With Paramount having recently announced the release dates for the next three entries in the Transformers series, I got to thinking about the franchise as a whole from the perspective of a longtime Transformers fan. Where can the franchise go from the ending of [Transformers: Age of Extinction](tag:206531)? More importantly, how exactly can the franchise be made both decent/watchable, as well as receive some good attention from Transformers fans and critics alike? In the vein of Belated Media's "What if Star Wars ___ Were Good?", let's pretend that I had the opportunity to craft my version of Transformers 5. This is what I would pitch:
First, the Important Things
Remember, this is where Transformers: Age of Extinction left off:
Optimus flies off into space, looking for the creators of the Transformers. First off, this needs to be a much smaller scale, more personal story than what we've seen in the previous entries in the franchise. Not as many explosions, more character-driven moments, and a more in-depth look at the Transformers themselves are badly needed in this bloated franchise, and Transformers 5 should absolutely start to deliver on that.
Therefore, let's bring in a fresh faced character we haven't seen before, and have the movie focus on both him and Optimus' journey to find the creators of their race. Why focus on someone other than Optimus? Because audience's have undoubtedly grown bored of him giving the exact same speeches over and over again, and we need to prove that there's more to Transformers than just the leader of the Autobots.
Speaking of, let's talk characters. As I mentioned above, we need a new character. To that end, I suggest the complex and interesting detective character known as Nightbeat.
Yes, he's not well known or expected, but hear me out. Say Optimus goes out looking for his creators, only to be caught/go missing for a lengthy period of time (as almost every franchise in history with this setup has shown can happen). Someone will have to track him down, and who better than one of the best detectives in the Transformers universe? Focusing on a detective also gives us a unique story angle, giving us more of a hard-boiled, character driven, film noir type of movie. Rather than explosions every two seconds, why not have a "whodunit?" mystery with excellent action beats every so often?
This being the first of a potential trilogy, we'd also have to start introducing more of the cosmic side of the franchise, all to lead up to the arrival of one of the franchise's best known villains: Unicron! Believe it or not, setting up the arrival of a giant planet eater in this series is actually a little easier than you'd think, considering he (technically) already has some history in the film series. In Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, the titular villain is mentioned to have once been a heroic Prime, one of the original thirteen Transformers.
While the film leaves this plot point dangling (who exactly made the Primes is never revealed), the original comics and TV show have a giant planet-sized space god named Primus be the original creator. However, one of these Primes is eventually seduced towards evil by Primus' evil twin, Unicron, and becomes known as "The Fallen." We can use this as a spring board to tie in both Primus and Unicron, giving them an almost mystical, shadows in the background (a la the Emperor in Star Wars) type of vibe in this film, leaving the other films to flesh them out a bit more.
However, you can't show the creation of the Transformers without the introduction of the Quintessons, squid-like aliens who built the Autobots and Decepticons on Cybertron. Their role as a minor villain in the 1980s The Transformers: The Movie is something like what I'd like to see in our hypothetical Transformers 5: creepy, evil, and clearly deranged. I'd also like to see some sort of a twist on their not actually being considered the true creators of the Transformers that would be expanded on in the sequels. Maybe they're acknowledged as developing the bodies, but Primus is the one receiving the glory for giving the Transformers sparks (aka souls)?
Our Hypothetical Plot
Optimus Prime has been missing for a few years since his journey into space looking for the creators of the Transformers. With no real clues to go off of, the Autobots on Earth send out a message to Nightbeat (who would have some kind of history with one of the surviving Autobots), asking him to search for Optimus. Despite swearing off the detective game and declaring himself retired, Nightbeat eventually accepts the job and begins searching.
His first stop is to a popular Transformers bar, Maccadam's Old Oil House (we're moving it from Cybertron, its location in the source material, to another planet because of Cybertron's destruction in Transformers: Dark of the Moon), to interrogate some of the surviving Decepticon warriors who had been making claims on fighting Optimus since his journey into space. After almost getting into a barroom brawl with a few cameos, like Barricade and/or the Constructicons (characters we never technically saw die in the previous films), Nightbeat gets a tip from the old Autobot Kup, who just so happens to be drinking in the same bar and lamenting the status of today's "warriors." Kup reveals that Optimus had stopped in the same bar on his search for the Transformers' creators, and revealed that he was on his way to a planet called Lithone, which was rumored to have knowledge on the beginnings of the universe.
However, on arriving at Lithone, Nightbeat finds it completely destroyed (the confusion in the scene from A New Hope when the Millennium Falcon arrives at a destroyed Alderaan is what we're going for here). Examining the scattered bodies and pieces of debris floating around, he finds both traces of the Matrix of Leadership in the area, as well as large scores on what used to be the planet's surface. Nightbeat concludes that Optimus was indeed at the location of Lithone, but was not on its surface during the planet's destruction. However, he cannot pinpoint what caused the destruction of the planet, his only clue being the name "UNICRON" being the most recently viewed file in a piece of wreckage. With the file being too damaged to gather anything else, Nightbeat assumes that Optimus went in search of a Transformer creator named Unicron and continues onward, following the trail of Matrix energy left behind by Optimus.
The trail leads Nightbeat to the planet Junkion, where he finds a small portion of Lithone's survivors. After a case of mistaken identity (and a fight with native inhabitants of the planet of Junk), Nightbeat is told by the Lithone survivors that Unicron is not a giver of life, but a destroyer. It was he who destroyed their planet and forced them to Junkion. They ran into Optimus along the way, who helped guide them to safety, even providing some of the Matrix's energy to help keep the survivors together and safe on their journey. As it turns out, Nightbeat was following their trail the entire time. However, not all is lost, as Optimus mentioned to the survivors where he was headed: Quintessa. After locating the planet with old maps and starcharts on Junkion, Nightbeat heads towards the mysterious planet.
He eventually arrives on Quintessa, a world seemingly devoid of life. Here, the trail runs cold, and Nightbeat can't find any further hints of Optimus' existence. However, a cut to futuristic monitors and writhing tentacles show us that he isn't actually alone. Just as he prepares to contact the Autobots on Earth, Nightbeat is attacked by the vicious Sharkticons and, after a gruesome battle, is captured and locked up with two Transformers, one of them being an almost unrecognizable Optimus.
The heavily damaged Optimus reveals that he was guided by the wisdom of the Matrix of Leadership to Lithone, where a group of scientists (including the other prisoner, named Kranix) had been studying the origins of the universe. As it turns out, they began studying ancient texts referring to an ancient destroyer called Unicron, who was attracted to and fed off of planets containing large amounts of Energon (and, therefore, Transformers). Despite their having some information on Unicron and his rivalry with an equally ancient Transformer (allowing for a quick cameo from the Primes and The Fallen), they did not have the answer on creation, so Optimus continued his search elsewhere. Soon after he left, Unicron arrived and devoured Lithone. Optimus eventually found Quintessa, where he is ambushed and damaged by the Sharkticons before being locked up. Nightbeat arrived not long after.
Kranix is bitter, expressing the belief that Unicron was only attracted to Lithone by the powerful energies of the Matrix Optimus carries with him. He reveals that he and his family were separated from the rest of the survivors during the mass evacuation of Lithone and crash landed on Quintessa, where the Quintessons killed them off one by one, leaving Kranix for last. He also reveals that, while they never found who exactly created the Transformers, the group of Lithone scientists did discover that the Quintessons aren’t actually the real creators of the Transformers, like Optimus thought. He is then targeted by the Quintessons and killed offscreen.
The next day, Optimus and Nightbeat are dragged out of their cells by the Sharkticons and are dropped off in front of the Quintessons. Clearly deranged, the Quintessons have a kangaroo court set up, where they judge their victims and have them fed to a frenzied pool of Sharkticons below. Just before they're officially sentenced, Optimus and Nightbeat fight their way out of their bonds and, after destroying a number of Sharkticons, manage to get off the planet, with the Quintessons in hot pursuit.
During the chase, Optimus begins to run dangerously low on energy. Despite Nightbeat's best efforts, Optimus is almost caught by the Quintessons again. He ends up having to use the gravity of a planet he finds in a slingshot maneuver to rocket past his kidnappers and escape. On the way back to Earth, Optimus and Nightbeat talk about Unicron, and how they need to warn the Autobots, in case the planet-eater ever comes to Earth. The after-credits scene has to be about the planet Optimus used as a slingshot suddenly lighting up and slowly drifting in the direction Optimus and Nightbeat were headed, with Unicron's creepy howl sound effect being the last thing we hear before we cut to black.
This is all completely unlikely to happen, but what do you think about this version of Transformers 5? Let me know in the comments below, or through Twitter at @comicsvsworld. While you’re at it, don't forget to check out my website, Comic Books vs The World, for even more comic book related content.