Transformers fans all over the world are checking out the first chapter of Netflix and Rooster Teeth's new Transformers: War For Cybertron series, titled Siege, which takes fans back to the planet Cybertron before the Autobots ever made it to Earth. Fans get an up-close look at the brutal war between the Autobots and Decepticons, and that includes a welcome spotlight on Elita-1, who had a huge part in making sure Megatron couldn't completely control Cybertron and the Transformers that call it home. ComicBook.com had the chance to talk to Elita-1 voice actress Linsay Rousseau all about the series' first chapter, including how War For Cybertron finally shines a light on who Elita-1 is as an individual and a leader as opposed to just being a romantic interest for Optimus Prime.
"Yeah. I mean, it's interesting. Sometimes she kind of has devolved into, 'Oh, she's the love interest of Optimus,' but for me, it goes far beyond that," Rousseau said. "I mean, in my personal opinion, she taught Optimus everything he knows. She is a soldier, she is a powerful warrior, she truly cares about her people, about the other Autobots and about protecting them, and she has just spent her entire life fighting to protect people from the Decepticons. And she, in her own right, has kind of led a lot of the troops in the wars and the battles between the Autobots and the Decepticons."
Her relationship with Optimus is only one small aspect of her character, and as you'll see in the series, they really lead the Autobots as a team.
"Yes, she has been a love interest of Optimus Prime, but the way I see it, it was kind of a partnership of equals," Rousseau said. "He has always been kind of the face of the Autobots, but I really firmly believe he would not have been able to have done all the things that he did without Elita-1's support, both as a warrior and a strategist throughout all the different iterations of her, which I think are a little better fleshed out within the comic books, but there's obviously the early iterations of her in some of the older Transformers animated series."
If you think about it, Optimus pretty much leaves Cybertron behind for Earth, so who do you think picked up the slack? "Yeah. Right. And it's like, well, when Optimus Prime isn't on Cybertron, who's in charge? I'd say that it's Elita-1," Rousseau said. "I know, he just picks up and leaves for, what, thousands of years, I'm pretty sure. I've had fans reaching out to me being like, 'We need the Elita-1 spinoff, Elita in charge of Cybertron while Optimus is just gone', and I was like, 'That is a very valid argument.'"
Elita-1 has seen several different interpretations over the years in the comics and in animation, but War For Cybertron boils those varying versions down into the core version of who she is with a modern flourish
"So for me, I love being able to go to the source material and really see, okay, what was in the original comics? What did people originally have planned for her? But obviously a lot has happened since those comics came out, and I feel the story that they created for War for Cybertron is very fresh," Rousseau said. "It's very modern. It's still being true to your previous stories and what fans have always loved about Transformers, but it really fits for today. And F.J. DeSanto, I feel like, has done an amazing job. And then, of course, all the folks at Rooster Teeth and Polygon Pictures, their art blows me away. And then the music, the composer, the voice director Philip Bach was amazing, and so I'm very excited to see what happens."
War For Cybertron delivers a Transformers that is perfect for new and old fans alike, but it also gives girls and boys characters that they can fall in love without falling into dated gender barriers. This is a show for everyone, period.
"I really do think that this is something that new people can really jump into, and for me personally, I feel for a very long time we had this dichotomy between girls' shows and boys' shows, and girls' toys and boys' toys," Rousseau said. "And I think a lot of times, Transformers kind of fell under that category of, 'Oh, that's a boys' show. Those are boys' toys.' We have the fembots, which always seemed very separate from the rest of the Autobots., which it always drove me crazy. I'm like, 'No.' So I really think with this version of Transformers, everybody can enjoy it. There are amazing female characters, and there are amazing male characters. They're also, they're giant robots."
"And I've had a lot of women reach out to me on Twitter, saying 'Oh my gosh, we're so excited. I'm going to watch this with my daughter', and that just makes me so happy," Rousseau said. "They announced the Elita-1 toy recently. You can pre-order it as a Walmart Exclusive and I was like, 'Yes, we get an Elita-1 toy.' Because that's always been an issue too, is you have these amazing female characters in fandom, and kind of when The Last Jedi came out, it's like where's Rey? Where are the toy representations? And kind of that idea that, well, boys don't play with girls' toys and vice versa, and I love that we can get rid of that and just enjoy the fandom as a whole."
Speaking of that action figure, it's pretty sweet, and finally gives the character the ultimate figure she deserves while also fulfilling a dream for Rousseau in the process.
"I know. Oh my gosh. It's so funny. I remember talking to people when I got into voiceover. I was like, "You know what? My life will be complete the day I have an action figure." And it's just of those lofty dreams. You're like, "One day." And then it's like to have it announced, you're like, "I can point to something and be like, 'That's me.'" And one of my oldest, oldest friends, he just had a daughter a couple of months ago. And I remember telling him, I was like, 'When I get my action figure, I'm sending it to you.' And I'm so excited. I was like, now I can finally send his little baby that action figure. So it really is kind of surreal to be able to look at something and see that that is a representation of something that you've done."
War For Cybertron is giving fans a look at the Transformers universe in a new and modern way, and while the Transformers will assuredly make their way to Earth at some point, fans will get a much richer understanding of the stakes at play, who these characters are, and what they sacrificed to get there thanks to this more adult story.
"I think what fans will take away from this is that we're seeing a slice of Transformers history and Transformers lore that we haven't seen before, and we're seeing what's going on on Cybertron," Rousseau said. "Obviously, a lot of what's happened with Transformers in the past is Transformers on Earth, so I think being able to look at the events that happen on Cybertron and kind of really getting an understanding of what fueled this schism between the Autobots and the Decepticons is really cool."0comments
"And also, I think it's really giving us fleshed out characters," Rousseau said. "I'm not saying that we haven't had that before, but I think it really is giving us kind of a different side of some of these characters. And as the trailer has shown, there's some darkness and some grit to this, which I think is going to be also a side of things that not a lot of previous iterations of Transformers have really delved into. That's another thing the fans are really going to appreciate with this, is it very much is an adult story. I mean, absolutely kids are going to love it, but I think adults are also really going to like it as well, which I think is kind of on par with a lot of what Netflix and some other streaming services have been doing with animation, is that we are getting more and more content that can appeal to an older audience. Not just people that were Transformers fans back in the day, but people coming to this new, who are your age and my age and have maybe never watched Transformers before can enjoy it as something new and fresh that different age groups can get something out of."
You can catch Rousseau as Elita-1 in Transformers: War For Cybertron right now on Netflix, and if you want to talk all things Transformers you can always find me on Twitter @MattAguilarCB!