Michael Bay's Transformers movies aren't exactly beloved by critics or by die-hard fans, and yet, all five installments of the franchise lit up the box office, earning a combined $4.38 billion worldwide. While old-school Transformers devotees saw many flaws in the films, general audiences enjoyed every minute of the spectacle. The stories were convoluted, but delivered on epic set pieces and rock 'em-sock' em robot action. With the fifth chapter, Transformers: The Last Knight, Bay was set to bid farewell as director by delivering a movie that would lay the foundation for an expansive cinematic universe with as many as 14 possible stories in development.
The first of those films, a Bumblebee spinoff, is set for release later this year. However, instead begin a bold new era for the series, Bumblebee may serve as a swan song of sorts. Out of this weekend's New York Toy Fair 2018 emerged word that the untitled Transformers 7 film has been dropped from from the upcoming Hasbro-Paramount movie slate. The toymaker then revealed that the Transformers live-action franchise will instead be rebooted, apparently sometime after 2021. While this news will undoubtedly come as a welcome relief for longtime fans of the robots in disguise, the same may not be said for those who enjoyed Bay's five movies (they're out there, really).
The apparent cancellation of this version of Transformers comes at an unfortunate time, considering that The Last Knight was the first movie to end in a "to be continued" manner. While all of the movies, from the 2007 original to 2014's Age of Extinction, concluded with an open door, The Last Knight was the first to set up a sequel. The mid-credits scene showed us that the story was nowhere near over, that Cybertronian sorceress Quintessa was still alive and had more nefarious plans for Earth. More than that, we were teased with the full scope of Unicron, and the fulfillment of a story that was only set up in The Last Knight. Now, however, if Hasbro's assertions are to be believed, this story may never be resolved, and Unicron will never get the big-screen treatment the character deserves.
Some might theorize the story could be resolved in Bumblebee, but that seems highly unlikely, considering the movie is set in the 1980s. While it's entirely possible that the Hailee Steinfeld-starring film addresses Unicron in some way, it won't suddenly flash back to a post-The Last Knight period to conclude the story of Quintessa, the Transformers' creator. What's more, because Bumblebee was produced at a time when the shared universe was actively in development, it might even seed future storylines that will never see the light of day.
When considering the mixed reception of the fourth movie of series, Age of Extinction, it seems that Paramount and Hasbro should have planned more carefully. Instead of using The Last Knight as a springboard, they should have viewed it as a conclusion to the series. Now, fans of the movies (seriously, they exist) will never get a proper conclusion to a series of films they have invested in for the past 11 years. After sticking with Optimus and the rest of the Autobots through highs and lows, through Revenge of the Fallen and a change in human leads, these fans deserved better. They deserve a proper conclusion, instead of the first act of a story that will now forever remain in the ether.
While many might not see the Transformers reboot as a big loss, the series is now poised to join other franchises that were never properly concluded. With enough foresight, that could have easily been avoided, all while setting up the reboot that Hasbro is now apparently aiming for.
Directed by Travis Knight (Kubo and the Two Strings), Transformers: Bumblebee stars Hailee Steinfeld, John Cena, Jorge Lendeborg Jr., Rachel Crow and Pamela Adlon. The film opens Dec. 21.