In 1986's The Transformers: The Movie, just before he died, Optimus Prime passed the Matrix of Leadership to Ultra Magnus, and by the end, it was obtained by the young and brash Hot Rod (who voiced by The Breakfast Club's Judd Nelson) and uses it to become the new leader of the Autobots, taking the Rodimus Prime moniker, and defeating Galvatron and Unicron.
For fans not expecting Optimus to be killed off in the film, especially not that early, and a new Autobot leader installed, Hot Rod has been considered a divisive character -- though fans have softened their stance over the decades.
Hot Rod is returning to the big screen, making his first appearance in Michael Bay's cinematic universe, in Transformers: The Last Knight. He's playing an covert Autobot agent that has been secretly serving as Viviane Wembly's (Laura Haddock) protector, disguising himself as her father's 1963 Citroën DS. Her father happens to be astronomer Sir Edmund Burton, who is played by Sir Anthony Hopkins.
"It’s a rickety old thing, but she can’t part with it because she adores it," Haddock said of the Hot Rod's vehicle mode (via EW). "This car has actually been put there to watch her and feedback information to Anthony Hopkins’s character about what she’s up to and her life. So yeah, she gets kind of taken [by surprise] in a really funny, dramatic way by this Hot Rod."
While the revelation, at first, frightens her, it also helps bring the father and daughter closer together. "She’s not had a very good relationship with her father," Haddock shared, "but this is one thing that her father has done that makes her realize that maybe he cared than she thought."
Transformers: The Last Knight shatters the core myths of the Transformers franchise, and redefines what it means to be a hero. Humans and Transformers are at war, Optimus Prime is gone. The key to saving our future lies buried in the secrets of the past, in the hidden history of Transformers on Earth. Saving our world falls upon the shoulders of an unlikely alliance: Cade Yeager (Wahlberg); Bumblebee; an English Lord (Hopkins); and an Oxford Professor (Haddock).
The cast of Transformers: The Last Knight features Mark Wahlberg (Planet of the Apes) as Cade Yeager, Isabela Moner (100 Things To Do Before High School) as Izabella, Josh Duhamel (Life as We Know It) as Lieutenant Colonel William Lennox, John Turturro (The Big Lebowski) as Seymour Simmons, and Tyrese Gibson (Furious 7) as Robert Epps, as well as Jerrod Carmichael (Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising), Anthony Hopkins (Thor: The Dark World). The voice cast includes Peter Cullen as Optimus Prime and John Goodman (10 Cloverfield Lane) as Hound.
There comes a moment in everyone’s life when we are called upon to make a difference. In Transformers: The Last Knight, the hunted will become heroes. Heroes will become villains. Only one world will survive: theirs, or ours.
Michael Bay will return to direct. Transformers: The Last Knight opens in theaters on June 23, 2017.