What Happened the First Time 'Transformers' Plunged Into Arthurian Myth

With rumors linking next year's big-screen 'The Last Knight' to medieval English mythology, revisit the original meeting between robots in disguise and men in heavy chain-mail armor.
Dreamworks/Paramount

If rumors and reports are to be believed, the next Transformers movie, Transformers: The Last Knight, will center on the previously unknown connection between giant alien robots from the planet Cybertron and the mythical court of fifth century English monarch King Arthur. As strange as it may seem, this won't be the first time the two have crossed over — although it will be the first time Arthur has felt safe to discard a disguise.

While there doesn't seem to be an obvious connection between the two — barring Arthur's ability to change himself into a massive truck, an anachronism that only would add to the fearsomeness of his shapechanging, according to historical texts — it's possible to see echoes of Arthurian legend in Transformers mythology, whether intentional or otherwise.

After all, the Matrix of Leadership could be considered a stand-in for the Holy Grail in certain lights; an object that confers certain aspects of leadership and strength to its owner, and Optimus Prime is as surrounded by heroic friends and colleagues just as Arthur was, even if it's hard to identify a Merlin-esque mentor immediately. (Whether this makes Megatron into Mordred is open to question.)

It's possible that these parallels were in the minds of those behind "A Decepticon Raider in King Arthur's Court," an episode of the original Transformers animated series that aired in 1985. After rolling into a 20th century American cave at the opening of the episode, Autobots and Decepticons alike emerged in sixth century England, where they met Arthur and his round table … kind of. For some reason — fear of an uprising of Arthurian scholars, perhaps — the mythical heroes all featured new names: King Arthur was, amazingly, Sir Aetheling, Merling was Beorht, and so on.

Nonetheless, the ersatz Arthur teamed with the Autobots to fight off a partnership between faux Mordred (who went by the astounding name "Sir Wigend" in the episode) and the Decepticons, with the conflict resolved via jousting and dragons, as all conflicts were in sixth century England. The collective Transformers made their way back to their proper era, and no one was the wiser.

Oddly enough, this wasn't the only medieval England story from Transformers lore in 1985; the British Transformers comic ran a four-part story at the start of that year featuring a lost Transformer wandering the England of the 11th century — too late for Arthur to defend the kingdom, but precisely the time when the Arthurian myth truly flourished.

What will end up connecting the contemporary world of Bay's cinematic Transformers and King Arthur in next year's The Last Knight remains a mystery for now, but we can only hope that it involves at least a cameo appearance from Sir Wigend at some point — preferably leading the army of dragons that have been teased in promotional images.

Transformers: The Last Knight will be released June 23, 2017.

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