Soundwave in Next Transformers Movie?

Potential future Transformers movie installments could include Soundwave, the Dionbots, as well as the Constructicons.
By Ethan Kaye
with additional reporting by Mike Cotton

The year was 1986, and it was a golden age for humanity. Prince’s “Kiss” was at the top of the charts, Ernst Ruska won the Nobel Prize in Physics and the Transformers were coming to the silver screen for the first time. Kids across America flocked to the theaters to see their after-school cartoon idols 20 feet tall…and left in tears, weeping over the death of Optimus Prime and the indignity of Eric Idle saying “Ba weep grana weep ninny bong!”

But the seeds had been planted—someday, somehow, there would be a live-action Transformers movie, one that would allow the Transformers to walk and fight among real, living human beings. Now, 21 years later, the dreams of those children—who are now 30 years old and have very high expectations—have become reality! Director Michael Bay has constructed his own eye-popping interpretation of the alien invaders, and it promises to make America’s favorite giant robots (and their brutal, metal-on-metal brawls) more real than ever before.

We have the technology...
The last time a toy line was popular enough to warrant a live-action movie was 1987’s Masters of the Universe with an oily Dolph Lundgren…which bombed. And while there’ve been rumors of a Transformers live-action film for years, there were always questions of whether the technology was there to realize it. But soon it became clear that this was a project that Hollywood—and the fanbase—was ready for.

“I gave Mike [DeLuca, producer] a call,” says producer Tom DeSanto, “and Mike was like, ‘Look, I don’t get this. It’s not my generation. Transformers is just something that I’m not familiar with.’ I said, ‘You know what? That’s not the audience. We’re not the audience anymore. The audience is the 18 to 34 year-olds.’ That’s what you have to work for and find out what movies they want to see.”

Bay was another doubting Michael, and he was reluctant to tackle a “toy movie” at first. But with Steven Spielberg producing through Dreamworks, Bay eventually jumped on board to create what could be the new gold standard in toy movies. Much better than Masters of the Universe, anyway.

That meant a lot of test animation and a lot of actors who could interact with invisible, 30-foot co-stars. And in this film, that’s a big chunk of the cast: the robot roll call includes Autobots Optimus Prime, Bumblebee, Jazz, Ratchet and Ironhide, as well as Decepticons Megatron, Starscream, Brawl, Bonecrusher, Scorponok, Blackout, Barricade and a CD player named Frenzy (a Bay favorite).

“I like this little teenie guy,” Bay says of the Soundwave-inspired character. “I called him Sound Bite, but I think that he’s Frenzy—I keep using the ‘a.k.a.’ names because we tried to keep them secret. He’s really funny and he’s vicious.”

Playing with the fanboys
Remember earlier when we mentioned that those 30 year-old kids have high expectations? Well, for some hard-core Transfans, those expectations may have already been lowered. While nobody can argue that the designs are intricate and visually rich, online fan reaction to the new looks has been frequently scathing, with purists condemning any departure from the original designs. But Bay knows that pleasing fans isn’t an easy chore.

“I would love to show a 1980s version of a Transformer digitally rendered in a real environment, and it’s just a bunch of block squares and how lame it’ll look,” says Bay, who prides himself on the complexity and realism of the robots that have been created for the film. “Just to give an example, on Ironhide’s gun there are 10,000 parts.”

While full-body shots of the characters have been leaked (and the toys based on the film have hit stores), the trailers and the stills from the movie show as little of the actual robots as they can get away with. While it may seem like teasing, the studio hopes it will make for a better film experience—after all, Spielberg learned not to show the main attraction too early when he directed Jaws in 1975. “We don’t want to do what King Kong did,” says Bay. “They showed King Kong in every single commercial, and the mystery was kind of gone.”

But while they may not want fanboys to see the Transformers yet, the studio definitely wants them to hear them—especially Optimus Prime, who’s voiced by the original cartoon voice actor Peter Cullen. “Peter was the guy. There was no one else,” says DeSanto. “The first time I saw Optimus transforming with Peter Cullen’s voice speaking those lines, that was when I was like, ‘Okay, that’s Optimus.’ Peter is really the heart and soul of that character and he infused so much into it. He’s part of the reason that we all have a job today, because he and Frank [Welker, the original voice of Megatron] and all of the voice actors in the ’80s really created this empathy with those characters.”

So where’s Welker? “I put his voice against our big beast, Megatron,” says Bay, “and it was just too light. It was too much of a cartoon. He’s a great voice actor, but how are you going to go to Frank Welker and say, ‘Hey, I want to change your voice for our big beast here.’ You can’t do that.” Hardcore Welkerites will have to content themselves with hearing him voice Megatron in the movie-tie-in video game.

Considering that the role of Megatron ultimately went to the rumbling pipes of fanboy fave Hugo Weaving (The Matrix, Lord of the Rings, V For Vendetta), it’s hard to stay mad, and Bay is confident that he’s done what he can to please the die-hards. “I’ve had hardcore guys see the movie. I wanted to get their perspective, and in their words, ‘It’s f---ing awesome.’ So whatever that means.”

Generation Next
With today's July 3 release date upon us, talk has already turned to the presumably inevitable sequel. Luckily, recent box-office draw Shia LaBeouf (Disturbia) is signed on to return, if needed, as Sam Witwicky. Bay hasn’t committed to a second film, but he hasn’t ruled out listing another franchise beneath Bad Boys on his resume. “It’s kind of weird to hand it off, because I know intimately how to do it now,” he explains.

If the Autobots and Decepticons do return, there are plenty of stories to tell and plenty of characters to introduce. Bay has said that the idea of giant combiner robots made up of smaller Transformers had to be dropped from the first film, and DeSanto has his own ideas about how to work the Constructicons and the Dinobots into a future installment.

“I’m a huge Soundwave fan,” DeSanto says of the’80s cassette player. “We all tried to make it work, but it was just not going to fit in. But I think that’s one of the characters that we all want to try and make work if we’re lucky enough to make a sequel, because Soundwave is kind of the Boba Fett of the mythology.”

Would that make the next movie the Empire Strikes Back of the franchise? If so, then sign us up ahead of time.

0 Yes
0 No
Wizard Universe