Ricky Church on the incredibly convoluted continuity of the Transformers franchise…
Since 2007, Michael Bay has been at the helm of the Transformers film franchise, delivering five instalments of Optimus Prime and his Autobot allies. Transformers: The Last Knight has promised to reveal the hidden history between the Cybertronian race and Earth and “why they keep coming back”, as Anthony Hopkins states in the trailer. However, the continuity shown in the films is one of the series’ biggest problems.
Each Transformers film has added to the history of the transformers and Earth, though to incredibly convoluted degrees, even retconning some of its own established mythology. Its one aspect of these films I have a problem with because it shows how little the story and history means to Bay and those involved in these films. Let’s just take a look at the incredibly convoluted history of the Transformers franchise.
In the first film, Sam Witwicky and his soon-to-be girlfriend Mikaela Banes are dragged into the war between the Autobots and Decepticons, led by Optimus Prime and Megatron respectively. The plot is pretty simple: Megatron is missing and his soldiers are looking for him and the AllSpark, an ancient piece of Cybertronian technology that gives life to their race. Megatron wanted to use the AllSpark to create more soldiers to conquer Cybertron and the universe.
The war between the Autobots and Decepticons ravaged the planet and the AllSpark was somehow “lost to the stars”. Both forces began searching the galaxy to find it and Megatron located it on Earth, though was frozen in the Arctic upon landing. His body was discovered 1897 and the AllSpark later in 1916, apparently landing 12,000 years prior.
The Hoover Dam was built around the AllSpark to hide its energy and Megatron was eventually moved there in the 1930s, where both were reverse engineered to create many of the technological advancements within society.
Transformers: Revenge of The Fallen
The film quickly reveals that the Transformers had visited Earth before. In 19,000 B.C., a primitive tribe of humans witness The Fallen constructing a Sun Harvester. The Fallen was one of the Primes, the mightiest of the Transformers, who led and created the members of their race. They used the Sun Harvester to, well, harvest the sun in order to create energon, their lifeblood, but only if nearby planets did not sustain life.
The Fallen attempted to steal the Matrix of Leadership, the only thing that could activiate the Sun Harvester, from the Primes. He was defeated and the Primes hid the Matrix somewhere on Earth. Though severely wounded, The Fallen remained alive and recruited Megatron, eventually ordering Decepticons to search Earth for the Matrix. It is later revealed that the ancient Egyptians built the Pyramids of Giza around the Sun Harvester and the huge device even provided the structural support for one of them.
Despite this, not one excavation team over the years had ever discovered a mysterious piece of alien technology within the pyramid. The movie also retcons Megatron’s role in the war by making him the second-in-command to an entity more powerful than him.
Transformers: Dark of the Moon
Now if you thought Revenge of The Fallen messed up the continuity of the films in any way, Dark of the Moon really stepped up its game to do so. The film opens with a brief flashback to Cybertron where we’re told by Optimus that in the final days of the war that Sentinel Prime, his predecessor, tried to escape Cybertron with something that could save their race, but was shot down.
Next we learnt that Sentinel’s ship drifted through space until it crashed on Earth’s moon in 1961, becoming the primary reason for the space race as the U.S. and Russia wanted to claim whatever technology was on the ship. It also turns out one of the fuel cells from the ship was what was responsible for the Chernobyl disaster. Neither event was ever brought up because Sector 7 conveniently deemed it highly classified.
Sentinel Prime is eventually revealed to actually be working with Megatron in order to save Cybertron. The two planned to use Sentinel’s technology to save Cybertron, though this is where it gets really confusing. Megatron states he was to rendezvous with Sentinel on Earth… but Megatron didn’t even know the AllSpark would land on Earth. Sentinel would have expected to crash on the moon. And speaking of that, it was Megatron’s own troops who damaged Sentinel’s ship, causing it to drift in the first place!
Let’s also not forget Sentinel’s ‘escape’ from Cybertron happened before the AllSpark was launched to space since it was the AllSpark’s launch that caused the mass exodus of Cybertron. This makes it very difficult to think of how the two could have possibly colluded to meet on Earth.
Transformers: Age of Extinction
As if the franchise needed to meddle with its own continuity even further, Age of Extinction reveals that the creators of the entire Transformer race were the ones responsible for wiping out the dinosaurs in order to create the metal the Transformers are made of. Yet there were still somehow Transformers who could become dinosaurs, including a two-headed one.
Age of Extinction also introduces the Knights Terminus, an group of Cybertronian Knights which Optimus is apparently part of, even though the series had never mentioned anything like that, nor does the film even fully explain what they are.
Transformers: The Last Knight
While the film comes out next week, the various trailers have shown that transformers have even more history on Earth. They apparently had an alliance with King Arthur and fought alongside his knights. Other trailers and posters have shown that they were even around in World War II with Bumblebee taking the form of an old jeep.
Between Transformers coming to Earth in the distant past to searching for various objects throughout history, the continuity and mythology in the Transformers franchise has been rife with inconsistencies. Now maybe The Last Knight will tie everything together, but there’s been so much loose continuity that I’m unsure if anything will fully make sense of it. If this is indeed Bay’s last Transformers film, hopefully future instalments will keep a better eye on the continuity and history of the characters and plots.