Look, I get it. Optimus Prime is a very important Transformer. He was the commander of the Autobots, saved the world from Megatron and the evil Decepticons countless times, and even came back from the dead on multiple occasions. He’s a big deal. But each year, more and more people get more and more obsessed with Prime Day, and I’ve begun to wonder: when will Optimus Primal get his due?!
Optimus Primal, if you don’t know—and what a tragedy for the public educational systems if you don’t—was the leader of the heroic Maximals in the Transformers: Beast Wars and Beast Machines cartoons. Although the Maximals and their foes the Predacons existed long after the Autobot-Decepticon war, a timewarp sent both groups into Earth’s distant past, forcing them to take bio-organic forms. During that period, Primal not only protected the nascent Earth, but even history itself by saving the life of the unconscious Optimus Prime (it’s a timeline thing, don’t worry about it).
Like his namesake, Primal gave his life twice for these causes, first to stop the aliens called the Vok from destroying Earth with their Planet Buster weapon. The second time, he sacrificed himself to save the sparks—i.e., souls—of all Transformers, which had been absorbed by the Predicon leader Megatron (named after his Decepticon ancestor), and well as their home planet of Cybertron. Truer words were never spoken these from the Transformers fan wiki’s entry on Optimus Primal:
“Optimus Primal is extraordinary for not only being able to distinguish himself, despite living in the shadow of Optimus Prime, but he may even have surpassed the greatest of the Autobots, seeing as he saved the life of his namesake and ushered in a new techno-organic Cybertron. It is possible Optimus Primal is the greatest Cybertronian hero who has ever lived.”
And this is despite Primal’s flaws. He suffered from depression when he failed, he could be a bit stuffy, and he even briefly turned into a fanatic determined to transform Cybertron into a completely organic planet. But each time Primal managed to pull himself from the brink to do the right thing and save the day. I’d argue that these flaws don’t make Optimus Primal less heroic than Optimus Prime, but instead more compelling and more relatable.
So on this joyous Prime Day, why don’t you cut your Optimus Prime celebrations short to devote some time recognizing the other Optimus, the one who somehow never gets his due. The one who is forgotten. The one who is a robot ape. Not so long ago, classic Transformers fanboys coined the phrase “trukk not munky” to extol the virtues of the original series over Beast Wars. This year, make it “munky not trukk” and give Optimus Primal his long overdue… uh, due.
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