The promise of Transformers: The Last Knight has been that it’s going to shed light on the secret history of Transformers. Seeing as most of the other films in Michael Bay’s franchise haven’t exactly overflowed with a fidelity to continuity, that’s going to be... interesting. Has everything we’ve seen been massively confusing and contradictory? Yes. Yes it has. Have I tried to wrestle it into some sort of coherent shape anyway? Yes.
Nothing in the world has compelled me more than the images thrown at us from Transformers: The Last Knight. I am so invested in the history being created in this movie, I sat down and tried to combine what we’ve seen with everything from the previous movies and everything we’ve been told about the sequels and here’s what I know.
- 65 million years ago: a race of aliens detonate a bunch of bombs that turn dinosaurs into robots
Obviously, the earliest Transformers on Earth were the Dinobots. Does this have a better explanation than how I described it? I leave figuring that out to the FAQ. (Spoiler: Nope!)
- Around 17,000 BCE: A bunch of Transformers are found by prehistoric humans building a thing
Just a reminder that this is a scene that opened the second Transformers movie. A fight with humans who have spears, set 19,000 years in the past.
- Around 2560 BCE: Construction of the Great Pyramid of Giza is completed, hiding the Fallen’s Sun Harvester in it
There is a Sun Harvester in one of Egypt’s pyramids because... I don’t know. Why the Primes didn’t make sure there wasn’t a Sun Harvester hanging out on Earth after they subdued the Fallen, I don’t know. Also, how long did it take him to build this thing?
- 27 BC – 395 AD: Tranformers in Rome? I guess?
This isn’t for sure yet, but apparently there have been talks. If it happens I’m assuming they hung out in the Empire and not the Republic. Whatever.
- Late 5th-century AD (or thereabouts): Transformers fight with King Arthur and his knights
There is a lot of footage of Transformers sitting with King Arthur and his Round Table, chock full of knights, in the trailers for The Last Knight. Basically, this movie is going to tell us that all the Arthurian legends are just interpretations of a history including giant robots and of the hiding of some valuable Cybertronian thing.
If Transformers and their magic is the real reason for the Holy Grail bit, that’s... more blasphemous than I expected from Bay, really. But it’s probably just Excalibur, given how often the sword’s been featured in other footage.
- 1066: Transformers fight in the Battle of Hastings as depicted in the Bayeaux Tapestry
William the Conqueror needed a little robotic help, I guess. Every single conflict in the world since King Arthur’s time is going to be explained as bad Transformers and their allies trying to find the thing and good Transformers and their allies trying to protect it, isn’t it?
- 1562-1563 Pieter Bruegel the Elder paints “The Triumph of Death” with Transformers in it
I guess the Dutch master saw some giant robots destroy shit and thought, “Yes, death is stronger than anything.” That is also how a lot of people feel during a Transformers movie, to be fair.
- 1776: Transformers in the American Revolution
Of course it is. And apparently it was so cold, a robot needed a cloak. (Fun fact: The original painting comes up quick in a Google image search for “American Revolution paintings.”)
- Late 1800s (approximately): Robots “in disguise” in Japan as giant samurai.
You know, just a bunch of samurais sitting down for a photo with a giant robot who is also wearing samurai armor. This is going to be a reference to giant mechs in Japanese culture, I swear.
- 1860s: Transformers involved in the American Civil War.
I literally no idea how, I’m just going off the inclusion of the Lincoln photo in Anthony Hopkins’ character’s Transformers Thru History display. There is also a photo of Frederick Douglass given special focus, and if the robots fought against slavery I will weep.
- 1883: Transformers somehow involved in the eruption of Krakatoa
- 1895: A frozen Megatron and a chunk of the Allspark is found by explorer Archibald Witwicky
Archibald, great-great-grandfather of Sam Witwicky (Shia La Beouf), also shows up on the cover of “Explorer’s Magazine” in The Last Knight.
- 1903: Photo taken of “The Witwiccans”
Archibald Witwicky is so getting retconned to have been looking for the Allspark the whole time, isn’t he? And be the namesake for a society of Friends of Transformers. I bet Anthony Hopkins’ character in Last Knight is a member
- 1914-1918: WWI But With Transformers
Sure. I mean, a Transformer doesn’t need to worry about a trench or poison gas, so I bet they were very useful. You can see more war and Transformers photos here.
- 1939-1945: WWII But Also With Transformers
World War II is in The Last Knight a little bit; it’s likely part of Hopkins’ history with them, prompting a flashback. As for why Al Gore’s picture is there, well, going by the principle that every joke in Transformers is the simplest joke possible, we’re betting he invented giant transforming robots and the internet.
World War II is a really handy war for these kinds of movies because there was a lot of weird occult stuff being pursued. Also, giant robots fighting Nazis has never been a bad idea.
- 1961: A Cybertronian device crash lands on the moon and NASA’s moon missions are set up to go investigate.
Remember? This is the entire reason why we went to the moon, according to the third film.
- 1980s: Bumblebee spinoff
Again, we haven’t seen the upcoming spinoff yet, but we know that Bumblebee hung out in the past with humans and had adventures based on a description of the upcoming spinoff in Empire.
From there, the movies take place in the time they were made and came out. Transformers in 2007, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen in 2009, Dark of the Moon in 2011, and Age of Extinction in 2014.
It’s a long, complicated history and it’s just completely insane in the best way. Transformers just keep coming here and hiding shit and maybe accidentally destroying important artifacts? None of the Autobots or Decepticons seem to have any idea what any other Transformers was ever doing, at any point in time, and the best part is somehow the word about the giant robots present at every major event in history didn’t get out until a battle in the 2000s?!
I need a nap.