Every action movie, especially a franchise one, needs its villains; they must be as varied and distinct as the heroes they strive to destroy. Transformers has the Decepticons, ranging from devious to bungling back in the 80s, to the fanged, spitting monstrosities of today. They are led by Megatron.

*Note, this post contains discussion of the most recent Transformers movie, so if you don’t want some spoilers you might not want to read on.*

Megatron new (left) and old (right)

Megatron had to undergo a few changes before reappearing on the big screen. For a start, this massive machine could no longer transform into a pistol; apparently modern movie-goers wouldn’t be able to accept this. Sure, a giant cube could shrink into one the size of your head, that’s believable. Grumble. Anyway, much as I like the old Megatron, I can’t deny that the new one is pretty menacing. Again, though, Bay’s attempts to make him even more realistic leave me cold – old-school Megatron could be mean enough without drenching an IMAX camera in spittle. No, my problem with the new Decepticons in general, and their leader in particular, is that they seem to be so readily expendible. Granted, they don’t have a few series to develop all of the characters fully, but shouldn’t the mighty Megatron be a bit more hardcore? In the first film he spends about a quarter of an hour wiping the floor with Optimus Prime’s shiny metal ass and then he’s melted by the Beef, and in the second film super-Prime dismantles him in less than a minute! Other Decepticons get even less screen time, causing mild carnage before being turned into scrap so quickly that you actually start to feel sorry for them! You really can’t have villains so weak that they make the good guys seem over-righteous.

Starscream new (left) and old (right)

Starscream, Megatron’s not-so-loyal lieutenant, another face with too much going on, but looks plenty evil, fine. He suffers from chronic under-development. In the original series he’s always trying to assume leadership of the Decepticons, through any underhanded means necessary. Something that surprised be with the second of the two films was that none of the other Decepticons had made a play for power after Megatron’s demise. They’re just so limited.

Devastator new (left) and old (right)

I actually struggled to find another Decepticon from the first of the new movies that was worthy of mention, so I had to resort to Devastator from the latest film. He’s a mega-bot made up of five or six normal-sized Decepticons, good opportunity for a pretty cool bad guy, huh? Wrong. He spends a fair amount of time inhaling sand, gets beaten up by two tiny, racially stereotyped Autobots, and then gets blasted with a rail gun fired by some nameless extra twenty miles away. What a disappointment. I mean, what’s he even meant to be? The picture’s not the greatest, but watch the film and you’ll see. Wait, am I advertising that film now?

Next week’s love interests, humans and optional extras, as requested.