One day the Transformers franchise will be a fully automated process, involving little to no human intervention to keep cranking out one film about giant, combative robots after another. Until then, screenwriter Akiva Goldsman wants to make sure the movies retain a human element, even in the face of an ever-expanding shared universe.
That expanding universe is part of what brought Goldsman on board, along with fellow writers Robert Kirkman and former Daredevil showrunner Steven DeKnight. As studios increasingly shift into following Marvel's billion-dollar shared universe formula, the idea of creating franchises within a franchise seems tentatively applicable to almost any property, but especially those with a few billion-dollar entries of their own.
In a recent interview with IGN, Goldsman offered a few insights into his take on approaching the Transformers films. Chief among those insights was his feeling that each film should work both as a standalone film and as part of the larger, interconnected universe being planned for the films.
"Our hope is that they are all interconnected and of course standalone, right? I think architecturally, the best -- I think I believe this -- the best serialized storytelling has integrity from start to finish of the episode, whether it be TV or a movie or comic book or novel series or short story series. You want to be able to satisfy both appetites -- which I think is very different from procedural or episodic. You want to feed the instinct for the short-term gratification and the longterm gratification. So we're trying to do both."
Goldsman's idea here really isn't any different from what other studios, like Marvel and Warner Bros., are attempting with their superhero properties. Though he makes a good point that each individual film should strive to tell a complete story from start to finish, and not simply feel like it's pushing fans toward what is coming next.
The Academy Award-winning writer also made some observations about a particular challenge unique to the Transformers universe, in particular. That is, he doesn't want to lose sight of the human element of the series.
"Do I think Transformers can live without humans? Sure. Do I think humans can live without Transformers? Sure. InTransformers movies? Sure! But, fundamentally, there seems to be something really great about the interaction between the two species. I think that, in the main, I would suggest that that would be something you wouldn't want to squander. Although that doesn't mean that you couldn't do all sorts of things for a little while."
Although he doesn't necessarily offer any firm insight into what the Transformers shared universe will look like, or where the series is headed with its upcoming fifth installment, it's good to see that Goldsman has some ideas for the franchise. What's more, he also confirmed that there will be an animated prequel set on Cybertron, a development we've previously reported on.
There are certainly reasons to be skeptical of the future of the Transformers movies. Let's face it, despite all the money they rake in, they are far from critically beloved. Still, for many, they offer a fun escape from everyday, non-explodey things, and there's some value to that. Will audiences keep showing up for the movies when they have to keep track of plot developments from other sequels and spinoffs in the franchise? If Goldsman has his way, that won't be an issue. And best of all, we'll still have guys like Mark Wahlberg showing up to keep it real. Relatively speaking.
Transformers 5 is tentatively expected to reach theaters in 2017, with more films to follow.