There are few things in media that instill actual fear in people. As often as G1 is recalled for being "great", today I'm making yet another positive point towards it. Let's face it, Megatron is a wimp in G1. Always was and sadly always will be. Yelling "Decepticons retreat" at the end of each episode. Whimpering at the loss of his wacky doomsday weapons. But there was always this real feeling about him that well, scared us. It would allow him to surpass his wimpyness and visually represent death. Today's tool of death that is. This visual cue would provide the perfect balance and the necessary justification for treating the Decepticons as a threat. It was his gun mode. He turned into the weapon that makes whoever wields it.... a panic inducing murderer. It symbolized pointing and ending someone's life. Such powerful imagery. Rather than be a jet or a car or a truck, Megatron saw beyond that and didn't care, because he was all about power. All about execution. He projected his power in his gun mode. His fusion cannon was always an allusion to his gun mode. His design is simple, your average tin head with eyebrows. Nothing special about him. He allowed the writers to script him as a wimp, but always had the last laugh when he turned into a gun. The gun....something which we all fear. Everyone listens to whoever has a gun. Guns turn normal situations into chaos. It's the mystery of who will get shot and when, that creates suspense.
The crown performance that showed everyone that Megatron was a big deal was obviously in the animated movie. He no longer was a wimp. Two words when uttered bring about horrific memories and still to this day cause fans to shake their heads in despair......"Die Autobots". It was the perfect combination of a surprise attack, superb animation, a passionate Frank Welker and the horrific death of key Autobots....all while the incredibly rage induced "Instruments of Destruction" soundtrack was playing. The scene was only one minute and 25 seconds long! But it was exceptionally efficient. We knew then and there that Megatron was not kidding around. Next time you hear someone announce "Decepticons", you knew hell was breaking loose. Brawn, Prowl, Ironhide, Ratchet. Died instantly. They burst into flames for god's sake. From the inside! Now that set the tone. And Megatron didn't need to transform again. He ruthlessly killed Prime and it was epic. We got to see how dark the Decepticons can be. How powerful. So now when any Decepticon announces "prepare for extermination", we have a visual sense of what that could be. The words "Decepticons Attack" had meaning, focus, and fear attached to it. From a writing stand point, that gave the Autobots more of an achievement when they finally did defeat this threat. It gave the Autobots purpose. It was dynamic without needing to say much. Megatron's ruthlessness was also extended to Galvatron a bit. Here we had a wacky scene with trumpets and coronation of Starscream, and Galvatron just waltzes in and ends it efficiently. Giving no attention to protocol, fancy coronations, and regard to any of the other Decepticons. He commands respect and fear in the audience. You said to yourself, "this guy ain't messing around." While the Autobots had fast talking, dumb story telling characters, the Decepticons were serious and were focused. This contrast is what gave the franchise its spark. All stemming from a tyrannical alternative gun mode, that didn't compromise characterization. It went with it all the way.
Look at Megatron now. To make him "evil", he just has more spikes. In animated, his evil trait was not remembering Optimus's name. He turned into a helicopter! Transformers Prime was actually a great depiction of Megatron, that would have been legendary if he had just been a gun. Not some odd looking cybertronian jet. The new Bay movies had him change modes 3 times. Consider this...consider the scene when Megatron returns, he not only rips Jazz in two, but turns into a gun then Starscream wields him killing two or three of the main human characters. Simmons or Mikala for example. Not hating on them, but that would have shot Megatron's stock through the roof. But in Bayverse, the one who is doing the murdering and the ruthless killing was Optimus! It was freaking Optimus who was ripping faces and decapitating his enemies. Do you see a problem with that ? It should have been Megatron, not the hero! Such wasted potential. And even when they made him a tank, we had a nerfed gun shot with barely any recoil that demonstrated no power. His fusion cannon scene was good in the 2007 film, but having Optimus just stand up and walk after it saying "oh and aaah" was lame. Blackout had a powerful weapon in the beginning of the film. This should have been reserved for Megatron. It just shows me how Megatron's characterization has changed. Even in IDW comics, they seem afraid to bring the Megatron characterization back. Deflating any real threat to the scene by having Prime teleport his consciousness into his trailer and what not. Overlord got a good treatment. Sixshot even had a better treatment than Megatron. It seems like IDW, just like most incarnations of the TF franchise are just piggy back riding on that 1 minute and 25 seconds scene in the animated movie (for reference, scene is embedded below).
And for those that are against the gun because it "doesn't make sense, Why would the most powerful Decepticon need someone to wield him.". You are arguing against the strongest point in what makes the Decepticons a unit. You have to be worthy to wield Megatron. It makes more sense that for him to fire a more powerful shot, he compresses his body and energy so much that whatever comes out of that barrel will annihilate everything in its path.It gave us a dynamic connection between the Decepticons. Soundwave, Starscream, Skywarp, all were worthy of him. As a literary action, this was unique to only Transformers. Nowhere did you see, Thanos or Joker get wielded by his second in command. It was unique. The bread and butter of Decepticons. Now they're depicted as treacherous sith like evil characters with no focal point. And his reduction in size is what made him an awesome toy. Kids don't care. I'd argue that out of all the characters, Megatron broke the fourth wall by turning into something we can hold and play with. Made his toy, the only realistic toy out there ( along with Soundwave and the like).
I don't even like Megatron! The day I saw he was no longer a gun was the day I lost respect for that bot. And started rummaging through other characters that meet my criteria. I do understand his importance though. He was the counter weight to all of this.
I do realize the decision for him to not be a gun was due to kids and safety. Which I support, it's good that they did that. But from a character stand point it has hurt them severely. Hasbro doesn't know what to do with him. They're changing his modes, his allegiance, trying to look through history to make him a revolutionary. It's just that Walther P38 was too iconic. Perhaps an adult themed Transformers is needed, hell if you need writers, I'd love to do it. That could be your only option to not have to make a toy and just create a new audience.
For the record and I gotta say this, I don't like guns. In fact I'm completely pro Hasbro not having any guns in the entire franchise for kids. Yes....I know....I just talked about why Megatron needs to be a gun. But if kids are the target audience, keep violence away from them. I'm analyzing the character here and that's why I would urge him to be a gun only in an adult themed TF series, or even the comics. But I think even IDW comics are rated for younger audiences and are meant to sell toys.