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Supervillains, wherever they come from, are always interesting. In fiction, they are usually very powerful and their stories, especially their origins, are always a fun thing and usually give a good representation of the creativity of the authors. Today, we are going to talk about one such story, as you are going to find out why Megatron, the main villain of the Transformers franchise, turned evil.
Megatron was initially a revolutionary who fought against the corrupt leaders, but as he became one himself, the power corrupted him into becoming a tyrant.
In 1984, Hasbro and Takara Tomy released a toy line that included robots that could transform into vehicles. They were Japanese toys rebranded for the Western market, based on the Diaclone and Microman toy lines. The toy line was named Transformers and it would soon enough become a pillar of modern pop-culture, with a series of animated shows, comic books, video games and – subsequently – live-action movies that created one of the most important franchises in the world.
Who is Megatron?
Megatron is a fictional robot from the Transformers franchise, a supervillain robot and the leader of the evil Decepticons; he has been an integral part of the whole franchise and its most famous antagonist, despite not being the strongest one.
The original Megatron was the leader and warlord of the Decepticons. He serves as the nemesis of the Autobot leader Optimus Prime. In most incarnations, after meeting his demise, usually at Optimus’ hands, Megatron would be resurrected as Galvatron.
Megatron is usually depicted as having risen up from being a lowly worker to become a champion in gladiatorial fights. As a gladiator, he took the name of the legendary “Megatronus”—one of the original Thirteen Primes who betrayed his comrades and became the first Decepticon—as his own, and would similarly inspire a later villainous character. He became an activist, trying to reform Cybertron’s corrupt governing body and end its unfair caste system.
During his early days, he mentored the young Orion Pax, and together they championed the downtrodden and preached that freedom of self-determination was the right of all sentient beings. Orion Pax would later become Optimus Prime and utilize Megatron’s teachings against him when he became corrupt.
Megatron could transform into three types of guns: a Walther P38 handgun, a particle-beam weapon, and a telescopic laser cannon. He has the ability to transform between his robot shape and various weapons or vehicles, but these “alternate-modes”, his origins and even personality, can vary depending on which “generation” he is depicted in.
Why did Megatron turn evil?
To fully understand why Megatron became an evil tyrant, we must explore his history, because there lies the answer to our question.
There are some differences in continuity when Megatron’s early history is concerned. According to his first origin story, he was a descendant of the Decepticons who rose up against the Autobot leaders, years after the Autobots had defeated the Decepticons in a civil war, thanks to their discovery of transformation; the Decepticons eventually also discovered how to transform, but it was too late to win the first war. Not long into the Golden Age of Cybertron, Megatron made a small strike on an outer city, killing the then-current Autobot leader. However, this event was not made public knowledge, and young robots like the naive Orion Pax still looked up to Megatron and his followers because of their new robot-mode flight powers and their nominal battle against the corrupted system. Orion soon learned the error of his ways when Megatron duped him into allowing him access to Energon warehouses, and Megatron fatally wounded him in a scuffle. However, the ancient Autobot, Alpha Trion, reconstructed Pax into a battle hardy configuration—now, he was Optimus Prime, leader of the Autobots and Megatron’s sworn opponent as the civil war erupted again.
As you can see, according to this first origin story, Megatron was – as a Decepticon – automatically evil and was a power hungry usurper who wanted to rule over Cybertron, and that was the main force behind the civil war that destroyed the planet.
But Megatron’s origin story changed and there is now a more widely accepted origin that gives the character more depth. This origin story portrays Megatron as a miner who fights alongside Sentinel Prime to defeat the Quintesson occupation of Cybertron. Yet, after defeating the Quintessons, a corrupt caste system was imposed on Cybertron and Megatron once again ended up among the lowest parts of the society. Fed up with being a miner, he became a gladiator and was immensely successful. Desiring to establish a new identity for himself and reshape Cybertron, he took the name of Megatronus – in honour of the first Decepticon and one of the original Thirteen primes – which was eventually shortened to Megatron by his followers. He eventually began using his fame as a gladiator to take a political stance, crying for the lower members of Cybertronian society to rise up and claim what was rightfully theirs. In the process of this, he attracted the attention of a data clerk named Orion Pax, who contacted Megatron and began consulting with him regarding their agenda.
Megatron’s followers soon began launching terrorist attacks which he denied involvement in, and he arranged through Orion to appear before the High Council of Cybertron. There Megatron argued for the destruction of the old system, while Orion called for reform; it was after their appeals that the Council renamed Orion, dubbing him Optimus Prime and charging him with seeking out the Matrix of Leadership. Enraged by this ruling, Megatron and his Decepticons declared war against Optimus and his Autobot adherents.
As you can see, this origin story is not that different, but the essence of Megatron’s character changes. He was an influential revolutionary and an idol for a lot of underprivileged Transformers. And while he did initially fight for a better and more just society, his plans to completely destroy the then-current social order and build a new one were just wishes of a power hungry tyrant who lost his ideals along the way. Ironically, Megatron succumbed to the same power-lust as the oppressors against which he had fought and we can say that it was the greed for power that ultimately corrupted him and turned him into a villain.
And there you have it! This is the whole story of how Megatron, the main villain of the Transformers franchise, became evil. His path was a truly difficult one and the irony of his transformation (pun intended) into an evil tyrant is certainly an interesting take on how much actual power corrupts. He was an idol for many, but has become that which he has fought against so desperately.
And that’s it for today. We hope you had fun reading this and that we helped solve this dilemma for you. See you next time and don’t forget to follow us!