Thirty-two years after the Transformers phenomenon was introduced, the toys-turned-cartoon-turned-comic-book-series-turned blockbuster film series is still going strong - across several entertainment mediums. Still, while Transformers animated series and toy sales are a big part of the property's bottom line, there's no question that Michael Bay's live-action film series is a significant factor in the franchise's current success. Bay's flagship sci-fi action series hasn't always won-over critics but the films have, so far, been review-resistant - connecting with filmgoers who trek to theaters for the next adventure with Optimus Prime and the heroic Autobots (joined by their human helpers).
The last installment, Transformers: Age of Extinction pulled in $1.1 billion at the global box office - proving there's plenty of enthusiasm for among filmgoers for giant CGI robots battling on the big screen. The film also laid the foundation for a Transformers shared movie universe as well as set Optimus Prime on a journey of discovery that left Bay's franchise open-ended for further evolution. Three years later, and Bay is back with the fifth Transformers (titled The Last Knight) and while select plot details are still under wraps, Paramount Pictures recently invited Screen Rant to the film's set - and have now lifted the embargo on (most of) what we saw.
NOTE: The following list contains details that have yet to be released in the Transformers: The Last Knight marketing and could be considered minor spoilers to certain readers.
The Transformers Writers Room Inspired Michael Bay to Return
It's been a running assumption among Transformers movie fans that each film would be Michael Bay's "last" installment in the series; yet, the direct has continued to come back for every subsequent chapter. With the Transformers franchise expanding out to spinoff films, which will be helmed my other filmmakers, it was assumed that Bay would step away from the series after Age of Extinction - which laid the foundation for an overarching shared universe mythology (and reset the human cast for a quasi-reboot). So why did the filmmaker return for Transformers: The Last Knight? Answer: The Transformers series writers room.
Michael Bay: The writers room was big. It was an inspiration. I think I was ready to go shoot or something in about 13 hours and I had to sit for 6 to 7 hours, I had 12 writers pitch me their 45 minute stories, and I'm sitting there and I'm concentrating, not that I'm getting bored, but my mind is also going a million miles per hour, I'm completely spacing out cause I'm trying to think "Where's the movie? What's the movie?" and they went from the beginning of time to whatever. Some really smart people came up with great ideas. Spielberg and I latched on to a couple ideas that are great for spinoffs, there's a great historical thing.
As I told Paramount, we were doing one movie, then the next movie, then the next movie, and it's hard. We need a Bible where we can start really taking what we've done. Now, they write down all that we've done and try to meld it. How do you cement into something new, so that you've got all this?
The palette on this one is the most different I've ever done. It will be the most different. The third act is spectacular looking. It's stuff that I've never done that excites me. It's stuff that's really complicated. I say: "I have no f#&%ing idea how we're going to shoot this." It's fun. That's the fun of it.
Michael Bay Was Pitched an R-Rated Bumblebee Movie
We've known for some time that one of the Transformers shared universe spinoffs would center around fan-favorite Autobot Bumblebee but details of what we're going to see and how, exactly, the film will crossover have yet to be revealed. Our set visit turned up a few new details (more on that in a bit) but we do know one idea that Michael Bay and Steven Spielberg were pitched that audiences will not get to see: an R-Rated Bumblebee film. Bay wouldn't elaborate on what the R-Rated Bumblebee film would look like - possibly because the filmmaker might want to repurpose the idea down the road with a different, less family-friendly, Autobot.
Still, Bay suggests that Hasbro would be the main hurdle for an R-Rated Transformers film to clear - given that Hasbro is pretty protective of how younger fans and parents (the ones that actually buy the toys) perceive their characters and the larger brand.
Michael Bay: There's actually one idea that would be really fun R-rated. With Bumblebee. I don’t wanna say what, but it would be really fun. It could be fun. Very Quentin [Tarantino].
Follow-Up Question: Do you think you would ever be allowed to push beyond PG-13? With Hasbro...
Bay: No, because Hasbro. I mean, you can't really.
A Few Years Have Passed: Where is Cade Now?
Where the first two Transformers films saw the government attempt to hide the Transformers and cover-up Cybertronian battles, Transformers: Dark of the Moon made the Autobots and Decepticons completely known to the world. As a result, Transformers: Age of Extinction leaned heavily on Battle of Chicago aftermath - where most humans live in fear of Transformers. Aided by Lockdown, black ops group Cemetery Wind hunted Cybertronians on Earth (both good and bad), forcing Optimus Prime and the Autobots into hiding. The Last Knight appears to continue that narrative through line: in the absence of Cemetery Wind a new paramilitary operation threatens to exterminate the Autobots - and their allies.
This is where The Last Knight begins: After saving the world from Lockdown, Cade is now a man on the run - helping to hide Autobots from potential threats (both human and Decepticon alike).
Mark Wahlberg: Cade is like a man on the run which is fun, it’s a bit of an adventure story.
Santiago Cabrera: I would say at least a few years have passed and [Transformers are] everywhere and it’s just mayhem now. So a special task force was created, a kind of a worldwide team, where I’m a specific team leader that’s kind of in charge. I’ve got drones and I go out to the junkyard where we believe Cade Yeager is hiding some robots.
The Last Knight Will Explain The Absence of Nicola Peltz
While Sam Witwicky (Shia LaBeouf) was a fun way into the first Transformers story (an exaggerated tale of a boy and his first car), the High School senior-turned-world saving hero, became increasingly tough to include in the series. In order to free the film series up and focus on the Autobots, not the humans, Bay sidelined Witwicky for Transformers 4 in favor of a new batch of human heroes: single father/inventor Cade Yeager and his teenage daughter, Tessa (Nicola Peltz). Rescuing Tessa was a major part of the film's second act, and a key motivation for Cade to become a full-on action hero.
Yet, Tessa (and actress Nicola Peltz) are nowhere to be found in the film's marketing. According to Wahlberg, the film will explain why Tessa isn't in the picture; though fans probably shouldn't expect much more than a passing line of exposition.
Follow-Up Question: What happened to his daughter?
Mark Wahlberg: You’ll find out in the movie. They wanted it to make sense that I was older, a little slower. But yeah, you meet up with Cade now and he’s living elsewhere and he’s basically had to go on his own on the run, which is one of the reasons why, to protect his daughter and make sure that she is no longer hunted in the way that Cade is.
Laura Haddock Plays Vivian Cremley
In addition to explosive action and slick CGI robots, each Transformers film installment has also included a smart, beautiful, and capable female lead. In Transformers and Revenge of the Fallen, Meghan Fox played Mikaela Banes, Dark of the Moon included Rosie Huntington-Whiteley as Carly Spencer, and Age of Extinction featured Nicola Peltz as Tessa Yeager. For The Last Knight, Bay cast Laura Haddock (best know for her role in Da Vinci's Demons and a brief appearance as Star-Lord's mother in Guardians of the Galaxy), who portrays Vivian Cremley - a character that Cade and the Autobots pick up in their latest quest to save the Earth.
Transformers: The Last Knight producers aren't ready to reveal exactly why Vivian is an instrumental part of Cade's plan but she wouldn't be the first Transformers movie hero to be plucked out of ordinary life and tasked with saving the world (we're looking at you Witwicky). It remains to be seen if Vivian is an ally for this movie alone or a new star that will appear in the series going forward - possibly as a love interest for Cade (given that Haddock suggests the pair share a playful love/hate relationship).
Laura Haddock: From my point of view I am picked up from my family home [and taken] to Cade Yeager. Cade and Vivian have good banter. They don’t understand each other at all in the beginning, mainly because he’s American and she’s English, and mainly don’t get each other. But then they end up going on this massive journey together, needing each other, and they see a different side to each other.
The Transformers Writers Room Is Using Comics & Cartoon Mythology
In spite of groundbreaking action and CGI spectacle, longtime fans of the Transformers animated series and comics have routinely criticized Michael Bay's live-action series for not taking advantage of the franchise's deep mythology. The Transformers film story has offered some fun ideas (especially where the Transformers mythology could be tethered to real-life history) but has rarely been celebrated as a strong point in the series - especially considering the second installment was a flagship victim of the 2007 WGA writers strike. However, in spite of how detractors might feel, Bay and the Transformers production team understand there's room for improvement, especially as they endeavor to build-out spinoffs and plan for future installments in the main story. To that end, the writers room took a "deep dive" into numerous Transformers stories across a range of mediums for inspiration and ideas - most notably: the animated series and comic book runs.
Question: With that mythology you're talking about, doing the deep dive, is that primarily from the cartoon, or did that include the comic adaptations?
Lorenzo Di Bonaventura: It's both. Hasbro put together sort of a bible of all the mythologies that have been put forward, and they put it into one thing, and some of the comic book doesn't fit exactly with the TV shows and the movies. So there were a few rough edges we had to round off but now with a fifth movie coming, there's a lot of mythology that we've established as well. So, what we did was really built all three of the things into one very large document - one very large world.
The Last Knight Mystery Doesn’t Require Prior Knowledge of the Films
The Transformers films have never required a particularly deep understanding of prior movies or the original Transformers animated series. Certain storylines carry through each installment but, for the most part, each Transformers film can stand on its own. Still, just as Age of Extinction cleaned house and set a new course for the series, The Last Knight will provide new or returning viewers an accessible entry point into the franchise.
In short: The Last Knight will build-on what has already been established, and feature plenty of fun nods for die hard fans, but focus primarily on the "mystery" at hand - a mystery the filmmakers promise will flesh-out their Transformers series world in satisfying ways.
Lorenzo di Bonaventura: The opening of the film will introduce the exploration of the mythology that we're going to do. Therefore, it's not necessary to have seen the films before, because it's going to establish - let's call it the mystery of the movie, and the direction the movie is going to go in. That was a very conscious attempt, because that's the other thing you forget as a filmmaker. Not everybody, you kind of feel like everybody's seen it, so they can come right along for the ride. So the opening sequence, which is probably ten pages, sets the mystery of this movie. If you've never seen another Transformers movie, you don't need to.
I think what will locate the audience is the sort of two parallel stories that are leading to the same place, all surrounding one mythology. So I think in that way, we are very grounded. It feels like a Michael Bay Transformers movie to me, which is great. And there's some additional ideas and things that are able to give us a more fleshed-out world.
Transformers Writers Room Has Outlines for 6 & 7
In addition to a Bumblebee spinoff film, Paramount Pictures already has plans in place for Transformers 6 and 7 - with Part 6 tentatively scheduled to open in 2019. Initially, it was unclear whether the studio was actively in development on those films (considering that they're actively building a shared film universe) - or simply locking in a tentative production schedule that could shift later on. Unsurprisingly, the truth is somewhere in between. Producer Lorenzo di Bonaventura suggests that each Transformers film evolves during production, and slight changes to The Last Knight during filming could impact what happens in Part 6. The flexibility requires the studio to take each Transformers film one at a time - especially now that a writers group has been formed to build a cohesive mythology; still, the filmmakers do have a rough idea of where they're headed in future installments.
In fact, they have outlines for Part 6 and 7.
Lorenzo di Bonaventura: We have outlines [for Transformers 6 and 7]. We did not want to rush to start those scripts, because we felt like - and it turns out we were right - that this one was going to evolve. So we would have had a script that wouldn't have related to where we've evolved to. That's probably the next conversation that's going to come up, is OK, now that we really know where we're headed and how we're headed, what does the tone of it feel like? You discover things along the way. I find what's so much fun about making any film is ideas you had that you thought were great don't turn out so great, and ideas you were like "Eh, it's pretty good," turn out really great. You're like, "How did that happen?"
I think we have enough now under our belt to make that judgement. And we also designed the room so that we can do standalone movies. That's always hard - to step away from an established sequence and go, "You know what? We're just going to do a standalone movie!"' In that sense, we're still digesting that process.
Steve Jablonsky Will Start Scoring The Film Soon
Each Transformers movie has featured licensed music, including "What I've Done", "New Divide", and "Iridescent" by Linkin Park as well as "Battle Cry" by Imagine Dragons - along with a score composed by frequent Michael Bay collaborator Steve Jablonsky. On The Last Knight set, Bay was tight-lipped on what artist he will use for the film's licensed "theme" song but did confirm that Jablonsky was returning to score his fifth Transformers film and that the composer would be starting "pretty soon."
Bay also teased "other ideas" but did not elaborate - so it remains unclear, for now, if the filmmaker is insinuating they have ideas for licensed album tracks or if the score itself could be more than an orchestra piece. After all, a collaboration between Jablonsky and another artist (similar to Hans Zimmer and Junkie XL's team-up for Batman V Superman) would help keep the original composer and orchestra involved but would also provide room for new ideas and soundscapes.
Michael Bay: I know I want an orchestra. I’ve got Steve Jablonsky that’s going to be working on it. We’ve got some other ideas that we’re working on. He’s gonna start pretty soon.
Transformers: The Last Knight Contains 2 or 3 Direct Connections to Spinoff Films
Even though shared movie universes have become synonymous with blockbuster filmmaking and record-breaking Hollywood profits, complex interconnected film stories also have drawbacks. Both Marvel and DC have struggled to find the right balance between universe building and standalone storytelling - a balance the Transformers filmmakers intend to navigate carefully.
Speaking on set, producer Lorenzo di Bonaventura made it clear Paramount Pictures understands that viewers want to see connections in a shared universe but also recognizes that trying to pack-in too much setup can be detrimental to the current film experience.
Question: Are there direct connections to the Bumblebee spin-off in this movie and does Transformers 5 set future films up?
Lorenzo di Bonaventura: Sometimes is the answer. It's not always, because I think then it feels like you're really trying to widget it all together, and it becomes a little too neat. But I think, I don't think, I know - some of the things will have a very direct relationship. You'll see some things in here that are laying a pipe. You won't necessarily know that it's laying a pipe for another movie, but it is there.
There's probably, in a really meaningful way, two or three things in this movie that really have a meaningful aspect, and then there's a bunch of little things. But we're not making this movie to set up the other movies. That's what I'm trying to say. If you get too carried away with that, you stop thinking about this movie.
And this movie, the two lines of mythology give you freedom to go a lot of different places later on that may or may not directly relate to another movie, but it's opening up the universe in a way that's probably the most provocative, in terms of the movie. It's opening a really large universe of what Transformers is, and where they've come from, and how we relate to them, and how they relate to themselves.
Izabella & Sqweeks Are Battle of Chicago Survivors
It was previously revealed that newcomer to the series Isabela Moner would portray a street-savvy loner, Izabella, who befriends a new Autobot named Sqweeks; however, we now understand better exactly how the two became paired-up: they both survived the Battle of Chicago. During the fight, in which Sentinel Prime and Megatron attempted to bring Cybertron to Earth, Izabella's family was killed and Sqweeks was damaged beyond repair and left unable to transform.
In the time since, Izabella has tended to Sqweeks - keeping the mini-Autobot running. Moner implies that Izabella has spent time with other Autobots as well; though, it is unclear exactly how gets roped in with Cade and Optimus Prime.
Isabela Moner: My character Izabella - a coincidence, we have the same name spelled a little differently - she’s a tomboy, she’s spunky, she’s homeless and she joins Mark and the team in defeating the Deceptions. She was actually involved in the battle of Chicago, her family. From that stems dark memories and the reason why she’s been living there and then joins Mark.
She also has her own little sidekick named Sqweeks, who is a mini-Transformer Vespa, super cute. He says “Chihuahua”, that’s the only thing he says. He’s like my lifelong friend ever since the Battle of Chicago. He got a little bit messed up so he can’t transform fully. He’s getting there; Izabella is trying to fix him.
My character is also a welder. She fixes things. She’s known for fixing things. And she knows a lot about Transformers because she’s lived with them after she lost her family in Chicago.
Grimlock Is Back (and Will Be a ‘Naughty Dog')
One of the standout moments in Transformers: Age of Extinction, and a major focus of the film's marketing, was the introduction of Dinobots into the live-action series. Unfortunately, the film didn't get much time to actually explore the ancient warriors, their backstory, or their individual personalities - since they spent the majority of the film as prisoners on Lockdown's ship. Aside from a brief scene where Optimus and Grimlock battle for dominance and then team-up to destroy Decepticons, most viewers felt Grimlock and the Dinobots were underused.
Fortunately, fans weren't alone in wanting to see more of the Dinobots - and producer Lorenzo di Bonaventura suggests that, in The Last Knight, viewers will get a bit more of the primitive bots. The producer made special mention of Grimlock - who he claims will showcase more personality and be the "naughty dog" of the Autobots (a caricaturization that should please longtime fans).
Lorenzo di Bonaventura: You're going to see Grimlock again. So that, to me, is one of the characters in the last movie that didn't get enough screen time. He has a personality this time, for sure. A little more personality. Everybody wanted to see more Dinobots, including ourselves. We all wished we could have found a way in Age of Extinction's story to include them more. So that was one of the hopes/priorities going into this, was to try to find a way to bring them back into the stories.
There are a few others, but I like Grimlock the most. He's funny. He's like a naughty dog in this movie. He's really sheepish when he does something wrong. He's a great character. We're bringing out a side of him that you're going to like - you're going to relate to.
Optimus Prime Questions Whether He is Fit to Lead
Bumblebee was the first Autobot live-action movie viewers met but, with each subsequent installment, Optimus Prime has taken center stage in the series. The Autobot leader has been through a lot over the course of the series: arriving on Earth, sacrificing his life to protect his friends (then being resurrected), only to be betrayed by his mentor, hunted by humans, and leaving Earth in search of information about Cybertron's origins. Still, in spite of all his hardship and victories, Optimus has remained largely the same: a wise, selfless, and brave war hero (as well as franchise film star).
Yet, with Hot Rod introduced in this movie, a character that has (in other versions) become Optimus Prime's successor, aka Rodimus Prime, fans are already speculating on the possibility that The Last Knight could be the final time we see Optimus lead the Autobots into battle. While, that speculation may be overblown, The Last Knight filmmakers did suggest that Optimus is faced with tough questions about his own role with the Autobots - providing the iconic hero an opportunity to grow as a character.
Lorenzo di Bonaventura: One of the interesting things is we question whether Optimus would be the leader [in future films]. On that level, we're already taking a step in that direction. It's sort of like doing a Batman movie without Batman. I find it hard to see him not being a player in it. Does he have to be the central leader player? No, he doesn't have to be. He doesn't have to be, and in this movie, we question it, and he questions it.
Sqweeks Cannot Transform
It's exciting to see fresh designs for returning heroes in the Transformers films series but, often, it's the new additions that become a major point of pre-release buzz and speculation. Where the addition of Hot Rod could have massive implications on where Paramount Pictures might take the Autobots in future installments, it's also fun to see what entirely new characters the studio cooks-up for each installment. While Paramount Pictures has yet to reveal every robot hero and villain that will appear in The Last Knight, the studio has unveiled Izabella's pint-sized sidekick, Sqweeks.
As mentioned, Sqweeks was injured in the Battle of Chicago and can no longer transform into his vehicle mode, a sky blue Vespa, despite Izabella's attempts to fix him. The bot's inability to transform will be a running joke in the movie - leading to a big moment for the little bot to shine. The filmmakers wouldn't explain exactly how Sqweeks earns his place among the Autobots but Bonaventura promises Sqweeks will get one of The Last Knight's biggest "cheer laughs."
Lorenzo di Bonaventura: Sqweeks is an Autobot Vespa that can't figure out how to transform at the beginning of the movie. He has a physical limitation that he can't figure out how to get around, and during the process, we have some real fun with the sort of malaprop attempts to form. A pretty seemingly inconsequential Autobot is going to rise to a really great f$%^ing moment where it does this - it's incredibly great, from a story plot point of view, but you'll laugh so hard, because it's such a great way for him to finally show his mettle. So it's one of those sort of cheer laughs when he does it. That's what I think is going to happen.
He is sort of a side kick of Izzy, our young girl who has been really fantastic in the movie, and she's been kind of keeping him going. She's his mechanic, if you will. And so there's a real great relationship between him and the young girl in the movie. You're going to fall in love with him, and then he's going to rise to heights you didn't expect.
Isabela Moner Talked Bay Into Building a Practical Sqweeks Robot
Previously, many of the Transformers series sidekick bots, such as Wheelie and Brains, have been entirely CGI creations - animated into live-action shots in post-production. Bay had intended to use the same approach for Sqweeks - until Isabela Moner asked if they could build a practical version of the character for use on set. The model is connected to a green push cart (for easier post-production editing) but won't be used much in the final film - where the on-set bot will be replaced by Industrial Light and Magic's CGI version.
Still, while the Sqweeks bot isn't as advanced as similar creations in other franchises (most notably BB-8), the model provides helpful reference points for actors on set - as well as offered Moner a much clearer sense of what her robot buddy would look like in the real world.
Isabela Moner: He’s so cute! Originally they weren’t going to have him in person built. They were just going to have it CGI, like most things in the movie. But we were actually in Michael’s offices, and we were talking about the character. He was telling me the color; he’ll be a Vespa, super cute, small. I was like “Well, that’d be really cool if we could have him in person. Could you guys build him in person?”
They were like “That’d be really good idea to do that!”, like what they did with BB-8 in Star Wars kind of thing. It’s really cool to have it in person. It’s manually controlled. Someone stands behind him. It’s not remote controlled. But he is there, and I think it gives me a great opportunity to work with it, hug the little thing, you know?
The Last Knight Features ‘A Lot More' Full Screen IMAX
Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen is often regarded as the worst Transformers film in the series, thanks to the WGA writers strike but there is one moment that still stands out: the forest fight between Optimus Prime and Megatron. Viewers who saw Revenge of the Fallen in IMAX will remember the scene was presented in full screen picture ratio - adding scale and scope to the footage of two thirty-foot tall robots fightings on screen. Since that time, Bay has included several other full screen IMAX shots in the Transformers films - including the epic showdown between Optimus Prime and Grimlock in Age of Extinction.
On The Last Knight set, Bay suggested that the new film will feature more IMAX scenes than any Transformers film so far - thanks to advancements in camera technology and adjustments the photography unit is making. Bay concedes he won't be able to keep the aspect ratio consistent throughout (an issue some viewers noticed in select Age of Extinction IMAX scenes) but The Last Knight will feature a "lot more" IMAX overall.
Michael Bay: We're going to do a lot more [full screen IMAX] in this one. It can't be consistent but we're be able to keep it big a lot. More than Transformers 2. It's because of the camera we're using and it's because we're framing wider. The Alexis 65 holds so much information. You can blow it up a little bit, fill your whole screen, with our RED as well, we can blow it up to fit the screen bigger.
Santiago Cabrera Plays TRF Team Leader Santos
After N.E.S.T. (the transformer/human task force commissioned to catch Decepticons hiding on earth) was disbanded and in the fallout from Cemetery Wind (the human black ops group that worked with Lockdown), a global alliance backed by the U.S. government was formed to hunt transformers: the TRF (Transformers Reaction Force). The TRF is a private paramilitary team ordered to kill both Autobots and Decepticons, alike. It has yet to be revealed who is behind the TRF but Santiago Cabrera (known for his work on Heroes and The Musketeers) serves as the main human antagonist in The Last Knight, a former Navy SEAL, Santos.
Unlike other humans who have seen the Autobots protect the world, Santos believes that Earth and humankind will never be safe until all Transformers are gone. According to Cabrera, Santos and his team have been pursuing Cade for a long time (hence why Cade is on the run when The Last Knight starts) and track the Autobot sympathizer to a junk yard - where the TRF believes Cade is hiding and harboring transformers.
Josh Duhamel: N.E.S.T. is not in this. There’s a different group. N.E.S.T. was a group where we worked with the Autobots. But this group, there’s a worldwide coalition to eradicate all of the Transformers. They’re all bad. And a few of us know better, but that’s it.
Santiago Cabrera: I was a SEAL but I’ve retired and I’m on contract, I’ve been hired. The TRF has been formed to fight the Transformers, so my orders are to not care if they’re Autobots of Decepticons, we gotta stop this war. I’ve come with my team to fight transformers and when I see Cade Yeager is harboring them, he becomes my enemy. It’s orders. Cabrera's sort of an antagonist at the beginning because of his orders.
I have a scrap with Bumblebee. I do alright though, I do alright. But in that respect in the beginning I’m gonna be the guy you love to hate, which is a cool part to play.
Where Was Captain Lennox in Transformers: Age of Extinction?
One of the few original (and non-robot) cast members coming back from the original trilogy to join Transformers: The Last Knight, Captain Lennox (Josh Duhamel) was nowhere to be seen in Age of Extinction - even though the world was in danger and the Autobots were under attack from Cemetery Wind. Understandably, had a veteran transformers team member like Lennox been included during Age of Extinction, the hero would have distracted from new human characters that Michael Bay was trying to introduce. Now, with a full movie and several years since Lennox was last seen, it's easier to bring the former Autobot friend back.
But where was Lennox last round? Duhamel suggests there may be no official explanation given in The Last Knight but suggests he wasn't included because there was no official military force in play. This time, he's got connections to the RTF but, before viewers assume Lennox has betrayed his former friends, Duhamel teases that who he's actually working for, and for what purpose, are all part of the The Last Knight mystery.
Josh Duhamel: The last one, to sort of justify it to myself, there was no military element. Therefore they didn’t need me. I think it was probably they just didn’t want me. But this time there is definitely a military element here and what brings me back is, there’s a question as to who I’m working for. Am I with the US military, the Army, or am I working with a group that’s trying to eradicate all Transformers? Not just Decepticons, but all of them.
There’s a bit of a struggle between myself and Santiago Cabrera, and then we’re also working against [Mark] Wahlberg’s character in this. Because he’s definitely working with the Autobots.
Transformers: The Last Knight Features a Lot of Mythology
Given that the Transformers writers room took a "deep dive" into the source material animated series and comic books, it's no understatement to expect that The Last Knight is positioned to include the most mythology and world-building of any Transformers film thus far. Generation 1 Transformer die-hards should temper their expectations, given that The Last Knight (not to mention future series installments) need to be approachable for casual moviegoers, but there's reason to be optimistic that, instead of pulling in names and ideas from the Transformers toys and cartoons as mostly cosmetic details and easter eggs, the recent writers room helped Paramount Pictures understand the source mythology better - and aided them in defining parameters for their shared universe story.
The result should be a film that features a more meaningful effort to adapt fan-favorite lore - as well as build out the cinematic universe rather than jump from linear sequel ideas.
Lorenzo di Bonaventura: Our guys are going to find a whole other level of mythology that's happening on Earth. We did this writer's table a long time ago, and I think one of the great things that came out of it was - one: refreshing ourselves in the depth of the Transformers mythology, which is actually quite impressive. Two was building it out, and taking some things, the way the movie ended, you're going: it's headed in that direction.
There's a lot of the mythology that was sort of that way too, where we were sitting around going, where is the logical place for this to head? You're going to get two pieces of the mythology that converge at the end. That's the driving part of it - of the movie.
New Villain is 'Different Form' & Will Surprise Viewers
We already know that Megatron is back for Transformers: The Last Knight but after Age of Extinction blew the mythology open to a larger conflict between Cybertronians outside of the Autobots and Decepticons, the filmmakers knew that fans would need more than a straightforward Optimus Prime versus Megatron battle for world dominance. So, while Megatron is in The Last Knight, he may not be the film's main villain.
In fact, speaking to producer Lorenzo di Bonaventura on set, it sounds as though Bay could introduce a very different threat. The producer outright states that they'll be introducing a new villain - one that takes a very different Decepticon form. Bonaventura also suggests the threat will not be immediately obvious to viewers or the Autobots - meaning that there might be more than meets the eye to one of the characters audiences meet early-on.
Lorenzo di Bonaventura: We will introduce a new villain. A surprise, I think, as you discover who the villain is. So in that respect, that is a very different kind of Decepticon form, if you would. I think that understanding of the mythology, as you begin to unveil it, you'll understand just how big the jeopardy that we're going to face is.
And we'll also, because we're going to be exploring some of the Cybertron mythology, it's going to make us understand that the jeopardy to both that world and our world are very similar.
The Cybertron Animated Movie is Not Directly Connected
In addition to live-action spinoff films and core storyline sequels, development on an animated prequel (set on Cybertron) was also announced last year. Considering that Paramount Pictures is building a shared movie universe, it would make sense for the animated project to be in-canon with the budding shared universe; yet, according to producer Lorenzo di Bonaventura, the two are not directly connected.
Bonaventura suggests that the two properties (the live-action universe and the animated prequel) will share ideas but are, for now, independent. Specifically, there was no mandate for the writers of the Cybertron animated film to write a prequel to what happens in the Transformers movies. It's possible that could change, given that they're both pulling from the same inspirations and lore, but even if a connection could be drawn, they haven't been (as of yet) developed as part of the same storyline.
Lorenzo di Bonaventura: It's in continuity with the mythology. Our deep dive into Cybertron will have some continuity to that. There is a - I won't say a relationship - but I'll say it's touching on relatively the same time period. In that sense, there's a direct relationship. We're not trying to affect the animated movie, and the animated movie is not trying to mimic or take from us.
It's just we're taking from the same general area. What the animated movie will do that is different from us is, we're dealing more with the consequences, and they're dealing a little more with the origin story, at the moment of consequence. It ends sort of at the moment where the consequences are quite easy. We're picking it up probably there. It's not quite as clean as I'm suggesting, but I hadn't really thought about it. That is probably the clearest way to delineate them.
Bumblebee Spinoff Movie is Bumblebee's Story
Once Transformers: The Last Knight has hit theaters in 2017, the Bumblebee spinoff film is scheduled to be the next live-action franchise installment, only one year later (2018). As with any in-development property, it's possible for that plan to change - should Paramount Pictures and the Transformers producers see an opportunity or reason to shift course. Right now, with Lorenzo di Bonaventura focused on completing The Last Knight, there are few concrete spinoff details to share but the producer did confirm who will be writing the film's script. Previously, it had been reported that Christina Hodson was part of the Transformers brain trust but we now know the relative newcomer is taking lead on the Bumblebee screenplay.
To make the previously announced 2018 release window (especially if the film were to take a mid-summer slot where Transformers has been successful), the Bumblebee spinoff will need to begin pre-production soon after The Last Knight wraps. That said, the solo movie is expected to be a smaller project with fewer transformers (and subsequently less CGI post-production), compared to the main installments - meaning Bumblebee could be delivered under a tighter production timeline.
Lorenzo di Bonaventura: I don't imagine a lot [of Transformers] in it. No, no. It's Bumblebee's story. I don't think you'll see a lot more in it. We'll see as it evolves bit in the script treatment form? No.
Christina Hodson is the writer. I think the Paramount release said 2018. I don't know if they put an actual date. Honestly, that release came out about 4 months ago, and all I'm trying to do is get it ready as soon as I can!
Honorable Mention: How to Kill a Transformer In Real Life
Ever wonder how humanity could fight back actual transformers - if they were to ever invade real-life Earth? Thanks to Transformers: The Last Knight military advisor Harry Humphries, we now have an answer!
Question: If transformers were dropping down tomorrow, what would be the most effective weapons we could bring to bear against them?
Harry Humphries: We have 40mm weapons, strategically placed they could - with explosives, you know, on the inside - they could take out a limb - a joint, if you will, not a limb - or a visual perception capability, etc. Because they are after all, what? They’re all machines, you know? So you can take a machine out. You can take a machine out with a .50 bullet because of the internals, and the electronics, and the hydraulics that go to making those things work. It’s not that they’re a flesh monster, they’re machines. So that makes them vulnerable.
Through the years, we've discovered that many other weapons can do damage to these guys. The saber round was developed right after we had the freeze guns, which was in Transformers 1. Freeze guns made sense around the writers’ table: the only way to stop these things is to freeze them. So that didn’t work for us as well as maybe, just trying to find some legitimate ordinance. And a saber round is basically a round that’s fired from a cannon, out of a tank. It’s an oversized jacket that fits around a bullet and when it blows out of the gun, the jacket falls off and now you’ve got this bullet that continues its path.
And that was a thought that the army came up with, “Let’s try saber rounds.” Okay, saber rounds it was. So we realized that, you know what, these other guns work too. And after all a saber round is a bullet. It’s a big bullet but it’s a bullet. So we’ve resolved to making it as large a caliber legitimate weapon as possible and it makes a lot of sense.
Transformers: The Last Knight opens in U.S. theaters on June 23, 2017, followed by the Bumblebee spin-off on June 8, 2018, and Transformers 6 on June 28, 2019.
- Transformers 5/Transformers: The Last Knight (2017) release date: Jun 21, 2017