Warning: SPOILERS ahead for Transformers: The Last Knight
A familiar name popped up in Transformers: The Last Knight - just not in the way we assumed it would. In the comics lore, there is no Quintessa the Sorceress, though she shares the traits and background of several characters in Transformers history. Quintessa is a complicated figure, but considering her clear importance to the franchise going forward, it’s best we figure out who she is and why she’s doing what she’s doing. Unfortunately, we don’t have the complete truth yet, but from what we learned in The Last Knight and from the established Transformers lore spanning the comics and animated series, we have an educated guess. Quintessa is a member of the Creators who is attempting to destroy or enslave the Transformers race.
In The Last Knight, Quintessa is a spindly, vaguely organic creature that seems to have more in common with a jellyfish than a robot, and who also claims to be Optimus Prime’s creator. Given her organic features and connection to Prime, it’s like that she’s one of the Creators -the mysterious alien race that created the Transformers using the seeds we saw in Age of Extinction. The Creators have an unexplored vendetta against the Transformers.
In the comics, Optimus Prime’s creator is Alpha Trion, the semi-mystical, Merlin-esque philosopher who rebuilds Orion Pax into the great Autobot of them all. In the film, Quintessa rebuilds Optimus Prime into Nemesis Prime to do her bidding. Their similarities don’t end there. Alpha Trion also couldn’t give you a straight answer about anything, they both incredibly old and hold more information about Transformers history than they are willing to reveal.
However, the name Quintessa is the real the headline-grabber here. In the established lore, Quintessa is the home planet of the Quintessons—a cylindrical, five-faced race with tentacles similar to The Last Knight’s Quintessa’s. The Quintessons were the original inhabitants of Cybertron and were the creators of the Transformers. They built robots as a labor class and as a means of entertainment. They were cruel slave-masters, and the robots eventually rebelled, throwing the Quints off the planet. Eventually, the robots would develop tribes and a culture and the ability to transform. Then they would go to war with each other for millions of years.
The Quintessons watched from a distance as Cybertron, and the Transformers destroyed themselves over the course of the Great War. After the Quintessons had been revealed as their cruel creators, it became a three-way war for the planet, as the Quints wanted to either re-conquer the Transformers or wipe them out entirely. Toward the end of The Last Knight, Quintessa steals Merlin’s staff in a bid to use it to control Cybertron itself - the goal that the Quintessons had from the very beginning. Just as the Quintessons used the Decepticons as unwitting fools, Quintessa does the same with Megatron and his minions in The Last Knight.
Another important piece of information is Quintessa's connection to Unicron. In the comics, Unicron was the evil twin of Primus, who created the Transformers. (The Transformers have several origins depending on continuity. Sometimes it is the mystical origin involving Primus or the original Primes, and sometimes they were built by the Quintessons.) Unicron made use of heralds -creatures whom he endowed with power in return for their undying loyalty. Quintessa isn't loyal to Unicron in this film but is substantially more powerful than any regular Transformer. In the comics, Unicron turned Megatron into Galvatron and gave him an army called the Sweeps, derived from rebuilt Transformers. The movie continuity is obviously different but, like the comics’ Galvatron, Quintessa has a mixed army of rebuilt Transformers.
Quintessa’s survival is also worth considering. While the concept of sorcery is strange for a science-fiction franchise, the mysticality of characters is nothing new for the Transformers franchise. Having Quintessa survive and be able to turn herself into a human (or at least use a holomatter avatar, which the IDW Transformers have been known to employ), allows for the creation of a new type of enemy for the Autobots to fight against. At some point, the Transformers always return to segments of their past - whether it’s the returning Sentinel Prime or the Knights of Cybertron, their mysterious past creates new conflicts.
Quintessa herself has too many similarities to pre-existing characters and her in-universe connection to Optimus Prime is one that is clearly meant to be explored in greater detail. She is to be the next major villain the Transformers need to face: their creators.
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