Rise of the Beasts: A New Era of Transformers

by 
 | December 19, 2022

Transformers: Rise of the Beasts is off to a thunderous start with that trailer! It’s one of the best trailers I’ve seen in a long, long time, and fans around the world have been sharing their excitement online. Why wouldn’t they?! Not only does the trailer feature the beloved Autobot leader Optimus Prime; it also introduces the Maximal leader Optimus Primal to the screen and the Decepticon tracker Scourge as the villain. Before we jump into what to expect, you need to see this trailer (assuming you haven't watched it on repeat for the last few days, of course):

While I can’t claim the coveted title of “Transformers superfan,” a very close friend of mine would go to war for this fandom, so I have a ton of respect and admiration for the Autobot cause. Now that fans are moving into a new age of Cybertronians, the hype for Transformers: Rise of the Beasts and its absolutely epic trailer has been unreal. That said, as a newbie to Transformers lore, I’ve done all the extensive research so you don’t have to.

Let’s talk about what we might see in Transformers: Rise of the Beasts under director Steven Caple, Jr., and what makes it different from the Michael Bay franchise–as told by a loyal Autobot supporter.

Confirmed Cast

A close up of Optimus Prime with his battle mask covering the lower portion of his face.
Optimus Prime is ready for war. (Paramount/Skydance)

For starters, we need to talk about the stellar cast. Peter Cullen is reprising his role as Optimus Prime, and it makes me so happy the project has paid him the respect he deserves as the most well-known voice for this legendary character. He’ll be joined by Peter Dinklage as Scourge, Ron Perlman as Optimus Primal, Michelle Yeoh as Airazor, and that’s just the start of the list! This reported prequel to the Bay movies is also bringing in exciting talent such as comedian Liza Koshy as Arcee, Pete Davidson as Mirage, John DiMaggio as Stratosphere, Michaela Jaé (MJ) Rodriguez as Nightbird, and Anthony Ramos and Dominique Fishback as the two human characters Noah and Elena. Phew, that’s a star-studded cast right there. If you want the full list, check out the official IMDB page here.

Optimus Prime stands in a forest.
Optimus Prime's look in the trailer. (Paramount/Skydance)

There's a lot of online discussion right now about Optimus Prime's design. The general consensus is they may not be finished rendering all the many moving pieces. Considering this is a teaser, I think fans can expect a much more polished and fan-pleasing final product.

Timeline

Scourge holding Bumblebee by his neck.
Scourge as a focal point villain. (Paramount/Skydance)

There’s been some speculation, and perhaps some confusion, online as to whether or not these movies connect to Michael Bay’s franchise. Based on my research, Transformers: Rise of the Beasts is technically a prequel to Michael Bay’s movies. The events happen in-universe after the events of the Bumblebee movie, which took place in 1987. Rise of the Beasts is happening in 1994, fitting it squarely between the two timelines.

However, the director has said it's a reboot, so it’s fair to expect some retcons to Bay’s canon. This is a chance for the new movies to fill in some major lore gaps left by the original movie run and introduce fan-favorite characters like Maximal leader Optimus Primal and the villainous Decepticon Scourge. Currently, viewers speculate the two planned sequels in this new Transformers trilogy will also be prequels to Bay’s movies. They'll differ from Bay's universe in not only timeline, design, and character development but also in plot, which brings us to what you can expect to see in this new era of Transformers.

What to Expect

Cheetor, in cheetah-inspired beast form, runs alongside Bumblebee, who is driving in car form.
Cheetor and Bumblebee hit the road. (Paramount/Skydance)

If you’ve been on the internet post-trailer release, you might’ve heard about the three factions of Transformers possibly featuring in Rise of the Beasts: the Maximals, Terrorcons, and Predacons. If you’ve never heard of them, here are their loyalties, respectively:

The Maximals are, in short, descendants of Autobots after the Great War. Optimus Primal is their leader, and it’s fair to say they’ll probably keep the Autobot ideals of justice and freedom.  

The Terrorcons are a subgroup of Decepticons and may be led by Scourge. This group might act as the primary antagonists, and considering Scourge in G1 is Galvatron’s tracker and a leader of his own team of huntsmen, maybe we’ll get some bounty hunter-type action from him in this movie. He's known to be ruthless, killing Autobots, Decepticons, Maximals–even going so far as fusing their faction symbols onto his body as a way to "keep count." If you don't know who Galvatron is, in most canon, he's a reborn version of Optimus Prime's nemesis Megatron.

Finally, we may see the Predacons, who are also descended from Deceptions. Lots of Deception action here, folks! Predacons tend to take on amphibian or reptilian beast modes, so prepare yourselves for some cool live action adaptations.

Story Predictions

The general plot reportedly revolves around the Maximals, Terrorcons, and Predacons joining the ongoing Cybertronian conflict between Autobots and Decepticons in places such as Brooklyn, New York, and Peru. There’s not much else circulating at the moment, but I’m betting on the Terrorcons taking over the screen as the primary villains. As the promotions hint at the movie traveling to Machu Picchu, we might also expect more Transformers lore to be revealed. Some diehard fans are also expecting Unicron to be the big bad for this trilogy, which considering he’s powered by the consumption of planets, stars, and existence itself, that would be a world-ending-level threat. I mean, just look at the scale of him compared to our puny planet:

Fan art by DeviantArt
artist uncannyknack
featuring Unicron in space holding the Earth in his hand.
Fan art by DeviantArt artist uncannyknack featuring Unicron vs. Earth.

With all this in mind, I think it’s safe to say this new iteration of your favorite Autobots and Decepticons is going to be absolutely incredible. The irreplaceable Peter Cullen is back for Optimus Prime, and Optimus Primal fans are finally able to see their favorite Maximal on the big screen. Oh, and for anyone out there who’s thinking of complaining about the name similarities between Optimus Prime and Optimus Primal, don’t tell me you waded through all the Aemond/Daemon/Rhaenys/Rhaenyra/Laena/Laenor House of the Dragon madness on the internet just to let a last name get you. You got this.

Transformers: Rise of the Beasts premieres in theaters on June 9, 2023, and I, for one, am here for this new adventure. While I do support a good villain, you know, at the end of the day, I gotta stick with Optimus Prime. Who are you rooting for in this new world?

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