This news follows on the heels of the earlier announcement that Hong Kong actress Li Bingbing is joining the cast of Transformers 4. Bingbing shot to the publics attention when she played the “white haired witch” in the Jackie Chan, Jet Li epic 2008 film The Forbidden Kingdom.
But human actors aside, it the the makeover of Optimus Prime and the creation of two new Autobots that has everyone excited. On Wednesday Paramount Pictures showed off a C7 Corvette Stingray and a 1,200-horsepower Bugatti Grand Sport Vitesse that are rumored to be Slingshot and Drift, respectively. One is a classic Transformers character from the 1980s mythology and another is from IDW’s 2005 comic-book reboot of the franchise.
But what does their identity and the Optimus Prime upgrade — mean for the future of the Transformers verse?
In the 1986 animated Transformers: The Movie, Optimus Prime died fighting Megatron and left the way open for young, brash Hot Rod to take over as leader of the Autobots. In the new verse of Michael Bay’s Transformers, there is no sign of this happening. But something is going on, Optimus Prime’s transformation into a sleek new cab suggests at the very least that the series is looking at creating new, evolved personalities that they fans will either love or, at the very least, accept as the franchise moves forward.
Slingshot was originally conceived as a plane. But he was absent from the team during their appearance in 2009’s “Revenge of the Fallen.” The character of Slingshot was known for being slightly obnoxious but did evolve redeeming qualities in the original verse. Somewhat similar to the characteristics of the other newcomer Drift.
This move to bring back and introduce other characters in the Transformer verse via a “Pimp My Ride” makeover, could mean a closer look at the Autobots and Decepticons that is more in-depth. Take for instance the characters of Slingshot and Drift. Slingshot had character and he was “deep.”
Slingshots character arc was interesting. He initially idolized Megatron and the Decepticon jets, but because of their callous disregard for life and their ambitions for world and even universal domination he came to despise them. But this disillusionment was virtually absent from the first three films. If the filmmakers elect to focus more heavily on the robots themselves, rather than their human counterparts, the films could then show character development in the autobots and let the audience know more about where they came from and why the planet of Cybertron was destroyed by the civil war.
Similar to Slingshot, Drift shared an affinity for the Decepticons so much so that he was actually one of them. But Slingshot changes his loyalty and commits his skills as a swordsman to the Autobot cause. This character development, if followed through to the film, could mean that the fourth film will explore the greater implications of the two factions of the conflict. And perhaps even explain more about the individual character who fight for each side.
But regardless of the new Transformers, “Pimp My Ride” makeover and the inclusion of two new characters and their awesomely brilliant wheel forms, the film will be a box office treat, as fans queue up again to see their childhood heroes revamped and revisited.
By Michael Smith