Cayle Newton

Faculty Advisor

Kristin Bovaird-Abbo

Document Type


Publication Date



While many people are familiar with Michael Bay’s live-action Transformers films, few people are aware of an animated film released in 1986 that has become iconic in its own way. Transformers is about the Autobots led by the noble Optimus Prime waging their battle to stop the evil forces of the Decepticons, led by the merciless Megatron, from draining our world dry or resources to restore their home world Cybertron. Following the heroic Autobots’ battle with the evil planet-eating Unicron and his enforcer Galvatron (an upgraded Megatron), this film saw the death of several fan favorite characters, including Optimus Prime, in the first act. Given the Transformers franchise’s roots in cultural trends during the 1980s, the 1986 film reflects these trends from its music to the fact it rips off Star Wars. Interestingly, Transformers: The Movie sets trends for not only animated films of its time, but it also leaves an interesting legacy on the Transformers franchise regarding to its story beats. For my project I will investigate what makes this cult classic movie stand out as a part of the Transformers franchise. As a long-time Transformers fan, I am well-versed in the impact of the animated movie and believe this film is unique in how it is influenced by its context. It has a blend of the 1980s context while also doing its own thing such as introducing new characters who are intended to carry the franchise forward such as the planet-eating Unicron or the brash young Hot Rod. I intend to review how the animated film capitalizes on the success of the toy line and how that success influenced certain decisions. For instance, how was the story crafted around the idea of introducing new characters while simultaneously intending to remove older ones?