WARNING: This article contains SPOILERS for Transformers: The Last Knight
It may push the limits of re-writing human history for fun, but Transformers: The Last Knight digs into the core mythology of the Transformers universe for its villain - and judging by the final scene, may continue to do the same into Transformers 6 and beyond. It's a scene played for much more than laughs, revealing that this film's villain - and the larger history she hails from, across the galaxy - is only getting started.
The Transformers series has taught its audience to remain in their seats through the credits so far. The first film featured the parents of hero Sam Witwicky giving an interview to a local news team about their run-in with Transformers, and concluded with Starscream heading into space to hatch some means of revenge for the Decepticons' defeat. In the sequel Revenge of the Fallen Sam has a fond farewell with his leading lady, and takes some abuse from one of his professors. Dark of the Moon is another comedic beat between actors John Turturro and Frances McDormand, and the most recent entry, Age of Extinction made history by lacking one altogether.
Since the previous film let the story itself stand alone, fans would be right to expect the same, especially with the word that Transformers 5 will be Michael Bay's last, and star Mark Wahlberg will likely leave alongside him. Given those impending departures, it's no surprise that the bulk of The Last Knight drives home lead Cade Yeager's (Wahlberg) strength of character and heroism. And it wraps up its core conflict quite well, with the heroes foiling the villainess Quintessa's plan for Earth's destruction. Had the story come to a close and left the future of the franchise up to a new wave of creators, few would have raised an eyebrow.
But the reality of shared universes changes those priorities - or missed opportunities - significantly. Fans know that Transformers 5 will launch a number of spinoffs and sequels, with the return of Bumblebee's voice arriving just in time to star in his 1980s-set Bumblebee spinoff movie. And regardless of who picks up the main franchise once Michael Bay has stepped aside, they may have their next film planned out for them already.
At least that's what is strongly suggested by Transformers: The Last Knight's post-credits scene, featuring a returning villain with brand new abilities.
What Was Quintessa's Plan For Earth?
As a quick summary for those merely after robot carnage delivered with Bay's signature flair, the plan hatched by the villain Quintessa is sort of torn from previous Transformers lore, and... sort of not. While Unicron was the primary antagonist in The Transformers: The Movie (1986), set on planetary destruction, it has a different fate here. The race called Quintessons created the Transformers in the original lore, but it remains to be seen if the movie universe is adopting as simple an origin, as well. The Last Knight picks and chooses how to adapt those elements this time around. In short: the planet Earth is Unicron in this version, a massive Transformer that contains enough energy to effectively resurrect the planet Cybertron.
From there the story spins across a number of locations and characters, revealing that the Excalibur sword was actually a Transformer talisman, Merlin's staff was a Cybertronian device with the power to unlock the aforementioned energy transfer, and much, much more. Cybertron's entry into Earth's orbit is devastating, but it's the appearance of six Cybertronian... horns from the Earth's surface that take the spotlight. Originally they had created a tighter circle around Stonehenge when Earth had a single continent, but the shifting of tectonic plates gives Earth a half dozen scattered accessories. Accessories that remain even after Megatron and Quintessa have been defeated, the staff and talisman protected, and global destruction averted.
... Until that post-credits sequence, of course.
The Post-Credits Scene: Quintessa LIVES!
While it doesn't technically come after all of the credits, but partway through them, the extra scene tacked onto the film raises questions about just how effective our heroes really were. In the scene, Earth's scientists have taken to studying the massive Cybertronian structures that burst forth from the planet's surface (at least at one of the sites, anyway). It's then that a traveler emerges into the desert setting, dressed in blue, and looking anything but threatening. Since Quintessa (Gemma Chan) was merely defeated and knocked out of the final act's battle, fans - and the heroes - should have expected to see her return. Still, her return is sooner than expected: the woman in human form is Quintessa, as a shimmer across her face shows that she is merely capable of taking a human form. And in this form, she informs the scientists that she has the knowledge they need to destroy this new affliction on their planet.
The affliction was the result of her own scheming, and as far as we know in the film, these horns of Earth's true Unicron/Transformer identity are harmless with the energy transfer to Cybertron foiled. The implication is that Quintessa has another trick up her sleeve - especially with the Transformer heroes devoting their time to Cybertron. If she's no longer able to resurrect Cybertron, it's any fan's guess what her next step will be... but all things considered, not much is actually known about Quintessa at all. She may claim to be one of the Transformers' 'Creators,' but if her villainy extends beyond saving Cybertron, then perhaps a hate for humanity, fueled by this defeat is her real motivation now.
So, will the next chapter in the Transformers series pick up right where this film left off, heroes one step behind Quintessa yet again? Or is this post-credits scene a tease on the surface only? Should the fan really expect to see Quintessa star as the main antagonist in not one, but two Transformers movies? Or is the beatdown she takes from Bumblebee a sign that their duel may stretch to his own series?
- Transformers 5/Transformers: The Last Knight (2017) release date: Jun 21, 2017
- Bumblebee (2018) release date: Dec 21, 2018