WARNING: Should this rumor turn out to be true, this article contains MAJOR SPOILERS for Transformers 4. If you are worried about potential spoilers. Turn away now.
For months, we've been hearing that Transformers 4 will be taking Michael Bay's blockbuster franchise in a new direction - and likely serve as the first installment in a new set of films. So what exactly does this fresh franchise direction entail? A leaked (albeit unconfirmed) plot synopsis suggested that human scientists had successfully reverse engineered the Transformers - opening the door for wild alterations to the robots-in-disguise format.
However, Paramount Pictures was quick to "debunk" the leaked plot - which, as anyone that follows pre-release rumors is aware, doesn't necessarily mean the details were inaccurate (the studio could simply be spreading misinformation to distract from a later reveal). The only official information available focuses on the various human characters (their actors and backstories) - without addressing the Transformers 4 storyline or its cybernetic organism cast members. Now, a new rumor could confirm long-running speculation about the upcoming sequel - including the addition of several fan-favorite characters from the G1 series.
Despite an enormous $1.1 billion global box office haul, Transformers: Dark of the Moon was saddled with a lot of franchise baggage - the wandering "boy and his first car" journey of Sam Witwicky (Shia LaBeouf), a reduced and downright underwhelming role for Megatron (one of the franchise's most iconic Decepticons), as well as an increasingly tangled mythology and series storyline, among others. Given that the stars of the film are the giant robots, not their human counterparts, it's no surprise that the filmmakers are reorganizing the property and changing course.
NOTE: The rest of this post contains potential SPOILERS for Transformers 4. This is your final warning, if you do NOT want to know key (albeit rumored) details of the film, turn away now.
Begin (potential) SPOILERS for Transformers 4.
According to an exclusive report from JoBlo, Transformers 4 will include several iconic characters from the classic cartoon series, including the Dinobots and Galvatron - names that should be familiar to anyone who listens to our Screen Rant Underground podcast. For over a year, we've been speculating that Bay could easily incorporate both the Dinobots and Galvatron - with a longterm goal of introducing planet-sized villain Unicron (who was voiced by Orson Welles in 1986's Transformers: The Movie). To listen to those Transformers 4 discussions, check out podcasts episode 57 and 84.
The new JoBlo report sites a "reliable source" who gleaned info from a "recent marketing event." According to the source, Decepticon bounty hunter Lockdown (a character that was featured in the 2007 Transformers: Animated reboot) pilots a ship full of "decommissioned Transformers" - including the Dinobots. The post suggests that Optimus Prime (once again voiced by Peter Cullen) and Bumblebee then find a way to revive the Dinobots - including T-Rex Grimlock and Pteranodon Swoop. Other Dinobot team members Slag (Triceratops), Sludge (Apatosaurus), and Snarl (Stegosaurus) could also appear in the movie but were not specifically mentioned in the news post. Even though beast-like creatures have been fighting on the Decepticon side in the prior three installments (Ravage, Scorponok, and the Driller) bringing the Dinobots into the equation would certainly help freshen up the format.
That said, a less-believable element of the rumor suggests that Optimus Prime and Bumblebee will literally ride Grimlock and Swoop, respectively, into a Hong Kong battle. Swoop flying Bumblebee into a conflict could be cool (and make narrative sense) but picturing Optimus Prime saddled on the back of Grimlock in T-Rex mode is much harder to believe - especially since the Autobot leader had his own flight capability in the last two entries. Yet, given that the information came from a marketing event, it's possible that Hasbro is preparing toy sets (or other marketing materials) that partner Dinobots with Autobots - even if those exact pairings do not play out in the actual film.
In addition, the rumor also suggests that while Megatron may have met his end in the Dark of the Moon finale, the character will be resurrected as Galvatron in Transformers 4. Certain versions of Galvatron exist as standalone villains but most iterations of the character have some connection to Megatron - usually as an evolved (bigger and more dangerous) version of the Decepticon leader. In the 1986 animated film, it was Unicron that built Galvatron (who retained Megatron's memories and personality) - in exchange for destroying the Autobot Matrix of Leadership.
Here's how the scene played out in the 1986 animated film (FYI: Leonard Nimoy voices Galvatron):
Unicron could be introduced as a looming threat down the line (much like Thanos in The Avengers) but it's much more likely that if Megatron/Galvatron has a role in Transformers 4, he'll be brought back to life with a new form (and different voice actor) - by using the same technology that allows Optimus Prime to reanimate the Dinobots. Perhaps a relic that once belonged to Unicron? Of course, that's entirely speculation at this point.
Last up, the JoBlo report suggests that both Hound (an Autobot scout often portrayed as a Jeep Wrangler) as well as a disgraced "samurai" Decepticon (who seeks to regain his honor by helping the Autobots) will both be added to the robot roster. No further details on either character were provided, but coupled with Dinobots and Galvatron, it certainly sounds as though Bay intends to significantly diversify the line-up this round. Despite a few slick moments, like Sideswipe splitting Sideways in two, most prior Transformers action has been fist-to-fist or blaster-to-blaster battles, the addition of a long range scout, samurai, and dinosaurs has the promise of mixing things up (not to mention sell a lot of new toys).
Still not sure how to feel about live-action Dinobots? Check out the trailer for last year's Fall of Cybertron video game to get a taste of how cool Grimlock and his team could look on the big screen:
Transformers 4 hits theaters on June 27, 2014.
Follow me on Twitter @benkendrick for more on Transformers 4 as well as future movie, TV, and gaming news.