What started as a toy line about machines that transform into good and bad robots (Autoboots and Decepticons) has since morphed into a collection of cartoons, games, comics, and best of all, into a series of big-hit movies. Whether you were born in the 1980s and are familiar with the franchise, or recently jumped into the bandwagon, there’s no denying the popularity of the Transformers and the joy it brings to the young and young at heart, specifically the fans.
The fans have Michael Bay to thank for bringing these human-like robots to the silver screen with the release of the 2007 live-action adaptation. It was a hit, taking over $4 billion at the global box office, that viewers craved for more. Thus, it spawned five more films and even a spinoff story about the lovable Bumblebee.
With six films in total, it can be difficult to follow the story especially when the timeline of events does not necessarily rely on the release date. Think Star Wars, the Underworld films, or the Terminator film franchise. The sheer size of these movie chronologies can be perplexing especially to the noob. For this reason, we have listed down the title of the Transformers films according to the timeline of events to get a better understanding of the origin of these robots. Let’s roll out…
It may be the most recent film released but it’s the first in chronological order. The story is set in 1987 and takes place during the Cybertron Civil War. It explains how Bumblebee came to be called as such, although his original name is Autobot scout B-127.
During the war, his speech system was smashed. In a last-ditch effort to survive, the leader of the Autobots, Optimus Prime sends him to Earth to scout for a place where the team can regroup. There, he befriends a girl named Charlie (Hailee Steinfeld) who is very much into cars and is still mourning the death of her father.
She names Autobot scout B-127 Bumblebee because she first saw him in his car form, as a yellow Volkswagen Beetle. In the original toy line and cartoon, he had black and yellow color and his car doors formed wings, so it made sense to name him Bumblebee. He also could not tell her his real name and could only converse through words he picks out from the radio. But over time, Bumblebee has taken on many forms especially into muscle cars. By the end of the film, he had turned into a Camaro.
This spinoff film also included Sector 7 who came to work with the Decepticons after they were made to believe that Bumblebee is dangerous and needs to be contained. It introduced Shatter and Dropkick, two of the Decepticons sent on a mission to track Bumblebee in an attempt to kill all the Transformers. But Bumblebee ends up becoming Earth’s protector against the Decepticons.
The movie is surprisingly fun, engaging, and a big success for what critics initially thought was a risky move that could either end up as a hit or miss. The end of the Bumblebee film somehow threw off the events of the Autobots arriving on earth as it sees him meeting up with the newly arrived Optimus Prime. In the 2007 Transformers movie, the other robots came to his rescue after he sent out a beacon.
Directors: Travis Knight—Screenplay: Christina Hodson— Cast: Hailee Steinfeld, Jorge Lendeborg Jr., John Cena, Jason Drucker, Pamela Adlon, Stephen Schneider, Ricardo Hoyos, John Ortiz— Run Time: 1h 54m
Shia LaBeouf may have made a name for himself already (as Even Stevens) when he landed the lead role in this action-packed Transformers movie from Michael Bay. But it was this film itself that catapulted him into Hollywood stardom. It also introduced viewers to rising star Megan Fox.
Flash-forward twenty years after Bumblebee and viewers are introduced to nerdy high school student Sam Witwicky (Shia LaBeouf). He becomes the unlikely protagonist in the story after he comes in possession of the directions leading to the All Spark, the source of all Cybertronian life.
His grandfather, Captain Archibald Witwicky, chanced upon a frozen Megatron during one of his expeditions in 1897. He accidentally activates the villain’s navigational system which led to his eyeglasses being imprinted with the coordinates to the All Spark.
During this time, the Autobots and the Decepticons are in a race to retrieve the All Spark. The Autobots want to use it to rebuild Cybertron and end the war between the two factions. But the opposing team wants it to defeat the Autobots and conquer the universe.
Sam and his new girlfriend Mikaela (Megan Fox) are caught in the middle of the war, per se, because of Bumblebee. He has been on earth disguised as the teenager’s first car, a 1976 Chevrolet Camaro. The robot alerts the others of his location via a homing signal. But it isn’t long before the Decepticons started arriving on earth too after having learned of a way to find the All Spark.
The search ends with a battle in Mission City that leaves Megatron defeated. But with the All Spark reduced to a shard, Optimus Prime decides to have the team’s home base on earth.
The Transformers movie is a blast, literally. It is jampacked with action, thrills, and adventure. By this time the robots have learned how they can adapt to the human world by disguising themselves as modern machines. Part of the excitement is not knowing if you’re faced with an Autobot or a Decepticon, making the villains hard to find.
Also, the movie makes time to tell where the Autobots and Decepticons have been since 1987 or how long they have roamed the earth since the destruction of Cybertron. It even managed to write them into King Arthur’s timeline.
Directors: Michael Bay— Screenplay: Roberto Orci, Alex Kurtzman— Cast: Shia LaBeouf, Megan Fox, Josh Duhamel, Tyrese Gibson, Rachel Taylor, Anthony Anderson, Jon Voight, John Turturro, Kevin Dunn, Julie White— Run Time: 2h 24m
Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (2009)
This third film in the Transformers movie series brings back Sam and Mikaela and takes two years after the events in the 2007 film. Sam is now in college and the Autobots are working with a secret military organization in protecting the earth from the threat of alien invasions and in finding ways to make a home for themselves among the humans.
But Sam is in trouble, again, after he touches a shard of the All Spark left in his sweater and starts having visions of mysterious glyphs. The shard imprinted his brain with a large chunk of Cybertronian knowledge and brought machines to life. Thus, the “rebirth” of the Decepticons.
The connection then alerts an ancient Decepticon known as The Fallen, who orders for Sam’s capture, because he holds the key to finding the Star Harvester, a powerful weapon hidden in Egypt that can blow up the sun. There’s a lot going on in this story in terms of the history of The Fallen, a defector of his brothers The Primes, and his purpose on earth. His goal is simply to destroy the sun to create Energon, the source of energy for the Transformers. Amid the chaos brought by the Decepticons roaming the earth again, Sam finds himself faced with a resurrected Megatron and having to revive an injured Optimus Prime to defeat The Fallen.
This film is visually impressive and like any other Michael Bay movies; full of loud explosions and non-stop action sequences. It may not hold much in terms of an awesome storyline. But it gives fans of the franchise exactly what they want to see: plenty of adrenaline. Plus, the Decepticons in this movie can morph into humans. Sam nearly got himself killed by Alice, a robot who passed off as a college student and seduced him for the sake of getting into his brain, literally.
Directors: Michael Bay— Screenplay: Roberto Orci, Alex Kurtzman, Ehren Kruger— Cast: Shia LaBeouf, Megan Fox, Josh Duhamel, Tyrese Gibson, Isabel Lucas, Anthony Anderson, John Turturro, Kevin Dunn, Julie White, Ramon Rodriguez, John Benjamin Hickey, Rainn Wilson— Run Time: 2h 29m
Transformers: Dark of the Moon (2011)
This fourth film in the Transformers movie franchise takes place three years since The Fallen wreaked havoc on earth. Sam is out of college and is looking for a job. He also has a new girlfriend, Carly (Rosie Huntington-Whitley).
The Decepticons once again start a war and Sam is back in the action again. He helps Optimus Prime execute his plan to resurrect an old Transformer known as Sentinel Prime in the hopes that the ancient leader can end the war once and for all.
The villains, on the other hand, have plans to bring Cybertron to earth and destroy the planet. The two warring factions are on a space race to possess powerful technology that crashed on the moon and learn of its secrets. The climax leads to an explosive attack on Chicago with the Autobots swooping in to save the day.
Directors: Michael Bay— Screenplay: Ehren Kruger— Cast: Shia LaBeouf, Josh Duhamel, Tyrese Gibson, Alan Tudyk, John Turturro, Kevin Dunn, Julie White, Ken Jeong, John Malkovich, Leonard Nimoy, Peter Cullen, Frances McDormand, Patrick Dempsey, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley— Run Time: 2h 34m
Transformers: Age of Extinction
This sequel to the 2011 Transformers movie features an entirely new cast including Stanley Tucci and Mark Wahlberg. The story picks up five years after the battle between Autobots and Decepticons leveled out Chicago.
Mankind ultimately deems all alien robots a threat. Thus, the birth of an organization, led by CIA Harold Attinger, whose sole purpose is to hunt them down with the aid of a robotic bounty hunter. In comes “robotics expert” Cade Yeager who buys an old truck and upon examining it believes it to be a Transformer. He eventually finds out that the truck is a hibernating Optimus Prime
Together with his family, Yeager joins forces with Optimus to face off against a resurrected Megatron (now called Galvatron) and against Lockdown. The film takes viewers overseas to Hong Kong where the chaos and fight majorly take place. It concludes with Optimus heading to space to challenge his creators.
The movie brings back most of the Autobots featured in the previous films. It also introduced new ones including the Dinobots. It even made time to include a little prologue that happens during the prehistoric era. The story opens 65 million years ago to introduce an alien race known as the “Creators,” who covered the earth with an alloy called “Transforium” and killed off dinosaurs in the process. In the present day, geologist Darcy Tirrel uses the Transformium for KSI Industries to build Transformer drones.
Directors: Michael Bay— Screenplay: Ehren Kruger— Cast: Mark Wahlberg, Nicola Peltz, Jack Reynor, Stanley Tucci, Kelsey Grammer, Titus Welliver, Bingbing Li, Sophia Myles — Run Time: 2h 45m
Transformers: The Last Knight (2017)
Cade Yeager is back and this time he, Bumblebee, and an Oxford professor are in a race against time to save the world from destruction. This time the Autobots have become refugees and the mechanic is helping hide them in his junkyard.
Optimus Prime is missing after having gone to space to confront his Creators. He is ultimately captured by the nefarious Quintessa and turned evil under her spell. She orders him to retrieve an ancient sword that has the power to revive Cybertron but destroy earth in the process. The sword harks backs to a time when the Transformers were essential allies to King Arthur.
Yeager’s quest to save the planet leads him to an organization, led by Sir Edmund Burton, that protects the secrets about the existence of the Transformers through significant events in human history. Of course, the Autobots always end up on the winning end, even though Bumblebee had to temporarily fight off against an evil Optimus Prime.
Directors: Michael Bay— Screenplay: Art Marcum, Matt Holloway, Ken Nolan— Cast: Mark Wahlberg, Josh Duhamel, Anthony Hopkins, Laura Haddock, Isabela Merced, Santiago Cabrera, Stanley Tucci, Gemma Chan, John Turturro — Run Time: 2h 34m