With “Bumblebee,” bringing the Transformers franchise back into the past for the first time in series history, is there a chance that this prequel could set up another prequel…namely a War for Cybertron movie? When the movie hits theaters next month, it’ll give fans of the Transformers franchise their first look at the Autobots and Decepticon’s home planet of Cybertron for just the second time in the film series, and the first time since “Transformers: Dark of the Moon,” in 2011.
It’ll actually be our best look at the planet yet. While I don’t think anyone expects Bumblebee’s plot to spend much time on that home planet, that scene in “Dark of the Moon,” was a prologue that only lasted a minute and a half. In that scene, our only first-hand look at the war for Cybertron was passing shots as the ship carrying Sentinel Prime tried to escape the planet.
Already the trailer for “Bumblebee,” makes it clear that we’ll be seeing more than that this time around. The latest trailer showed off some of the series most iconic Autobots and Decepticons fighting it out on the planet’s surface. Even better? They were rocking their “Generation 1,” designs, too.
The sequel also looks like it’s going to be our best look at not just Cybertron, but the war for the fate of the planet, too. In previous installments, we only saw the war after much of it had happened. The remaining few Decepticons and Autobots were left fighting it out for resources or artifacts that always just so happened to be on Earth. We know that by the time of “Bumblebee,” the Autobots seem to be on the run. At least we see that Bee is, with three Decepticons on his tail. That alone seems to hint that the Autobot cause is worse for the wear.
An Untold Story
So far, the story of the battle between the Autobots and the Decepticons has only been explored in the original animated series, where the war was still ongoing, or in video games like “War for Cybertron,” and “Fall of Cybertron.” Both games had incredibly deep and rich stories that were soundly praised as one of their best features. While we’ve been hearing great things about “Bumblebee,” from test screenings, this could be a much more serious and nuanced movie than the franchise has ever seen
Part of that is because to-date the War has simply just been two-dimensional. It’s almost always treated as simply something that happened to these characters in the past. We haven’t ever really gotten any information on what exactly the Autobots or Decepticons stood for specifically, beyond what Optimus’ narration so often told us: freedom vs tyranny. What exactly that means in the context of Cybertronian society remains to be seen, at least in these films. Beyond the opportunity to explore those questions more in depth, the war has also been incredibly long. This could easily be not just a prequel but a whole franchise or trilogy unto itself, not unlike the “Fantastic Beasts,” films in the “Harry Potter,” franchise.
But there are several factors that make this potential movie more of a long-shot. First and foremost, we’ve seen Cybertron twice already, even if it was briefly. Also, if we’re getting an extended look at the planet and the war in this movie, there’s a good chance that the studio wouldn’t want to go back so quickly. Beyond that, it feels like Paramount only looks at Cybertron and the War between the Autobots and Decepticons as background information rather than a story in and of itself. Even though this would be an opportunity to change that, there’s a good chance that Paramount isn’t interested in it simply because they never have been in the past.
Another potentially damaging factor is the fact that the budget of the movie would have to be significant, in no small part because it would almost certainly be entirely CGI. That also presents a potential issue for the studio: lack of recognizable big names in the cast. Obviously Frank Welker and Peter Cullen would be voicing Megatron and Optimus respectively, but beyond that you could have a whole host of celebrity voices as other bots, something they haven’t done until Bumblebee. In the upcoming film, Angela Bassett and Justin Theroux voice the Decepticons Shatter and Dropkick. Still, not having a “face” for the movie – no Shia LaBoeuf, no Mark Wahlberg, no Hailee Steinfeld — at all could give the studio pause.