Even in this age of pop culture entertainment, when fans gorge on the spectacle of cosmic abstract monstrosities engaging in battle with sentient mammals and literal mythological gods, the prospect of seeing opposing factions of giant robots converting into vehicles has got fans hooked. Yes, we are talking about the Transformers media franchise that started its journey in the 80s as an attempt to westernize the Japanese toy brand Takara’s “Diaclone” and “Micro Change” lines and gradually sprawled into one of the highest-grossing franchises of all time, comprising innumerable toys, comics, animated content, and multimillion-dollar movies.
Previously, a film series based on the Transformers franchise helmed by Michael Bay continued for a decade and consisted of five aggressively mediocre, overly stylized CGI cluster dump, run-of-the-mill action movies. After the end of the series, later regarded as Bayverse, the Transformers prequel series, starting with the 2018 entry Bumblebee, brought the franchise back to its original roots: the simplistic, clean robotic designs and a narrative that focused on the humanistic aspect of the dueling factions. As a sequel to the movie Transformers: Rise of the Beasts, which is about to rumble in theaters this week, we will try to bring the readers up to date about the franchise and what to expect from the much-anticipated entry.
The Basics: What Are The Transformers? Who Is The Legendary Villain Unicron?
The extremely intricate and expansive lore of the Transformers began with a rather simplistic origin tale. Billions of years ago, during the creation of the universe, two opposing forces were created by the One: the light or creation known as Primus and his evil counterpart, his twin brother, Unicron. These primal forces of nature got locked in a perennial battle that ended with Unicron being banished to a prison-like gigantic cosmic vessel, which later turned into a planet, while Primus turned into the planet known as Cybertron. Even while entrapped, Unicron displayed the ability to convert into mechanical forms, and taking a cue from the ability, Primus created ‘The Thirteen,” sentient robotic lifeforms in his own image who were the first residents of Cybertron. These thirteen mythical beings would be known as the Primes and would be revered by generations of Cybertronians to come. The life force of Primus, known as Energon, fuels the planet’s core and allows the sustenance of all the denizens through millions of years.
The form-shifting Cybertronians are known to humans as sentient robotic extra-terrestrial lifeforms – Transformers.
Autobots And Decepticons
Millions of years later, the Cybertronian society fell to corruption and a discriminatory ‘functionism’ system, and the situation was aggravated by the disappearance of the Primes. A noble working-class hero known as Orion Pax is chosen by the consciousness of Primus and given his essence known as the “Matrix of Leadership,” which transforms him into Optimus Prime, the last of the Primes. Optimus’ former friend Megatron leads an uprising against the ruling class and forms a group named Decepticons, who seek to conquer the universe. To stop them, Optimus leads the honorable group of do-gooders known as Autobots. The vicious battle between Autobots and Decepticons ravages Cybertron through millennia until the planet nears destruction, and Optimus has to send Cybertronians to seek refuge on other habitable planets. The evil Decepticons follow their rival group, and they both reach Earth, and their warfare extends here as well. While Decepticons seek to annihilate the existing species of this planet and reform Earth as Cybertron, Autobots seek to save humans and others from their rivals’ clutches.
Who Are The Maximals, Predacons, And Terrorcons?
The upcoming Transformers: Rise of the Beasts will heavily deal with another fan-favorite property of the franchise, as it will be an adaptation of the critically acclaimed animated series “Beast Wars.” According to the lore, several hundred years after the arrival of the Cybertronians, the Autobots gained victory over the Decepticons and adapted into native lifeforms by mimicking the appearance of animals, becoming known as Maximals. Some of the known Maximals are Optimus Primal, who resembles a mech gorilla, Cheetor, Rhinox, etc. The remaining Decepticons follow suit and turn into Predacons. These animalistic Transformers once again lock horns in a vicious battle, and the upcoming movie will showcase that in full glory.
Terrorcons are an interesting bunch of Decepticons who were created by injecting Dark Energon (the life force of Unicron) into dead Transformers, and their leader, Scourge, will be the prime villain of the upcoming movie. The appearance of Unicron has also been teased, which means the origins of the Cybertronians and Primes will come into play as well.
How Will Both Primes And Their Factions Meet?
As shown in the climax of Bumblebee, Optimus Prime and other Autobots start appearing on Earth following B-127, aka Bumblebee’s successful scout operation on the planet. But as the trailers show, to both Optimus and the audience’s surprise, led by Optimus Primal, the Maximals have been living on the planet already. Both the past and present forms of Autobots have to figure out not only how to put aside their differences but also how to join hands to face the common enemy, Unicron, and Scourge.
There is a fan theory that suggests that Bayverse Optimus Prime was killed at the end and Unicorn resurrected him as Scourge, a wild assumption that is supported by some similar character design choices, and honestly, in the age of multiverse shenanigans coupled with time travel gimmicks, this new twist can surprise Transformers fans the most. The fact that “Beast Wars” included a major time travel plot where the Maximals traveled back to the prehistoric world also supports another narrative that after eons of existence, the Maximal leader Primal, who is a descendent of Optimus Prime, goes back in time to warn his predecessors.
Lastly, Rise of the Beasts will push the Transformers franchise in a yet unexplored direction in live-action and is the first step to the expansive world-building of the universe. Here’s hoping the character-driven, emotionally elevated aspects of “Beast Wars” remain intact in the movie as well and Bumblebee finds a worthy sequel to let Optimus roar “Autobots, roll out” once more.