Transformers: The Movie - Hot Rod's Leader Role Was More Grueling Than Optimus Prime's
Nicholas Brooks
hotrod and optimus prime from transformers the movie
hotrod and optimus prime from transformers the movie
Released 35 years ago this week, The Transformers: The Movie introduced a new hero named Hot Rod. Like Bumblebee, Hot Rod is a headstrong young Autobot who loves taking risks. During the film, he witnesses the death of Optimus Prime and the passing of the Matrix of Leadership to Ultra Magnus. However, the film's climax eventually reveals Hot Rod as the true leader. As Rodimus Prime, he dealt with much more stress than Optimus ever did, leading to a bittersweet end to his tenure as leader.
As Hot Rod, he was under the mentorship of the gruff and battle-hardened Autobot, Kup. While the two often shared an older and younger brother dynamic, Hot Rod learned a lot from him, including how to look after others. These traits, plus the purity in his spark, also helped him as he took on the role of Rodimus Prime. The Transformers: The Movie ends with a hopeful future for the Autobots and Rodimus, but Season 3 of the animated series shows how the harsh reality of leadership affects him.
Aside from ensuring the safety of his people, Rodimus also has to deal with the constant threat of Galvatron and his Decepticons. Unlike the Decepticon's first leader, Megatron, Galvatron is even bolder and not afraid to strike at the first opportunity. Coupled with his equally dangerous associates, Rodimus learns how constant fighting isn't all fun and adventure. Along with his ongoing battle, Rodimus also has to go through the political motions of a new Planetary Alliance that Cybertron has been made a part of. Since Optimus or any other Autobots never had to deal with any alliances or politics on a galactic scale, this is foreign for everyone, especially Rodimus, who begins to develop issues with confidence.
While he is a capable warrior, Rodimus constantly puts himself down when he's reminded that he isn't Optimus. While emulating a past leader isn't being true to oneself, Rodimus can't help but do it, considering how impactful Prime's leadership was. Rodimus constantly questions his choices and voices his doubts as a leader, and by giving power to those doubts, they continue to weigh on him. His doubtfulness also harkens back to Prime's initial choice for leader, Ultra Magnus, who also doubted himself.
If Galvatron and politics weren't enough stress, Rodimus also had to deal with their species' creators, the Quintessons, and the possible return of Unicron. While the planet-eating threat never reappears, his younger brother, Tornedron, does and proves to be just as powerful. However, even though Rodimus must contend with some gargantuan challenges as a leader, he never does it alone, as the Autobots always stand by his side and assist where they can.
During the Hate Plague, a disease spreads worldwide, turning humans and transformers into angry and violent versions of themselves, coinciding with the return of Optimus Prime. It takes all of Prime's inner fortitude to defeat an infected Rodimus and save the world from the Hate Plague, but he saves all of humanity once he does. Seeing as Optimus has returned, Rodimus chooses to relinquish his leadership position, becoming Hot Rod once more. While he is often criticized for simply being Optimus' replacement, Rodimus Prime does his best to balance the many battles he faces with being a strong leader. But it's hard to fill the shoes of a great leader while facing challenges he never did. In the end, Hot Rod did the best he could and wasn't a bad leader.