Next summer’s release of Transformers: The Last Knight will mark 10 years since Michael Bay and Paramount Pictures brought Hasbro’s classic robots in disguise to life with the first live action Transformers film. Since then, the director and the producers of the franchise have shown no signs of slowing down in their quest to create a shared universe of Transformer properties. The team has not only mapped out the next two films in the series, but they’ve also started work on a number of spinoffs featuring characters both old and new.
The past year has seen a number of set videos and photos show off the new characters and locations of The Last Knight, but yesterday we finally got the first teaser trailer for the next entry in the blockbuster franchise. While light on story details, it nevertheless provided us with plenty of explosive action, breathtaking visuals, and more than a few questions.
21. Do You Realize?
The current trend in blockbuster movie trailers seems to be moody covers (see the Power Rangers trailer for a recent example), and the teaser for Transformers: The Last Knight is no different. Set to a vocoder and piano rendition of “Do You Realize?” by the Flaming Lips, the haunting atmosphere comes courtesy of artist Ursine Vulpine. Better known as film composer and director Frederick Lloyd, he’s not the only prestigious musician lending soundscapes to the new film.
We previously learned that Stephen Jablonksy, the man behind every Transformers score to date, would be returning for the fifth film in the franchise. Known for his sweeping epics, it’ll be interesting to see if the tone established in the trailer by Lloyd’s song will factor into Jablonky’s work at all. Given some of the film’s tones and themes, we wouldn’t be surprised if there was a good bit of introspection between all of the explosions.
20. Total Bayhem!
Ever since Transformers: Dark of the Moon finished, franchise director Michael Bay has been publicly toying with the idea of whether or not he'll continue on as the principal helmer of the series. Even after he returned for 2014’s Transformers: Age of Extinction, it was unknown whether the film would be his last. Since then, the producers of the franchise have assembled a prestigious writer's room featuring Daredevil’s Season 1 showrunner Steven DeKnight, The Walking Dead creator Robert Kirkman, and LOST alumni Jeff Pinkner and Akiva Goldsman (the latter of whom wrote the story for The Last Knight).
During our set visit for the new film, we learned that Bay was so impressed by the ideas the team was coming up with, he decided to jump back in for at least one more film. “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.”
The results saw writer's room members Art Marcum and Matt Holloway, the duo behind Iron Man, join up with Black Hawk Down scribe Ken Nolan to pen the screenplay based off of Goldsman’s treatment. All of this under the watchful eye of series producer Steven Spielberg, and the mind boggles imagining what they’ve all got in store for us.
19. A Robot In King Arthur’s Court
Thanks to set photos, promo posters, and the title of the film itself, it’s long been known that Transformers: The Last Knight would see the Autobots and Decepticons interacting with the characters of King Arthur’s court. We already know that Liam Garrigan from Once Upon A Time will be playing Arthur (the same role he has on the show), but thanks to the trailer, we’ve got an idea of how some of those scenes will unfold.
Far from being the film’s only location, Camelot looks to figure quite heavily into a number of action scenes in the film. It’s hard not to get visions of the Battle of the Bastards from Game of Thrones as the Knights of the Roundtable charge into battle. What’s still unknown, of course, is how the medieval warriors plan to hold their own against massive robots, but perhaps the Autobots will lend some tech to the ancient heroes.
18. Transformers vs Nazis
Michael Bay and company got in some hot water awhile back when they decided to drape Nazi flags over Winston Churchill’s birthplace. Historical tact aside, the incident tipped us off to the fact that the fictional England of King Arthur’s time wouldn’t be the only period in the past the Transformers would be visiting. In the trailer, we get to see the very building in question, and its placement following the medieval scenes gives us some hints as to the scope of the new film.
While films like Captain America: The First Avenger and the Amazon series The Man in the High Castle have given us glimpses of alternate realities involving the Nazis, it’ll be interesting to see how both the Axis and Allied powers react to the presence of the Autobots and Decepticons. Though more advanced than Arthur’s knights, it’s still hard to imagine World War II weapons posing much of a threat against the Cybertronians. We could, however, see the forces on both sides lend each other help. It’s also possible that the Reich’s obsession with the occult and scientific experimentation could see them unearthing some ancient connections between the Transformers and humankind.
17. Transformers Through The Ages: Flesh vs Metal
During our recent set visit, franchise producer Lorenzo di Bonaventura teased the idea that some of the future Transformers spinoffs could take place in different time periods. Giving the possibility of ancient Rome as an example, Bonaventura highlighted the team’s commitment to fleshing out the lore of the Autobots and Decepticons over the course of human history. We don’t yet know, however, whether the various historical locations of the new film will involve time travel or simply connect to the idea teased in the trailer that Cybertronians and Earthlings have a long, shared history.
Either way, it seems the ideas flowing around the writer's room sparked something in the team behind Transformers, as they seem dead set on exploring the full history of the Cybertronians from every angle. Bay hinted at as much during the set visit: “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.”
We’ve seen how the humans in the first film were barely equipped to go toe-to-toe with the mechanized behemoths, so it’ll be interesting to explore an alternate history of Earth where humans come into regular contact (and likely conflict) with the Transformers.
16. Sir Anthony Hopkins - Who Is He and Why Does He Know So Much?
Though we only get brief glimpses of Sir Anthony Hopkins in the film, his character kindly narrates the trailer for us. Thanks to his words and the shots of him in a room full of relics, it’s clear that he has a large role in the film. The Transformers series has never had a problem getting top-tier actors to join the franchise, with Stanley Tucci, John Goodman, and John Turturro all set to reprise their previous roles in the franchise for The Last Knight, but a get like Hopkins only comes if the character he's playing is sizable.
Thanks to some shots of various ancient swords and crosses, and given the subject matter of the film, it’s likely that Hopkins is connected to the Knights Templar. A Middle Age’s religious organization with links to the more modern Freemasons, the Knights Templar prominently feature in a number of conspiracy theories about secret societies. Their supposed exploits and influence have given them roles in Assassin's Creed, The DaVinci Code, National Treasure, and even Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. The Transformers franchise seems to be following their lead, and using Hopkins’ professor character to further tease out the mysterious connection between Earth and Cybertron.
Whatever is brewing in the past, the Earth of the present looks to be under siege in the trailer for The Last Knight. With so many threats, and Michael Bay behind the camera, it’s no surprise that even this brief glimpse of the movie features tons of destruction and chaos. There’s soldiers (likely on both sides of the conflict), robot-on-robot action, and a whole lot of collateral damage. We even get what looks to be the death (or at least dismemberment) of an Autobot around the 0:38 mark.
Further evidence of the coming war is the new blockbuster movie shorthand for bedlam: a destroyed stadium. We saw this used to great effect in both The Dark Knight Rises and X-Men: Days of Future Past, with both stadium-wrecking scenes featuring prominently in the trailers for the films. In this trailer, we see a group of kids walking around the assaulted arena and passing by all sorts of debris—including what looks to be a jet engine. Each subsequent film seems to amp up the threats our heroes face, so it’ll be interesting to see how the rest of the world and its ordinary citizens react to all these robotic rampages.
14. Mini AT-ST
At 1:30, we get our first look at some of the non-Decepticon antagonists the Autobots will be squaring off against. Looking like a mixture between an AT-ST from Star Wars and a mouser from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, the tank with legs looks to be no friend of Bumblebee’s. In the ruins of a bunch of buildings, the two go at it, with Bumblebee mounting the unknown robot’s back and raining hell down on it.
Its design seems to indicate a military origin, meaning it’s likely connected to the all-new Transformers Reaction Force (more on them later). With all the destruction and chaos mentioned above, it’s no wonder that some government force decided the Transformers needed to be countered. Though we’ve just seen one of these mini tanks, there’s likely plenty left to come. Hopefully, they’ll figure out who their true enemy is before the film is over and join the side of the Autobots.
13. Optimus In Space
One of the most dramatic scenes in the trailer is the sight of Optimus Prime’s lifeless body floating through space. Not only is there no light in his eyes, but he seems to be sporting some serious damage and decay on his hard hide. There’s no telling where in the film this takes place, but it’s definitely not a good sign. As the leader of the Autobots and the face of the Transformers franchise, the permanent destruction of Optimus Prime is highly unlikely. Still, any amount of time he’s absent is sure to be bad news for the remaining forces of good on Earth.
The more unnerving question is, what could do this to Prime? There’s all sorts of new villains, mysteries, and Earth-shattering developments teased in the trailer for the new movie, and any one of them could be the powerful force or event that leads to Optimus becoming decommissioned and launched into space. A cooler alternative, of course, would be that Optimus is fighting in space when he suffers this great loss, as he certainly isn’t alone out in the vastness beyond our atmosphere.
12. Underwater World
Like the trailer for Dark of the Moon, the teaser for The Last Knight shows humans exploring a sprawling synthetic structure. Instead of resting on Earth’s satellite, however, this cavernous discovery is deep under the ocean. We see a couple of other shots in the trailer were huge pieces of tech have landed on Earth, so this could be something that falls from the sky. Given the untold devastation something that large falling from space would create, though, it’s more likely that it’s a ship which landed in the ocean on purpose. This could occur in the film, but we’ve got a feeling that the Cybertronian Atlantis will actually be another piece in the puzzle that is the film’s plot.
We know that long before the first film, Transformers of all shades visited Earth. With The Last Knight exploring every aspect of that connection, this underwater structure is probably a newly unearthed link in that mysterious chain. Either way, the sequence is sure to look incredible in IMAX.
11. Bumblebee Is Back!
Did you ever doubt it? Since the very first Transformers, Bumblebee has served as the Pikachu of the franchise. Not only is he a blast to be around and great in a fight, but he usually serves as the connection between the human characters and the Autobots. The symbiotic relationship between Cybertronians and Terrans is a core part of the entire Transformers legacy, from the cartoons to the comics, so it’s no surprise that the films would also feature a flagship character who has a special bond with us squishy mortals.
In fact, Bumblebee has proven to be so popular, a number of the ideas flying out of the writer’s room are about him. We already know that 2018 will see the release of a Bumblebee spinoff film, so it’ll be interesting to watch how this movie affects the character and where he ends up. It could be a much darker place, as Michael Bay recently revealed he was pitched a bloody R-Rated Bumblebee solo movie. While Hasbro and the family-focused franchise are unlikely to take that route, the producers seem keen on following the Star Wars model and shining a light on some of their more popular characters.
10. The Autobots Get A Lambo
With a series of movies as expensive as the Transformers franchise, any extra funding you can get is always welcome. Luckily, the premise of the films provides a massive opportunity for product placement from some of the world’s biggest luxury products: sports cars. Age of Extinction brought us our first Lambo-based Transformer as the villainous Lockdown took the form of a black Lamborghini Aventador to hit the streets versus the Autobots. Not keen to let the baddies have all the fun, our heroes are introducing their own version of the popular sports car with new addition Hot Rod.
Back in August, we got our first look at the robot mode of Hot Rod, who’s described as a brother-in-arms with Bumblebee. At 1:47 in the trailer, we get an oh-so-brief glimpse of the character in action as a Lamborghini Centenario. Said to be overprotective of his friend and very hot-headed (hence the name), it’s going to be a lot of fun seeing the two speedsters team up on the road and in battle.
9. IMAX-Friendly Visuals
It’s no secret that Michael Bay loves IMAX, and considering the ticket sales generated by the Transformers franchise, IMAX surely loves Bay. It’s not hard to see why the director is so keen on the film format. Given the scope of his movies, which involve massive, sweeping shots and more explosions than you can count, IMAX is the best visual and audio setting for his style of blockbuster filmmaking. On top of that, the subject matter of the Transformers movies involves gigantic robots, so the bigger the screen, the better.
All throughout the trailer, we see a number of wide shots and humongous set pieces. Though a number are likely CGI, it still gives us an idea of the breadth of the film. Utilizing both the Alexis 65 3D and powerhouse RED cameras, Bay discussed the use of a ton of full screen IMAX footage for this film when we caught up with him during our set visit. With what we’ve seen in the trailer, IMAX 3D will absolutely be the way to experience this film.
8. Here Be Dragons
Transformers: The Last Knight really is pulling out all the stops. While a billboard earlier this year teased a confrontation between Optimus Prime and a three-headed dragon, one of the Arthurian shots of the film shows the beast in all its glory. Clearly a Transformer, the Hydra-like flying reptile swoops over an idyllic cliffside as a knight rides by on a horse. The last Transformers film, Age of Extinction, introduced the Dinobots into the mythos of the movies (who will return in this film), so dragons were only ever just around the corner.
As to the identity of the coolest new character? There’s two leading candidates. One is the Decepticon Scourge. Rather than the original Scourge, who was an agent of Galvatron, the Scourge from Cybertron just happened to turn into a three-headed dragon. Given the similarities, it’s hard to imagine this character is anyone else, but there’s one more possibility.
The descendant of the original Megatron (also called Megatron) in the Beast Wars animated series of the ‘90s gained a dragon animal form in one of his later iterations. Could the inclusion of the dragon in the trailer hint at a similar transformation for the movie’s villain?
7. The Transformers Reaction Force
As mentioned earlier, that walking mini tank just screams “military backing.” Enter, the Transformers Reaction Force, aka TRF (they should talk to S.H.I.E.L.D. about getting themselves a cooler acronym). Akin to controversial paramilitary group Blackwater, the TRF is government-backed and designed to face the threats posed by the Transformers. Setting their sights on heroes and villains alike, the TRF allows our protagonists to face off against a human threat along with all of those killer robots.
Santiago Cabrera will be playing new addition Santos, the leader of the group. Though he’s just joining the franchise, his backstory connects him to the awesomely named “Cemetery Wind” battalion from Age of Extinction. Like the government operatives from that movie, the TRF have a bone to pick with Mark Wahlberg’s Cade Yeager. When we visited the set recently, Cabrera spoke a bit about the two characters coming to blows: “My backstory would be that 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 I don’t care if they’re Autobots or Decepticons we gotta stop this war. So I’m a team leader and I’ve come with my team to fight them and what I find and when I see Cade Yeager is harboring them he becomes the enemy basically.”
The interview also mentions that Santos gets in a fight with Bumblebee, so we’ll see how that goes for the guy.
6. The Return Of Lennox
With Transformers: Age of Extinction being something of a soft reboot for the franchise, many fans have been left wondering whether any of the beloved characters from the first three films would be returning. As we mentioned above, a lot of them will, and that includes military men Epps and Lennox, played by Tyrese Gibson and Josh Duhamel, respectively. During our set visits, Duhamel touched a bit on the behind-the-scenes machinations that kept him from joining the fourth film: “Yeah, it was definitely a reboot. And it was a little sad because I’d done the first three. But I was fine with it. And then they asked me to come back. And I was like, “I’d love to do it again.” It feels like, and this is a testament to Michael [Bay], 80% of this crew was there from the beginning, from the very first movie. So you see all these faces you worked with almost 10 years ago. Most of this crew is back.”
Now that he’s returned, how will the man who’s worked with both the military and the Autobots feel about a group like the TRF. As they’re backed by the US government, Lennox will find himself torn between his sworn duty and his former friends. The conflict will see him tangle with both Yeager and Santos, but something tells us he’ll make the right decision in the end.
5. Unicron the Living Planet?
Fans of the Transformers films not steeped in the lore of the cartoons and comics may be scratching their head at the sight of the gigantic moving planet-like structure that passes by our moon. While something that large would surely wreak havoc on our tides, it also appears to contain an ecosystem of its own, as a later scene shows some of those plant-covered appendages floating around a group of characters. With plans to steal the blueprints for the Death Star driving the action of Rogue One and Ego the Living Planet giving Star-Lord daddy issues in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, the next 8 months or so are going to give movie audiences plenty of living celestial bodies to oggle.
While they do, long-time Transformers fans are busy debating whether the mass is actually classic villain Unicron. We’ve debated the same question ourselves, and the evidence seems to be piling up higher and higher. Essentially the biggest bad in Transformers lore, Unicron is a threat that’s tailor-made for the fifth film in the franchise. It’s also possible that, Unicron or not, the huge Cybertronian will factor into the key historical mysteries of The Last Knight.
4. Izabella, Battle of Chicago Survivor
One of the biggest issues with the Transformers films is their mostly white and male casts. Even the female main characters are often used purely as sex appeal or someone for the main male character to rescue. That’s why actors like Santiago Cabrera and Isabella Moner are important additions to the cast, helping to ground the sci-fi film in reality by better representing the world. Playing the similarly named Izabella, Moner is the young girl seen throughout the trailer. When we visited the set of the film, she had a bit to say about her new character: “She also has her own little sidekick named Sqweeks, who is a mini-Transformer Vespa, super cute. He says “Chihuahua”, that’s like the only thing he says. She’s a little bit Latina, so that’s good. You’ll find me speaking Spanish a little bit throughout the movie. I love that because I’m throwing it back to my heritage. So yeah, shoutout to my people.”
Aside from repping her heritage, Izabella also helps the franchise appeal more to a female audience as the character is shown to be strong, smart, and independent. Moner told us that her character actually survived the Battle of Chicago, seen in Dark of the Moon, and has been traveling around with her companion Sqweeks ever since. With Shia LeBeouf’s Sam Witwicky gone from the franchise, Izabella looks to be stepping into the role of the mechanic who befriends an adorable robot.
3. Sqweeks the Autobot
Seen briefly in the trailer, Sqweeks is Izabella’s Autobot companion. Salvaged from the destruction in Chicago, Izabella repairs the little robot, who used to transform into a Vespa scooter, and travels around with him. Eventually, they’ll join up with the Autobots, where Izabella’s skills will likely come in handy. Though Bumblebee has long been the “adorable” one in the franchise, it’s a fun idea to have the young character get her very own companion. Like R2-D2 and BB-8, Sqweeks also allows Hasbro to shift toys to a much younger audience.
Even more intriguing, and further connecting the character to the newest Star Wars droid, Bay was originally going to have Sqweeks be entirely CGI. Moren, however, convinced him otherwise. “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 the Star Wars BB-8 kind of thing.”
2. Optimus Prime v Bumblebee
When it comes to crafting a buzzworthy trailer, editors know it’s all about ending things with a bang. The Last Knight naturally follows suit by finishing the teaser with a battle between Bumblebee and Optimus Prime. Why are these two friends and comrades duking it out? It’s a question that’s been asked by so many fans, we addressed it directly in an attempt to get to the bottom of the mystery. Could it have to do with his mission from the end of Age of Extinction going awry and leaving Prime floating dead in space? Does Optimus run afoul of the Unicron-like being hanging around the moon? While we probably won’t know for sure until the film premiers next summer, one of our writers has a few ideas.
Mansoor Mithaiwala has two separate theories from deep within the lore of Transformers. The first is that Optimus has become Nemesis Prime, an evil version of the character that has purple eyes (like Optimus does during the fight) instead of his usual baby blues. Another possibility is that the Autobot is pumped full of Dark Energon. The substance's violet-hue could be what’s glowing in Optimus’ eyes, and it’s known to be able to bring people back to life and increase their power. Perhaps the battle follows Prime’s resurrection after his trip to space. We learned during our set visit that the writer’s room is pulling more from the cartoons and comics, so one or both of these ideas could be our explanation.
1. Is Megatron The Last Knight?
Whether or not the three-headed dragon is Megatron’s alternate mode, we know the newly resurrected villain will be showing up in Arthurian times. How do we know? Well, we don’t for sure, but why else would be be wielding that sweet sword?! First seen when Megatron’s redesign was revealed earlier this year, we get to see the Decepticon leader swinging the massive blade around and slamming it on the ground at the feet of one of the human characters at the 1:48 mark. Kudos to whoever it is for not flinching, as we’d be scared out of our mind. Still, it’s never a good idea to get the big guy angry, and however he factors into the plot of the film, it’s unlikely to be good.
While Optimus’ own sword and prominence in the marketing of the film has led many to believe he’s the Last Knight of the title, is it possible that Megatron actually holds that distinction? Could his reappearance somehow be connected to the mystery that Anthony Hopkins’ character is investigating? That would certainly make for an interesting twist. Regardless, it’s great to see the rogue back in action, even if it’s just for a moment. With the premier of the film fast approaching, we’re likely to get more of Megatron in action and be given a sense of what he’s up to in the new movie.
Which moments from the trailer have you most excited for Transformers: The Last Knight? Let us know in the comments!
- Transformers 5/Transformers: The Last Knight (2017) release date: Jun 21, 2017
- Bumblebee (2018) release date: Dec 21, 2018