If your appetite for shape-shifting alien robots is insatiable, well, buddy … open wide.
Michael Bay tells EW that this summer’s Transformers: Age of Extinction will herald the arrival of at least two more battling ‘bot movies. He thinks of it not as Transformers 4, but as more of a reboot – even though he’s still running the show.
“It’s kind of like a new Transformers,” Bay says. “We had three, the first trilogy, and this is going to be the next one.” The next…trilogy? “Yeah, it’s the first of a new trilogy,” he says after a moment of hesitation. “I’m not necessarily sure that I’m doing [the others], but that’s what it’s meant for.”
Shia LaBeouf is out, and Mark Wahlberg is in as the human lead, and among the new Transformer characters is the fellow you see above – Grimlock, the fire-breathing leader of the Dinobots, a special class of Cybertronian warrior who changes not into a vehicle, but a T-Rex-style brawler. As the June 27 movie heads to theaters, Bay gave us a rundown of some of the other new additions.
Why dinosaurs? Except for the obvious answer (dinosaurs are awesome!), the actual origin of these creatures has changed, depending on who is telling the story.
As revealed on the cover of Marvel’s Transformers #8 (Sept. 1985), Grimlock was the head of a special-ops team that took camouflage as dinosaurs after they crashed landed on prehistoric Earth (Optimus Prime and the rest of their mechanical brethren remained unconscious and buried for eons after that.) In the 1984 animated TV series, the Dinobots were introduced as weapons created by the Autobots, who took inspiration from some fossils they’d discovered.
Bay isn’t revealing his own origin story for Grimlock just yet. “I like to keep things very much in the dark. But yes, you’ll understand why they’re there when you see the movie. If you think I’m supposed to give away a lot of story points? No way! Keep it secret.”
What he will reveal about Age of Extinction’s Grimlock are some Tech Spec details: although it’s an all-digital creation, he’d be 150 feet long from tail to nostrils, 63.5 feet tall from the ground to the top of his horns, and weigh 850 tons. So there.
He’s a little more forthcoming about this guy …
In the trailer, we know him colloquially as “Gun Face.” (Watch the clip below, and you’ll see why.) But it’s actually a Transformer who is neither Autobot or Decepticon, a bounty hunter named Lockdown, whose alternate form is a Lamborghini Aventador.
“Lockdown is an interesting character. He travels the galaxy, he works for somebody else. And he’s here for one person, one alien, and then he’s out of here,” Bay says. “So he doesn’t really want to take sides. The cause and balance of the galaxy is kind of messed up when different species play with different species. And that opens up a whole other gigantic world for Transformers.”
In other words, someone, somewhere, is not happy that puny humans and Transformers have been mingling like this.
God made Adam and Eve, after all. Not Adam and Bumblebee.
Bay says there are characters and plotlines hinted at in Age of Extinction that won’t be fully explored this time around, but are meant to help set up future stories.
“Lockdown’s ship has a lot of meaning that can go into other movies. There’s a lot of backstory about that ship that’s not laid out here,” he says. “You’re going to see a few things where you’re like ‘What is that? And what is that?’ And you’re going to see a couple shots like, ‘Wait a minute, who are they?’ But we don’t answer those questions.”
What about the mystery of what the hell is up with Shia LaBeouf? Bay wouldn’t take that bait, but said it was clearly time to part ways.
“It’s all good. He’s a good guy, but three movies, the same guy, it’s time, you know what I’m saying?” Bay says. “It’s always good to freshen it up and change the story.”
He insists LaBeouf was not fired, even though Bay feels a new trilogy needed a new star.
“No, no it was mutual. He only wanted to do three, and I think that’s all,” Bay says. “Then I pulled Mark into this after Pain & Gain, because we had a great time working together.”
One star who is returning: Optimus Prime, voiced again by Peter Cullen, who has been providing the stentorian tones of the Autobot leader since the ’80s cartoon series.
Judging by early footage EW has seen, this version of Prime is much more akin to (stay with me, here) Sylvester Stallone’s John Rambo in First Blood – a warrior whose battle has seemingly ended, but has no home, and not welcome anywhere. After Chicago was ransacked in the last movie (2011’s Dark of the Moon), humans have decided all Transformers, good or bad, are robots non grata. This time around, the director promises, we’ll get to see “angry Optimus Prime.”
“[The government] wants to wipe out all the Transformers, all the Autobots,” says Wahlberg, who becomes a de facto diplomat. “Optimus has lost all faith in humankind, and I’m trying to convince him there is still good in the world and we need to work together.”
Or as Bay puts it: “He’s done good for earth, and he’s been f–ked over.”
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