Transformers fans have waited for a long time for a trailer for the newest movie in the franchise, and it finally dropped on December 1. It’s the seventh film of the franchise, after the sixth film, Bumblebee, was something between a prequel and a soft reboot of the first five Michael Bay-directer Transformers films. So, is Transformers: Rise of the Beasts a reboot, a prequel, or a sequel?
Transformers: Rise of the Beasts is officially a sequel to 2018’s Bumblebee, not a reboot. Still, seeing that even Bumblebee jumbled up some facts from the initial five films of the franchise, one can say that Rise of the Beasts will be a continuation of that new trend – a sequel of the soft-reboot film in the franchise.
The director had a lot to say about the future of the franchise a few years ago after Bumblebee came out as a huge hit despite the changes in tone, narrative, and overall franchise continuity. He’s adamant that there was no reboot in the franchise, but it’s all a bit unclear how exactly the films tie up to one another. Perhaps Transformers: Rise of the Beasts can make it clearer.
What will Transformers: Rise of the Beasts be about?
After the initial trailer dropped, we see that new Transformer factions are included in the mix. There’s clear indication and information that the movie will be based on the Beast Wars storyline, with Autobots, Predacons, Maximals, and Terrocons included.
Maximals are described as an old Transformer force that is awakening, and they transform into animal-like machines, such as gorillas (Optimus Primal), falcons (Airazor), cheetahs (Cheetor), and rhinos (Rhinox).
That being said, the timeline will likely have to be different in the movies than it is in the original Beast Wars storyline. So, where is the movie going with the plot? What do we know so far, for a fact?
Well, we know the plot revolves around 1994, when a pair of Brooklyn archaeologists come into an ancient conflict between the three different Transformer factions, along with the classic Autobots.
I don’t want to go further into the Beast Wars storyline or into assumptions about the plot for Rise of the Beasts, but it’s nice to have at least some clue about what to expect. As it seems, we just might get a total burst of the boundaries of a single Transformers universe in the movie franchise, but for now, let’s try to determine where Rise of the Beasts fits.
Is Transformers: Rise of the Beasts a reboot, prequel, or sequel?
Michael Bay directed the first five movies of the Transformers franchise. It was awesome but getting less interesting with each sequel, ultimately having the fifth movie of the franchise flopping. It was not bad, but the thing is, it was all seen, all heard, and brought nothing new to the table. Naturally, fans got bored with the same thing over and over again.
So, the producers – with Lorenzo Di Bonaventura at the helm – decided to mix it up in 2018 and go with a different director and a different approach.
Bumblebee officially came out as a prequel to Michael Bay’s films, and it was a big box office hit. That being said, it did mess up some facts that were established in the franchise earlier – like, for instance, the time frame of Optimus Prime’s arrival on Earth going from the 2000s to the 1980s.
So, one could say that Bumblebee wasn’t entirely a reboot, per se, but rather something called a ‘soft reboot,’ where the producers essentially get to choose which facts they are keeping and which they are throwing aside.
If you ask Di Bonaventura, however, the ‘reboot’ thing is blown way out of proportion. He shared his thoughts in a 2018 interview with SlashFilm:
“Reboot, I always hate that word because for one, I’m not sure I really understand what it means. We are going to do another big Transformers movie. It is going to be different than the ones that we’ve done before.”
So, if Bumblebee was not a reboot, but it wasn’t a clear-cut prequel (at least not when you consider the thrown-away facts), what does it make Transformers: Rise of the Beasts? Will that movie be a sequel, a prequel, or a real reboot?
Well, Rise of the Beasts is officially a sequel to Bumblebee (2018), set in 1994, while also serving as a Beast Wars introduction in the franchise. They moved away from the Unicron that was still somewhere out there, lurking. In the same interview, the producer explained:
“I’m not a fan of Unicron. It’s too big. It’s so big it’s beyond any sort of relatable thing I think, for me personally. That doesn’t mean it’s not going to be in the series someday. I don’t know that I’ve thought much about it honestly because we’ve been focused on this movie.”
It’s still not clear what this all means, right? Like, Bumblebee and Rise of the Beasts moved away from Michael Bay’s five Transformers movies but still use them as a reference point. So, where does that leave us?
How could the story unravel and connect to the Transformers franchise?
Last but not least, I’ve found the last quote from Di Bonaventura in the interview to be crucial for understanding where the franchise is going. He said:
“I think we’ve learned something in this movie about the tone that I would think the next big Transformers movie is going to have. It’s not like we’re going to copy it, but we’ve learned something. There’s more freedom than I think we originally thought in terms of what we can do.”
‘There’s more freedom than I think we originally thought in terms of what we can do.’ That’s the whole key. How could the story unravel and connect to the Transformers franchise so far?
The thing is – it doesn’t have to connect in any way. Remember what happened with X-Men: Days of the Future Past? The franchise was completely jumbled, and things just didn’t add up, so they explained it with time traveling and multiversal events that essentially erased the need to follow a strict timeline of events.
That’s exactly what could happen with Transformers: Rise of the Beasts. We could have some form of time-traveling, or even a multiverse going on, where events from the first five films and then Bumblebee and Rise of the Beasts are only loosely connected.
It’d give the writers freedom to explore new territory freely without having to worry about jeopardizing previously-established facts (like Bumblebee did, which is why fans call it a ‘soft reboot’).
It makes sense that it could really happen and that we could have the Transformers franchise branch out into a multiverse. I’m saying that because another Transformers film was already in development along with Rise of the Beasts, so perhaps that film will be the first to explore those new territories openly.
Again, none of this is officially confirmed, so take it with a grain of salt. What we do know for a fact is that Transformers: Rise of the Beasts will be set in 1994 as a sequel to Bumblebee while also introducing the Beast Wars into the franchise.
How it will all tie up in the end with the previous films remains to be seen, we’ll know for certain after Transformers: Rise of the Beasts hits the big screen on June 9, 2023.