Transformers One Director Teases Optimus Prime Origin Story (Exclusive)

Transformers One is the untold origin story about friends-turned-foes Optimus Prime and Megatron.

Before he carried the Matrix of Leadership as heroic leader of the Autobots, Optimus Prime was worker 'bot Orion Pax. Marvel star Chris Hemsworth (the Thor and Avengers movies) voices the younger Prime-to-be in Paramount and Hasbro's Transformers One, a fully CG-animated origin story set on the planet Cybertron. The prequel takes place before friends-turned-foes Orion Pax and D-16 (Brian Tyree Henry) — the future Megatron — clash in the Great War between the Autobots and Decepticons, which eventually sees the shape-shifting robots roll out on Earth.

"We did our take on the origin, which is still staying true to the lore of Transformers," director Josh Cooley told ComicBook of the first animated Transformers movie in nearly 40 years, adding that the untold origin story is "something we've never seen before on screen."

"I wouldn't say that this is a direct prequel to anything that's been done with live-action ones," Cooley added. "But it's definitely its own story as well."

Along with Hemsworth and Henry as the young Optimus and Megatron, the cast includes Scarlett Johansson (Black Widow) as Ariel/Elita-1; Keegan-Michael Key (Toy Story 4) as B-127/Bumblebee; Jon Hamm (Mad Men) as Sentinel Prime, who inherits the Matrix before Optimus; and Laurence Fishburne (John Wick) as Alpha Trion, the ancient Cybertronian who can be seen giving the young 'bots the ability to transform in the new trailer.


But with great power comes great maturity. As Orion takes his first steps toward becoming the leader of the Autobots, the character will eventually earn the title Optimus Prime — and his iconic faceplate. In an interview with IGN, Cooley explained that Hemsworth's Orion Pax is not yet the gravelly-voiced war general leader of legend voiced by Peter Cullen in the original Transformers animated series and the live-action franchise.

"I think like anybody else, there is a level of maturity that we don't have unless we've gone through something and that Orion Pax is definitely that. He's a character who's driven but maybe doesn't do it in the exact right way at first and he really discovers how to become Optimus and how to earn that," Cooley said. "That was a big thing with working with Chris as well. Chris Hemsworth was like, having an arc to his character that's not just, 'I don't know anything and now I'm the greatest guy in the world.' He has to have more of something that is a little bit of a character flaw that he has to overcome."

At the heart of Transformers One is the relationship between brothers in arms Orion and D-16, who are destined to lead their respective factions — the Autobots and the Decepticons — as Optimus Prime and Megatron.

"We treat them like brothers. They're from the same generation and they have a very tight relationship, like best friends," Cooley said. "Something happens on their planet that they both have two different reactions to. That was important to me is to make sure that Megatron, D-16, didn't come across come across as the villain just because he is the villain. I wanted to go into this pretending you've never seen Transformers before. If you were to watch this movie, you wouldn't know that he's going to become a bad guy. It's just, you're understanding why he's acting the way he does and then you just see this natural split that happens between the two of them, and it is a little bit tragic in a way."

See our guide on everything you need to know about Transformers One before the new movie opens in theaters September 20.