WARNING: Spoilers for the ending of Transformers: The Last Knight ahead
There seems to be a consensus that the latest entry in the Transformers film franchise is not the best waste of time at the theater this summer. The Last Knight is reportedly Mark Wahlberg and Michael Bay’s final hurrah with the transforming robot series, but that doesn’t mean it’s the last film we’re going to see with these characters. There’s the spin-off with Bumblebee dropping next year, featuring the voiceless robot in the ’80s, and then Bay has teased the existence of at least a dozen more sequel ideas to be explored in the future. While he might not be directing them, someone will be carrying to torch and using it to blow things up for a long time.
So where does The Last Knight come in? It’s got last in the title, but the film doesn’t even tell a story that could be considered the end for the Autobots, Decepticons, and whatever human characters become the true focus of the films next time around. There’s not promise that any of it will make sense, but the end of Knight does indicate that the Transformers series could be ready to branch out a bit into a scale we haven’t witnessed in these films to this point. That’s saying a lot for Michael Bay and company.
So at the end of the film, our heroes have stopped the destruction of Earth and Cybertron, foiling the plot of the Quintessa. She’s one of the Creators that Optimus Prime flew out into space to find before he somehow ended up just floating out in space in a deep freeze. Why he would fly out into space without protection if that was going to happen is just one of those questions we’ll never have answered, but Quintessa’s origins are clearer. She’s based on the Quintessons, the prior inhabitants of Cybertron that also happened to have been the creators/slave masters for the Transformers. They are tossed out by the bots and seem to hold a grudge.
Quintessa’s story doesn’t go that deep in the film, but she does represent the creators and she places the Autobots and Decepticons against each other for her own means. She wants to control Cybertron and control the staff of Merlin, this film’s important object that everybody is fighting over. She gets knocked out of the battle in the end, but she returns later in human form and she doesn’t seem to be finished trying to cause havoc for planet Earth.
That’s where what might the most controversial or confusing bit of this movie comes into play: the existence of Unicron. The giant robotic god of chaos and evil made his debut in the original animated Transformers movie and has a mythology rooted deep throughout the Transformers series and comics. A planet sized being that can transform into a robot, Unicron is meant to the be the sworn enemy and dark mirror of Primus, the bot that makes up Cybertron. So yes, Cybertron is supposed to be a living entity itself. Many assumed the large planet creature that assaulted Earth in the trailers and turned Optimus Prime evil was indeed the big bad from Transformers The Movie given his similar actions in that previous film. This was not the case in the end, however, but we still got a taste of Unicron in the end of the film:
Quintessa refers to Earth as Unicron and we see the horns sticking out of the ground by the end of the film, possibly representing the bot’s horns within. In the end, we see a camouflaged Quintessa approaching some scientists in the desert who seem to be studying one of the horns. She then offers the scientists some answers on how to “destroy” Unicron, continuing her stated goal from the beginning of the film.
The issue here is that the destruction of Unicron means the destruction of Earth, so it’s a bit confusing why the ultimate evil of the Transformers universe is the planet they all want to come to and defend with their lives. It could be a big switch from the original mythology, making Cybertron the evil and Unicron the source of good. It could be a hidden motive for Quintessa in order to bring Unicron back to life under the guise of saving Cybertron. And of course, it could just be one big mistake by the filmmakers in order to shoehorn in something nostalgic to the series. The latter seems odd if you have 14 movies to produce, but who knows. Blitzing through story is what these movies do at this point.
So we’re pretty much guaranteed a Unicron appearance in a future Transformers film, the return of Quintessa as one of the main villains of the series, more Megatron and whatever Decepticons haven’t been blasted into oblivion, and another human sidekick to focus the story on away from Mark Wahlberg. It’s a shame we won’t get the planet chewing, mystical giant Unicron from the original cartoon movie, but who knows. We could always get a complete reboot before 2019.