This is something that wouldn't look out of place in a Spider-Man comic or an X-Men comic. No matter what Optimus and his friends do, the people they have protected for so long ended up hating them and fearing them.
The best thing from all of this is that instead of giving into despair and becoming a villain, Optimus took that despair and turned it into hope. Instead of becoming a monster, he became a hero. No matter how much the humans insult and disrespect him and his species, Optimus still finds it in him to come back and save them from disasters they bring upon themselves. The humans cannot believe what they are seeing. They've tried to spin the truth and turn reality into something other than it is and now they have to deal with the consequences. They told Optimus he was evil, they treated him like he was evil, they treated him like he did what Megatron did and they did it so well he actually believed them. You didn't see that coming?
Optimus is actually a good person. You didn't think that if you convinced a good person that he is actually bad that he'd actually believe you and actively try and avoid doing bad things? What did you think he would do? This is the perfect backfire to all the hatred and fear the humans throw at Optimus and damn if I don't love a good backfire. It's a miracle that Optimus has actually taken it this far. It's a miracle that Optimus still holds onto his principles and tries to have faith in his fellow man. How sad it is that the humans, the supposed innocent victims in this intergalactic conflict, convinced this poor guy that he is this supreme asshole? No, the humans are the assholes. That might not have been Hasbro and Paramount's intention with these movies, but that's the way it came across to me.
It's so weird that no matter how hard the movies try to get us to sympathize with the humans, it's the robot protagonist who has the real problems. The human characters are just coasting along, pretending they know suffering. Optimus thinks he is the only one who should sacrifice himself for the greater good and constantly risks his life chasing the approval of a species that cursed his name; but go on and tell me how hard it is being the awkward teenager with the raging hormones, or the bland soldier with the wooden personality, or the down-on-his-luck inventor with a bad attitude or the angry teenager with family problems or whatever the hell Bumblebee is supposed to be. Optimus has the fate of two species resting on his shoulders, one species is dying and the other hates him. He might complain, he might get angry, he might even get depressed but he always picks himself up and soldiers on. Optimus deserves respect.
Well, that's all I have for you this time, now it's your turn to tell me what do you think about Optimus in the movie saga. This meant to be friendly discussion, so please be polite and argue your points in a civilized manner. We are all Transformers fans, we just see things differently. Posting comments on this website doesn't make my opinions greater and more valid than yours and I'm just glad I have the privilege and the opportunity to share my opinions with you. I'm always open to the opinions of others, but I admit I did hijack this particular topic. So, leave a comment below and thanks for your time.