The Unanswered Question at the Heart of 'Transformers: The Last Knight'

TRANSFORMERS: THE LAST KNIGHT Still 18 - Publicity - H 2017
Courtesy of Paramount Pictures
Is there a secret threat under the surface of the latest 'Transformers' movie?

[Warning: This story contains spoilers for Paramount's Transformers: The Last Knight.]

When the first trailer for Transformers: The Last Knight was released, one shot in particular raised the question of whether or not a cinematic Unicron was about to be introduced to the franchise. With the movie now in theaters, audiences have an answer to that question … kind of.

Turns out, Unicron wasn't just in The Last Knight, but has actually been in the entire series to date … because Unicron is the Transformers' name for Earth. You could be forgiven for wondering why this was never mentioned in any of the four previous installments of the series, if it wasn't for the fact that this was obviously a new invention for this movie, and something that either lays the groundwork for a surprising reveal in a future movie, or rewrites Transformers mythology significantly.

Traditionally, Unicron not only isn't Earth, but it's not actually a planet at all. Instead, the concept, first introduced in 1986's animated Transformers: The Movie, was something that originally looked like a planet, but turned out to be a massive Transformer himself. The exact backstory of Unicron in multiple versions of Transformers mythology has often shifted — is he a cosmic force representing evil itself, created at the dawn of time, or an equal-and-opposite counterpart to Primus, the creator of all Transformers, birthed by a God-like being called "The One"? Depending on whether you watched specific cartoons or read particular comics, the answer to both could be "yes" — but his modus operandi has always been the same: He's the most giant of all the robots, who sometimes turns into something that looks like a planet, and intends to destroy all the Transformers. He is, for want of a better way to put it, the ultimate bad guy.

In The Last Knight, though, that would appear not to be the case; in the cinematic mythology, Unicron is the name given to the ancient enemy of Cybertron, the Transformers' home world … which just so happens to be Earth.

That brings with it all kinds of questions. (Does this explain why the Transformers came to Earth in the first place? What about the Creators, and "Transformium," the alloy that was planted on Earth millennia in the past; was Earth created specifically to be a trap for Transformers? And, for that matter, how can a planet be an ancient enemy of anyone or anything? It's a planet.) It also, apparently, means that the movie Unicron is very different from the Unicron of all other Transformers stories. Perhaps.

There is, after all, a post-credit scene that suggests that Unicron/Earth isn't exactly what everyone thinks after all. When Quintessa shows up, she even says that "he" doesn't like to be touched, when referring to one of the new structures that appeared on Earth during the movie.

Add two more questions to the Last Knight's Unicron reveal, in that case — one that isn't likely to be answered until Transformers 6, whenever that happens: Is Earth not actually a planet at all, but instead a giant robot in disguise? And if so, what exactly does that mean for all the life on Earth, should Unicron decide to transform?

As cliffhangers go, it's certainly more than meets the eye. Transformers: The Last Knight is in theaters now.