Ricky Church on the greatest fights between Optimus Prime and Megatron…
For over 35 years, the Autobots and Decepticons have waged a constant war against each other throughout the Transformers franchise. No matter what new iteration, whether it be television, comics, video games or feature films, these two factions are always at each other’s throats as the Autobots fight to stop the Decepticons from conquering the universe. While certain elements may change due to the setting or story, at the center of the conflict is the rivalry between Optimus Prime and Megatron, the leaders of the Autobots and Decepticons respectively. These two have a long-lasting relationship that makes theirs one of the best rivalries in pop culture as Optimus and Megatron reflect the best and worst in each other. In many cases for a Transformers series, the outcome of a battle, if not the entire war, hinges on who wins in a fight between them.
Through all of Transformers’ various media, Optimus and Megatron have fought countless times. But which fights rank among their best? Here are some of the best Optimus Prime vs Megatron fights from Transformers series, comics, games and films.
(Dis)Honourable Mention: Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen
Let’s get this out of the way with right now: Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, Michael Bay’s second installment in his live-action Transformers films, is very, very bad. The plot is nonsensical, the humour is terrible and much of the acting annoying. That being said, its only watchable scene is one of the film series’ best as Optimus Prime finds himself fighting against Megatron, Starscream and a big brute named Grindor (not that the movie tells you his name). This 3-on-1 fight is pretty brutal for all the combatants with pieces flying off them, limbs cut off and Prime getting quite a beating from all three at one point. Despite this, it does show why Prime is one of the toughest bots in the franchise as he rouses himself and continues the fight, not only chopping off Starscream’s arm and beating him with it, taking the expression ‘stop hitting yourself’ to a new level, but he rips Grindor’s face in two. It’s all for naught, though, as Megatron (temporarily) kills him. Looking back, it is surprising none of Bay’s film ever gave audiences a proper Optimus Prime vs Megatron fight as the first Transformers film barely showed them fight, much less make it the focus of the climax. Had this fight been strictly Prime and Megatron battling each other, and likely not in Revenge of the Fallen, it might have actually made the list.
The Transformers – ‘More Than Meets The Eye Part 2’
The fight that started it all. The three-part series premiere of the original Generation 1 Transformers series set the tone for what the animated series (and many of the reboots that would follow) would be. While certain elements from the pilot would change within the show, Optimus and Megatron getting into an epic brawl has remained a consistent aspect to the start of and throughout a new Transformers series.
In the second part of the pilot, Megatron and his Decepticons attack the Sherman Dam to create a flood, using the dam’s resulting power to create energon and fuel their galactic conquest. The Autobots arrive to stop them and Optimus and Megatron engage in their first of many one-on-one fights atop the dam. The clash introduced a few staples to their rivalry and brawls, such as their long-standing history and banter with each other. Optimus even talks a bit more trash than he usually does to Megatron, referring to him as a piece of junk and that he’s ready for the scrap heap. Though the fight itself is not particularly as well choreographed or animated as later ones, it is still among their best and most memorable due to the setting, Peter Cullen and Frank Welker’s vocal performance and their choice of weapons. It introduced Optimus’ energon axe and Megatron’s flail, two weapons that, despite their popularity, were never used again in the G1 cartoon. The axe and flail would make their way as accessories in various toys as well as video games, comics and even the live-action films. The Sherman Dam battle is definitely a highlight of their fights.
Transformers Animated – ‘Endgame Part 2’
In most Transformers reboots, the Autobots and Decepticons have been at war for thousands if not millions of years with Optimus Prime and Megatron having led their respective sides for the duration of that time. Transformers Animated took a different track, depicting the Autobots having won the war and the Decepticons scattered throughout the galaxy in rogue cells. Optimus Prime is not the leader of the Autobots, but an unseasoned rookie who gets in way over his head when he and his crew stumble upon the Allspark and Megatron, stranding themselves on Earth. As the series went on Optimus grew more into a strong and competent leader and battles Megatron a few times, though it always seemed a bit impersonal as Megatron never referred to Optimus or any of his comrades by name, simply referring to them as ‘Autobot’.
That changed in the series finale ‘Endgame’ when Megatron launches his latest scheme to invade Earth. When Optimus and Megatron fought and the Decepticon was on the verge of defeat, he reacted with anger and said “At least I will have the satisfaction of destroying you, OPTIMUS PRIME!” to which Optimus merely said “So he can remember my name,” beginning their last fight of the series. It was interesting to see Optimus and Megatron become mortal enemies from a different perspective, almost as if Animated was an origin story of sorts for their relationship. The fight became quite personal and epic as the two fought in the sky, Megatron wielding his swords and Optimus using Ultra Magnus’ hammer, and inflicting some severe damage to each other. Despite this being the series finale and the fourth season having gone unproduced, one can imagine what future might await the pair as Optimus sounded a bit more like Peter Cullen’s iconic voice by the end and returned to Cybertron not just with a captive Megatron, but with the last piece of the Allspark hanging in a familiar-looking device around his neck.
Transformers Prime – ‘One Shall Fall’
Though Transformers Prime may have taken some cues from the Bay films visually, adopting the live-action’s style for some of the Autobots and Decepticons, it was anything but as the series delivered on stories with a character driven narrative and a surprising amount of maturity. Prime had its fair share of levity and goofiness like all Transformers media, but it was not like the G1 cartoon or Animated where those aspects were a bit more emphasized. Rather, Prime was more of a serious take on the franchise similar to Beast Wars with an overarching plot, deeper character development and brutal action. One such instance of the series’ brutality came in Optimus and Megatron’s fight in the season one episode ‘One Shall Fall’.
As Megatron searches for a rare and dangerous substance called Dark Energon to power his army, Optimus comes to the realization that there can never be peace between the Autobots and Decepticons while Megatron lives. While storming the Decepticon warship, Optimus issues a challenge to Megatron, one which he is all too willing and eager to accept. Optimus is sent to Megatron’s location at the base of a volcano and it is there they throw down in a no-holds-barred fight for the fate of the planet. It is not their final fight in Prime, but none of their future encounters ever topped the intensity of this sequence as Optimus and Megatron traded blows. Optimus in particular was more brutal than he usually is, giving his all to end Megatron. At one point he even managed to lock Megatron’s head between his knee and thigh, using the wheels on his legs to run over Megatron’s face and then beat him near to death with energon flying from Megatron’s mouth like blood splatter. It was only luck from Megatron feeling the power of the volcano’s Dark Energon that he tipped the scale back to his favour, bringing the fight to something of a stalemate. Nevertheless, this fight in Prime remained one the series’ highest points.
Transformers: Fall of Cybertron
Rather than watch a fight between the two leaders, fans are placed right in their shoes as the final boss fight in the video game Transformers: Fall of Cybertron allow players to control Optimus Prime or Megatron in the big climax. As the game’s title suggests, the planet has become near uninhabitable due to the drawn out war between the Autobots and Decepticons and Optimus, now a newly christened Prime, leads an exodus from Cybertron in search of a new home as well as a way to prevent Megatron from conquering other planets. They are ambushed though by the Decepticons, leading to an epic fight between the two bots atop the Ark as battles is waged within the ship and in space.
What makes this fight so interesting is this marks the first fight between Optimus Prime and Megatron as the previous game, War for Cybertron, featured Orion Pax gaining the Matrix and becoming Optimus Prime just prior to the final level without meeting Megatron in person. The iteration of these two share a history together, one where they were friends until their ideological differences drove them apart and Megatron began his campaign against the Autobots. During the boss battle the two often speak of their history with Megatron commenting how Optimus was a lowly librarian when they met. Despite that history, their fight is pretty brutal as they both stab each other and don’t hold back, particularly for Optimus as he comes to realize “the universe, no matter how vast, will never be big enough for you and I to coexist”. The fact players can choose who to fight as and transform mid-fight, ramming their opponent at high speeds on top of the Ark as it is literally falling apart, just makes the final boss fight even more epic. It is a shame High Moon Studios suffered a purge of layoffs once Activision acquired it, effectively cancelling any plans for a third game as Fall of Cybertron perfectly set up the transformers’ arrival to Earth for a possible conclusion.
When IDW began publishing Transformers in 2006, they did so with a fresh take that saw Cybertron a radioactive, barren wasteland with the Autobots and Decepticons scattered throughout the galaxy in groups of cells, fighting a covert war on other planets in a long drawn out stalemate. When the war reached Earth and a super-form of energon called Ore-13 was discovered, it reignited the war in a new way as Megatron sought this energon all to himself. It was established that Optimus and Megatron hadn’t seen each other in eons, longer still since they last fought fought each other, so when they finally came face-to-face in Transformers: Escalation there was a clear amount of anticipation for their first battle in IDW’s series.
The artwork evoked the original G1 series with Optimus and Megatron being in slightly modern, updated forms of their classic bodies, a factor which made this battle even more impressive. The banter they shared was kept in the spirit of their characters as Megatron gloated about his newfound power and promised Optimus there would be no human witnesses left alive. There was a real sense of history and even a begrudging respect between the two adversaries, but not enough for Megatron to go easy on Optimus with the power Ore-13 gave him. While most of the fights here ended in either Optimus’ favour or a stalemate, Escalation was a clear victory for Megatron with Optimus barely surviving due to a combination of luck and the Ore-13 rendering Megatron exhausted and powerless once it wore off. It certainly raised the stakes for their relationship and what their later battles might entail.
Transformers: Chaos Theory
Much later in IDW’s continuity and prior to another soft reboot, Optimus Prime and Megatron would engage in an altogether different battle. When a newly rebuilt Megatron surprisingly surrendered to the Autobots and was being taken back to Cybertron to stand trial, Optimus met with him to discover what his true intentions were. Rather than a physical confrontation, this was a more philosophical one as the two leaders actually sat down for a conversation about the war, their methods and their history. It quickly became one of their greatest scenes in any piece of Transformers media.
Optimus wanted to know what it would take for Megatron to finally lay down his cannon and call for his Decepticons to do so as well, but Megatron was of course adamant he was right in his war and quest for conquest. The two sparred over the history of Cybertron and Megatron’s initial reasons for rebelling and how it morphed into something quite monstrous while Megatron chided Optimus on his moral authority after the hypocritical legacy the Primes before him left behind. The discussion led to them reminiscing about their prior battles and the scars they inflicted upon each other with Optimus mentioning the aforementioned battle in Escalation and Megatron making an off-remark about how Optimus cut off his arm during one of their earliest fights to which Optimus asked which arm and Megatron replied “My cannon arm. You always go for my cannon arm.” The degree of familiarity showed, despite being on polar opposite sides, how well these two understood each other and created a bittersweet sense that had things been different they might have been great friends.
The calm nature of their talk didn’t last long, however, as Optimus later went back to Megatron to demand one question which Megatron repeatedly asked him to rephrase to what Optimus truly wanted to know: did he feel even the slightest remorse? Megatron unsurprisingly said no, but then went even further just to provoke Optimus how he would relish killing the very last Autobot even if his grand vision for ‘peace through tyranny’ had been achieved and killing them would make no difference. A later issue of Transformers: More Than Meets The Eye would later go back to this point as a reformed and now remorseful Megatron confessed that while he said those words to make Optimus angry, he was struck by the realization that they were also true, beginning the first step in his long walk to redemption. Either way, this conversation and battle of ideology was one of their best encounters…
Transformers: The Movie
…But their real best battle out of the 35+ years of the Transformers franchise comes from the animated film Transformers: The Movie. Taking place between the second and third seasons of the original G1 series, Megatron launched an all-out assault on the Autobot headquarters on Earth, killing many of the beloved characters from the original wave of The Transformers on both the Autobot and Decepicton sides. It all came to an end when Optimus arrived with reinforcements, mowed down several Decepticons by himself and delivered the immortal words to Megatron that have been a staple of the franchise since: “One shall stand. One shall fall.” Set to Stan Bush’s ’80s rock ballad ‘The Touch’, Optimus Prime and Megatron fought for the very last time ever in the original series as neither one really came out of it alive.
What makes this fight so unique compared to their other battles in The Transformers was they both knew, one way or another, this was to be the end of their millions of years of warring against each other. Unlike some of the modern takes on their rivalry, such as IDW’s or the live-action films, there was no sense of respect or camaraderie between G1 Optimus and Megatron, only a burning animosity and desire to see the other defeated. There is almost no snark or backtalk of any kind from either of them like there was in the More Than Meets The Eye pilot as they both just get right to business after Optimus’ legendary declaration. Due to the more mature nature of Transformers: The Movie, the final fight was a fair bit more graphic than the show (as with everything else in the film) as Megatron stabbed and cut open Optimus’ side, though Optimus got his own wounds in to Megatron since the end of the fight showed both of them cracked and ‘bloodied’ all throughout their bodies. It tragically ends, however, when the newly introduced Hot Rod jumps in to help Optimus at a critical moment, inadvertently giving Megatron not only a hostage but an opening to fatally wound Optimus. It wasn’t completely for naught though as Optimus Prime used the last of his strength to deliver a decisive blow against Megatron, sending him several floors down to the ground and ending the fight there.
It is a very bittersweet and tragic conclusion to their rivalry since soon afterwards Optimus Prime dies while Megatron would have died, but was taken and transformed by the giant planet-eating Unicron into Galvatron, containing most of Megatron’s memories and personality. The death of Optimus was a mark left on a generation of children, so much so that parents wrote to the studio talking about how their child had been crying non-stop over his death. The popularity of Optimus Prime was severely underestimated and he was resurrected at the end of The Transformers‘ third season. Despite the tragedy of Optimus’ death, the epicness of his and Megatron’s final fight continues to rank as the best of their many battles due to the ferocity and determination of both characters.
What are some of your favourite Optimus Prime vs Megatron fights? Let us know on our social channels at @flickeringmyth…
Ricky Church – Follow me on Twitter for more movie news and nerd talk.