Left to right: Hailee Steinfeld as Charlie and Bumblebee in BUMBLEBEE from Paramount Pictures. Image Credit: AP

Ahead of the release of the sixth film in the ‘Transformers’ franchise, Gulf News tabloid! answers all those burning questions with a crash course on the history of the Autobots and the Decepticons, along with the origins of the loveable clunk of metal known as Bumblebee.

Who or what are the Transformers?

The story is as old as the first Transformers themselves, ever-changing with each cinematic outing. However, if you skipped the childhood playing with these Hasboro toys or missed out on the cartoon series, then the best forgotten Mark Wahlberg-led ‘The Last Knight’ (2017) made a feeble attempt to explain the origins by unspooling Quintessa’s tale. She is, for all intents and purposes, a space sorceress, who claims she created Cybertron, the home planet of the alien race known as the Transformers.

But wait, didn’t the movies discuss another creator?

Well, yes. The movies, the comics and the animated versions did play along with the Transformers Primus theory. Primus used the aid of the Matrix (nothing to do with Keanu Reeves) to bring a Transformer to life. However, the films refer to this mystical artefact as the AllSpark, a cube that wields the power to create life.

However, if you tuned into ‘Transformers: Age of Extinction’, the Creators theory was also floated. Apparently 65 million years ago, it wasn’t the Big Bang but the alien race known as the Creators who invaded Earth, killed all life on the planet with ‘Seeds’ and similarly formed thousands of planets, including Cybertron.

Why do their nuts and bolts channel so much negative energy towards Earth?

The Transformers cinematic universe has declared Earth as public enemy number one of Cybertron. Apparently, several millennia ago, the planet that’s home to the Autobots and the Decepticons had an ancient beef against the Unicorn.

No, this wasn’t a character from My Little Pony, but, as The Last Knight narrated, was actually the ancient name for Earth (we couldn’t make this up even if we tried).

However, to confuse viewers even further, the film’s post-credit scene showed a raging Quintessa refer to the Unicorn as a ‘he’ who doesn’t like being touched. If you follow the origin stories, an all powerful entity called ‘The One’ created Primus first, along with his evil twin, the Unicorn. You see where this is going. Unicorn, ultimately, found his way to Earth. Quintessa — in the closing scene of ‘The Last Knight’ — takes on a human form and schemes to harness Unicorn’s power to resurrect Cybertron, which was destroyed during the alien war.

How powerful is this Quintessa?

While her origin story has yet to flash across our screens, history narrates that this powerful being had 12 Guardian Knights at her beck and call until they uncovered her nefarious intentions. To save the universe from her treacherous plans, the Knights hid her power wielding staff on Earth.

While this parallel story played out, were the Transformers partying up on Cybertron?

Not exactly. The first Transformers film back in 2007 led us into a battle raging between the two factions on Cybertron — namely the Autobots (the good guys) and the Decepticons (the baddies). Optimus Prime, the leader of the Autobots, was seen trying to keep the AllSpark from falling into the hands of Megatron, the de facto dictator of the Decepticons. To save it from Megatron’s metallic clutches, Optimus threw the AllSpark into space, which ultimately crashed down on Earth.

Chasing it through time and space, Megatron ultimately crash-lands into the Arctic Circle around 10,000BC and, well, freezes over. Flash forward to 1850 and explorer Captain Archibald Witwicky unknowingly activates the clunk of metal. Megatron ends up engraving the AllSpark’s location into Witwicky’s glasses.

Quintessa with Optimus Prime, leader of the Autobots. Optimus is expected to appear in ‘Bumblebee’. Image Credit: Supplied

Jump another hundred years and Archibald’s great, great grandson Sam Witwicky (Shia LaBeouf) unwittingly locates those very glasses and activates the transmission. Meanwhile, unbeknownst to Sam, Optimus Prime’s trusted lieutenant Bumblebee has been assigned to protect the AllSpark. To keep the location safe, Bumblebee inserts himself into Sam’s life by transforming into a Chevrolet Camaro.

But where is Quintessa’s staff in all this?

‘The Last Knight’ attempted to tie up loose ends but ended up creating a convoluted plot that left many scratching their heads.

The film journeyed back to AD484 to King Arthur of Camelot, who is seen in the midst of a bloody war against the Saxons. Merlin, we learn, was no magician in the Transformers universe but an ally who was protecting a group of Transformers hiding on Earth.

To help King Arthur win the war, the Transformers hand over Quintessa’s staff to Merlin, who rides in on a metallic dinosaur and ultimately turns the tide of the battle. But the Transformers warn Merlin that a great evil will come for the staff, thus giving rise to the Order of the Witwiccans.

The Order of what?

The Witwiccans were the original protectors of Earth, formed after the defeat of the Saxons. After Merlin died, the staff was entombed with him with the Knights (the Transformers) keeping watch over him. Down the generations, the organisation grew much like the Illuminati, with famous individuals such as Queen Victoria, Leornardo Da Vinci and Archibald Witwicky sworn to protect it from alien races and plotters like the Sector 7.

Who are the Sector 7?

The First Seven, referred to in the previous Transformers films, located the AllSpark back in 1913 and gave rise to the Sector 7. By 1927, it had transformed into a secret government agency commissioned to harness the power of the AllSpark and weed out wayward Transformers.

The AllSpark was later moved to the organisation’s headquarters in Hoover Dam, which also became the de fact home of the frozen Megatron before he was awakened in 2007.

How does Bumblebee play into all of this?

If there is one character that has outlived all the famous Autobots, Decepticons and the Earthlings put together through the Transformers film franchise, it's Bumblebee.

A still from ‘Bumblebee' Image Credit: Supplied

While we first saw him back in 2007 in the form of a dilapidated Chevrolet Camaro, hidden on Earth to protect the AllSpark and ultimately Sam Witwicky, it was only after watching ‘The Last Knight’ did we get a glimpse into his past.

Bumblebee, we learn, had enlisted in the US Army Air Force to fight the Nazis during the Second World War. He loses his voice due to a war injury (perhaps at the hands of Hitler’s cronies) and ends up taking the form of a Volkswagen Beetle.

Wait a minute, if Bumblebee was in the US Army, why was its government so surprised to see the Transformers in the first film?

Don’t ask questions that even franchise creator Michael Bay may not have answers for. What we can tell you is that Bumblebee’s origin story will perhaps go towards explaining how the yellow ray of sunshine lost his voice in the first place.

The new film focuses on Bumblebee’s friendship with a teenage girl named Charlie Watson (Hailee Steinfeld), in addition to battling baddies from Sector 7 and going up against Decepticon operatives Blitzwing, Shatter and Dropkick.

Don’t miss it!

Bumblebee is out in the UAE from December 20.