The Transformers cartoons make up a special part of many people’s childhoods. Its different iterations have ensured that every generation since the ’80s have had a type of contact with the franchise. One particularly special cartoon was the classic Generation 1 that introduced kids to the original toys.

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Then, the live-action movies were released. While they might not be the pinnacle of cinema, they are still Transformers. These movies can be pretty entertaining and ramp up the spectacle beyond what the cartoons can offer. No matter if someone loves the cartoons more than the movies, or vice-versa, here are five reasons each side can claim they are “better.”

10 CARTOONS: They Had More Heart

In Generation 1, Transformers didn’t have to deal with an adult audience, so the writers could imprint as much heart and warmth in these stories as they wanted. This is not to say they were simply kid stories, but they were not as cynical as the Transformers movies.

That’s a detriment to the films, which are so eager to appeal to a wider audience they sometimes fall short in heart and good-will storytelling. The cartoons were able to tell more wholesome stories with their characters.

9 MOVIES: The Action

The action in most of the Transformers cartoons is pretty neat. Many of the iterations were able to convey a feeling of excitement not many shows can express. What could be more exciting than giant transformable robots battling each other?

Well, give those battles a Hollywood budget and finely tuned visual effects and the end result is awesome action that the cartoons could not match in a billion years.

8 CARTOONS: Optimus Prime

Of the many forms that Optimus Prime has taken in the cartoons, none is less appealing than the version in the movies. His charisma, leadership, and rightfulness are transmitted in passionately ways in the cartoons, from Robots in Disguise to Beast Wars‘ Optimus Primal.

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It may be the design, but Optimus Prime doesn’t transmit the same energy in the movies. This is correlated to the cartoons having more heart then the films, and the leader of the Autobots’ portrayal gets affected by that.

7 MOVIES: More Adult Tone

Despite Transformers pushing boundaries of what a kids cartoon could do regarding mature storylines, a full-grown adult who didn’t grow up watching the cartoons might have a hard time getting into their stories.

That’s something that makes the Transformer movies great since they introduce these characters to a more general audience, potentially even creating new fans of the franchise. They were also allowed to explore a more adult-oriented side of Transformers.

6 CARTOONS: Variety

Movie franchises get stale very fast since the Hollywood system tries to repeat the success of the first movie over and over again. While the latest Transformer movies introduce some new concepts, that’s not enough to bring the stories to a new level.

On the other hand, cartoons are not bound by such a restrictive vision. Many fans of the Autobots and Decepticons can expect a new show every so few years, with a fresh animation style and exciting stories. This can lead to inventive shows such as Prime.

5 MOVIES: Higher Stakes

Shows for children are infamous for being too predictable. It can be difficult to find a cartoon that actually raises the stakes to the point of generating true fear for the protagonist and their lives. Unfortunately, in many Transformers cartoons, audiences know the heroes will win at the end.

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Movies aren’t that better regarding their predictability but the more adult tone allows them to raise the level of stakes. The violence, explosions, and human actors help keep the illusion of risk alive.

4 CARTOONS: Animation

Some may say the animation in the Transformer movies is top-notch, and they are not wrong. Special effects have allowed filmmakers to bring these characters to life in a very ingenious way. However, they could never surpass the animated shows.

The reason for this relies on the necessity for the films to be photorealistic. It may not feel like it, but that puts a strong restriction in terms of what an animator could do. In the cartoons, there are no limits, resulting in a great diversity of animation styles.

3 MOVIES: Different Take On Character

Not many fans of the cartoons were thrilled to see that Bumblebee was made into a mute in the movies, or that some of their favorite characters changed in many ways.

However, Bumblebee from 2018 was a huge hit and was able to reinvent the character in an interesting way. The movies can offer exciting interpretations of the characters that, otherwise, fans wouldn’t be able to see in the cartoons.

2 CARTOONS: Transformers Facial Expressions

This is related to the cartoons having more emotion than the movies. One example of this is the facial expressions of the Autobots and Decepticons. Through animation, fans are able to see more heartfelt moments and feel them in a satisfying manner.

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The movies do not always allow viewers to properly see the faces of the Transformers. Too much is happening in those face animations. The technology that tried to give more “realistic” looks to the Autobots and Decepticons ended up making it harder to connect with them.

1 MOVIES: Michael Bay

If it weren’t for the Transformers movie franchise, Michael Bay’s catalog would be pretty thin. If nothing else, his movies are bombastic adventures worthy of experiencing.

Michael Bay also developed the visual style for the franchise. The action wouldn’t have been possible without him and Bay helped make the movies huge commercial hits. While the franchise might need a proper reboot, Bay’s run did deliver something unique.

NEXT: Every Live-Action Transformers Movie (Ranked By Metacritic)


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