We chatted with Richard Roth in the first of our CE4K Minicasts to discuss the history of everyone's favourite iconic transforming leader, Optimus Prime!
Here are some facts (mild spoilers) to wet your appetite!
1) Peter Cullen better known as the definitive 'voice of Optimus Prime' also voiced Eeyore in Winnie the Pooh!
2) Optimus Prime was first known as Orion Pax a dock worker who was converted by Alpha Trion into an Autobot in order to fight Megatron and the Decepticons (in the cartoon).
3) He was a Dodge Viper car in the Alternator's (and Kiss players) toy series.
4) Famous for his striking red and blue colour scheme, Optimus was traditionally mainly blue and black when he first came out as Japanese Diaclone toy.
5) His trailer and Roller have a telepathic link with Prime, they feel each other's pain.
6) In GI Joe he was know as HISS-114.
7) In Beast Wars, Optimus Prime was referred to as Big Mack.
9) In France his G1 toy was released with red feet!
10) In Mexico his G1 toy version had evil looking red eyes!
11) In the British comic, he was also Iacon's chief athlete, and trained as a medic before the war.
12) Prime had a cute and slightly inappropriate manga girlfriend in the very odd and short lived Kiss Players manga comic where robots got powers from kisses. Prime's partner Marissa Faireborne, was the only Kiss Player brought over from previous continuity, fan favourite from season 3 of the G1 cartoon, and daughter of two GI Joes. Had to be awkward for those two to interact in the IDW books.
13) Prime loves cola! He was available as a Pepsi mail away as well as numerous versions of him with a Pepsi sponsored Trailer, and several toys even pulling a Pepsi bottle (Pepsi Blue and Pepsi Twist).
14) Early releases had different hands, fuel pump, and colours for Roller (known as Bloated Prime as everything was bigger).
15) He has died over ten times and had a whole host of evil clones. Young fans were devastated when he died in the Transformers the Movie in 1986, along with a number of other key characters from the first released toy line. This was done to ensure the new wave of toys sold better, but it massively backfired with devastated fans and he had to be brought swiftly back from the dead!
16) He has had cross overs with Japanese fashion brand BAPE (Bathing Ape) who created blue and green camo versions of him for the Masterpiece line (and G1 repaints).
17) He was recently released in the Siege line of toys in grey and black colours in what is dubbed as his 'sleep mode' or 'dead prime' as he is better known.
18) Prime doesn't like music much, always moaning at the Autobot's for their noisy song choices!
Listen to the podcast for more Optimus Prime facts and banter!
This week's episode serves as part 2 in an ongoing series of shows where we pluck a comic book character and explore the numerous on-screen iterations of them over the years. This episode sees the team place Spider-Man under our proverbial spotlight. We examine which actors and films were able to deliver our favourite versions of the character and the difficulty in striking the right tone with our friendly neighbourhood superhero.
Episode #18 of the Close Encounters podcast saw the team (and long time broadcasting buddy) Denis-Jose Francois delve into the many on screen iterations of Batman.
And there sure have been a lot. Like, considerably more than I initially thought.
By my count - and at the time of this writing - Batman has amassed over 14 live action castings (excluding the upcoming Robert Pattinson depiction) with a further seven actors who have portrayed the role through various animated series/movies, TV shows as well as video game roles. And while Adam West may very well be the go-to answer to the question of 'who played the first live action Batman?'... well, as I recently found out, that answer would be very wrong.
Lewis Wilson actually played the first live action iteration of Batman as far back as 1943 for a 15 episode series entitled 'Batman'. This version of Batman pit the Caped Crusader, not against revered enemies like Joker, Penguin or Riddler, but against the "treacherous" Dr Daka who attempted to take over America for Japanese control. Actor Robert Lowery would replace Wilson in the sequel series ('Batman and Robin') which followed in 1949.
Looking back at the YouTube clip here, there really are frightening similarities between this version and the subsequent Adam West depiction which followed fifteen years later. The only difference is that Adam West & co seemed to be completely aware of the show's absurdity while this version perhaps wasn't. "Step up to him... slap his face... hehehe... step back".
That's always been the brilliance of Batman though. The multitude of these intrinsic layers attached to the character that enable storytellers to take Batman in completely new directions: the mildly camp hero, The Dark Knight, the World's Greatest Detective, local billionaire, traumatised youth, etc. Each of these facets have absolutely served as varying inspirations for different filmmakers when bringing to life their vision of Batman over the years and will undoubtedly continue to do so for years to come. Christopher Nolan's 'The Dark Knight' (2008) practically reinvented the superhero movie, proving a comic book movie could be included in the same conversation alongside some of the best intelligent and thought-provoking thrillers.
Following the release of Tim Burton's 1989 'Batman', the phenomenal success of the movie spawned a now notorious quote, "Batman wasn't a film, it was a franchise".
I think the word 'franchise' has now evolved since then to refer to the movie series as a whole but back then it was intended to refer to the wave of commercialism attached to the product - toys, clothing, lunch boxes, posters, etc, etc. It was a comment certainly true for Batman and certainly true for the wave of superhero movies that came afterwards.
The 4Ever team...
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