The Transformers universe is full of beloved characters like Bumblebee, Starscream, Jazz, and Soundwave, but you can't mention the franchise without instantly thinking of the Autobots fearless leader Optimus Prime.
After five films, though, Paramount is considering a future that doesn't contain the Transformers icon, and Transformers: The Last Knight is a step in that direction. As you can see in the trailer, Optimus is not on earth at the beginning of the film, and while he does eventually return, it's hard to know when that return comes into play.
Producer Lorenzo di Bonaventura spoke about the direction to Collider.com and that they're toying with in The Last Knight and that this film certainly questions if Optimus will be the leader going forward.
"One of the interesting things is we question whether Optimus would be the leader [in future films]. On that level, we’re already taking a step in that direction. It’s sort of like doing a Batman movie without Batman. I find it hard to see him not being a player in it. Does he have to be the central leader player? No, he doesn’t have to be. He doesn’t have to be, and in this movie, we question it, and he questions it."
The Last Knight also seems to put Optimus in a conflicted role, as at one point he can be seen attacking Bumblebee while saying "forgive me". If he survives, it would be an interesting play to see Bumblebee as the leader of the Autobots with Optimus in a more mentor-like role. There are some no doubt that will object to having a Transformers film without the icon in charge, and it will be interesting to see audiences reactions to his lessened role in The Last Knight.
Transformers: The Last Knight is directed by Michael bay, and stars Mark Wahlberg, Stanley Tucci, Isabela Moner, Josh Duhamel, Tyrese Gibson, John Turturro, Liam Garrigan, Jerrod Carmichael, Mitch Pileggi, Laura Haddock, Santiago Cabrera, and Anthony Hopkins.
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Transformers: The Last Knight is set for release June 23, 2017.