When our favorite characters become super-sized it can either mean the stakes have been raised unbelievably high, or paradoxically lowered because of the absurd amounts of raw power being thrown around. How a normal person would truly react if granted the powers of the Phoenix, the Autobot Matrix of Leadership, or the entirety of the Time Vortex is unclear. All we know is that it’s really entertaining to watch characters get powered up and/or super-sized onscreen.
Check below the cut for some instances of how becoming briefly god-like does/doesn’t work out.
A quick note: We stuck with a short list of onscreen transformations, leaving out other media, most especially video games, where villains and heroes super-sizing happens so often they’re calling it “One Winged Angel” over on TVTropes.
Hot Rod Becomes Rodimus Prime (1987’s Transformers: The Movie)
Though Stan Bush’s “The Touch” was briefly taken away from us by Dirk Diggler in Boogie Nights, it’s important to remember that it was originally the theme song which plays while Optimus Prime fights Megatron at the beginning of Transformers: The Movie and, more importantly, the song which plays at the end of the movie when Hot Rod morphs into Rodimus Prime. He literally grows three sizes, develops super strength, and throws Galvatron through the walls of Unicron and out into space. And then simply by standing around, he causes Unicron’s head to explode. (He also randomly gains a trailer and camper shell when in car mode.) When the Transformers TV show decided to bring Optimus back, Rodimus Prime shrank back down to Hot Rod, robbing him of his camper shell, and large size. Oh well, god-mode was probably fun while it lasted.
Disney Baddies Get Large: Maleficent /Ursula/Jafar (Sleeping Beauty, The Little Mermaid, Aladdin)
One can freak out in a variety of ways on just how damaging or socially irresponsible the various animated Disney fairy tale movies have been throughout the years. But on a basic movie level, there’s no denying the sublime beauty of Sleeping Beauty. You’ve got a bona fide classical score, amazingly researched animation (those guys replicated a bunch of medieval tapestries for the backgrounds) and a totally memorable final sequence. When Maleficent turns into a giant dragon to do battle with Prince Philip, it’s chilling and frightening. But, why didn’t Maleficent use this power before? Or all the time? More importantly, why did Disney choose to have later antagonists simply grow in size and power for the climaxes of other films? Yes, it’s also scary when Ursula and Jafar become super-sized in their respective films, but Maleficent as the dragon is the original, at best relegating Urulsa and Jafar into the poser category.
Skeletor Becomes a Weird Gold Priest (Masters of the Universe)
Before his turn on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, or later in well-known science fiction epic Frost/Nixon, Frank Langella was best known as the live-action version of Skeletor in the big screen adaptation of Masters of the Universe. Did this film launch the careers of Courtney Cox and Robert Duncan McNeil? No one knows, but yes. Do Skeletor’s evil antics involve crashing a prom? Yes. Wait, is he riding on Jabba’s sail barge? Be quiet. What is important is the fact that in the final moments of the film, Skeletor dons a golden crown and becomes super-mega emperor Skeletor. Thankfully, He-Man dispatches this joker fairly quickly. How did Skeletor obtain these temporary god-like powers? We can’t remember, although he looks far more impressive as Gold Skeletor than he ever did in the cartoons.
Gandalf the Grey Comes Back from the Dead as Gandalf the White (The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers)
Though Gandalf returns from the dead in The Two Towers, he is in many ways not the same person who plunged to his doom in the Mines of Moria. When Gandalf switches his moniker from “the Grey” to “the White” he takes on some of the more ruthless and all-powerful traits of his fallen brethren, Saruman. Gandalf the White is initially less kind than his earlier incarnation, and one gets the impression he is beyond caring about certain social nuances and graces. When you’ve got the kind of power Gandalf does at this stage in his life, it’s got to be a little overwhelming. Tolkien greatly enjoyed tackling the notion of a person being granted unlimited power without truly seeking it. Though we never really think Gandalf is tempted by the power of the ring (beyond his initial freak out when hobbits are trying to hand it off to him), you know that the mantle of power does haunt him, and sometimes threatens to break his code of ethics.
Gul Dukat Is Possessed by a Pah-Wraith Constantly (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine “The Tears of the Prophets” and “What You Leave Behind”)
When Gul Dukat becomes possessed by the Pah-Wraiths in the last episode of Deep Space Nine, he enters into a final duel to the death with Ben Sisko, the Emissary of the Prophets. The powers he is imbued with primarily seem to be a kind of telekinesis, as he is able to make Sisko kneel at his feet. (Bad buys with temporary power are always into people kneeling. Must be a trick they all pick up from General Zod.) In any case, Sisko also seems to have temporary super powers, and both duke it out like Space-Titans in a final showdown of good versus evil.
The Pah-Wraiths are responsible for more than one power-up during the course of the show, as well. Dukat’s initial possession occurs earlier in the show when he’s trying to steal an orb of the Prophets, and he kills poor Jadzia Dax in the attempt. The Prophet/Pah-Wraith showdown almost happens earlier in the show, as well, during “The Reckoning,” when both god entities choose Jake and Kira as their hosts, forcing Sisko to choose who to save.
Rose Tyler as the Bad Wolf (Doctor Who “The Parting of the Ways”)
One of the few instances where a character enters god-mode, does something good, then lives to tell the tale.
When Rose absorbs the whole of the time vortex, she realizes she’s always been the “Bad Wolf” that’s been stalking her and the Doctor through time. She fulfills her role, saves the Doctor, brings Captain Jack back to life (FOREVER), and casually destroys the Dalek fleet with the power of her mind. (“You are tiny. I can see the whole of time and space, every single atom of your existence, and I divide them.” Shivers!) Rose can’t control these overwhelming powers, however, leading the Doctor to sacrifice himself in order to draw them out of her in the form of an awesome kiss. This, as most fans know, creates good news and bad news for the Doctor….
Michael Jackson as a Giant Robot/Spaceship (Moonwalker)
When Joe Pesci threatens to get all the kids of the world “addicted to drugs,” there’s really only one thing for Michael Jackson to do—transform into a giant robot. In the “narrative” of the film Moonwalker Michael Jackson’s friend Katie has been kidnapped by Joe Pesci’s army of stormtroopers, who plan to inject her with “drugs.” In order to stop this, Michael Jackson unleashes his anger at drug users everywhere, which for some reason results in him becoming a robot version of himself. (Previously in the movie, he turned into a car for no reason.) When the robot version of himself proves to be not entirely effective (how???) MJ steps it up one more notch by transforming into a spaceship, which wields a death ray. Afterwards, he’s back to normal and he and the kids go to a concert where he performs the Beatles’ classic “Come Together” and takes off his shirt.
Normal Shredder Mutates Into Super Shredder (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2)
Shredder was the ultimate bad-ass in the TMNT universe. The four ninja turtles could never beat him without the aid of their master Splinter, even though he was mostly just a guy with a weird helmet. When Shredder downs some mutagen at the end of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2 and becomes the super-strong super-spiky Super Shredder they don’t know what the hell to do. And neither would you. I mean, look at that spiky psychopath up there!
Luckily for the turtles but unluckily for the audience, Shredder’s own enthusiasm collapses the entire dock on top of him in, like, five seconds, robbing us of an epic confrontation. This world was never big enough for you, Super Shredder.
What about you, readers? Ever become a super-god? Who are your favorites? When Dr. Smith turns into the arthropod thing in the Lost In Space movie? The Nome King’s rampage at the end of Return to Oz? The Mayor in Buffy season 3? There are so many to choose from!
Stubby the Rocket is the voice and mascot of Tor.com. Stubby once flew through a weird nebula and briefly became Stubby the Obliterator Nova Kill Star Cruiser Death Machine 6000.