From Decepticons To Crossovers, ‘Rise of the Beast’ Filmmakers Says Anything Is Possible For ‘Transformers’ Franchise

** Warning: This press conference contains spoilers for Transformers: Rise of the Beasts. Read at your own risk. **

The thing about expanding a franchise is that there are certain rules to follow. Timelines and continuity are of utmost importance, especially when there are spin-offs and a sprawling history that runs all the way back to the 80s. Plus, there’s only so much filmmakers can milk from existing characters. 

Thankfully, that’s not a problem for Transformers producer Lorenzo di Bonaventura and director Steven Caple Jr. for the franchise’s latest entry, Transformers: Rise of the Beasts, at the recent global premiere of the film in Singapore.

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For starters, Bonaventura sets the record straight – Rise of the Beasts is a sequel, not a franchise reboot. To be even more specific, it is a sequel to Travis Knight’s Bumblebee starring Hailee Steinfeld. 

“It’s a sequel!” confirmed Bonaventura as Caple Jr. and the cast laughed at the simplicity in his answer. 

“You look at it from a timeline point of view, it follows Bumblebee, but it is a prequel, and that is before all the previous films so it sort of exists in its own way, but I don’t think it is a reboot, because it is it still our characters,” affirmed the producer. 

“One of the things that Steven brought to the table right from the beginning, which was so great was the idea that when we meet Optimus Prime, he’s different than what we think of him and we’re watching him before he was a leader. And for me, that was one of the most exciting parts of the movie. What was interesting was watching it with audiences and at first, they were uncomfortable a little bit like ‘Wait, that’s not exactly the Optimus. He should like humans!’ so I think it gives the movie a really interesting point of view and therefore, stands alone that way.”

Rise of the Beasts took audiences back to the year 1994 while Bumblebee was set seven years before that in 1987. In Bumblebee, an 18-year-old Charlie Watson (Steinfeld) discovers the beloved yellow and black Autobot Bumblebee, battle-scarred and broken. The two grow a strong friendship over the course of the movie and sees Bumblebee reunited with Optimus Prime once again after the leader manages to escape Cybertron. And while Rise of the Beasts is Bumblebee’s sequel, Charlie doesn’t return… for now. 

“We actually for a moment had a scene where we brought Charlie in at the end but again, it started feeling like we had too much and it felt like it we were trying to force it in. She (Steinfeld) was great, she was great to work with. I think it’s too early to say what we would but we’d love to have her back because she did a phenomenal job for us and she’s such a great actress,” explained Bonaventura on Steinfeld’s non-appearance. 

“And I think what would be interesting is she would be now an adult so it would be very different character in a way, what would you do with her? So I think that would be the interesting, creative thing to discuss from our side it’s ‘Okay, what’d she do after she got to know Bumblebee so well?’ Would she go off and become a scientist because of that experience? You know, would she work for Cyber- who knows? But I think we can pretty much go in a lot of new directions with her and that’s what’s exciting.” 

Franchise newcomer Caple Jr. added, “Basically anything is possible. Door is open for sure. I love Hailee’s character Charlie so much and it’s like if we do bring her back, it has to be right.” 

As the title suggests, Rise of the Beasts will be debuting the characters made popular in the Transformers: Beasts Wars animated series – the Maximals. Fans can expect to see Optimus Primal (Ron Perlman), Airazor (Michelle Yeoh), Cheetor (Tongayi Chirisa) and Rhinox (David Sobolov) make their live-action debut and as a Beast Wars fan, introducing the Maximals was one of the elements Caple Jr. was most exciting to bring on for Rise of the Beasts. 

“I think it was creating the Maximals into Beast Wars. We spent a lot of time on our designs and to be able to like leave a print in a franchise and say ‘Okay, we’re taking the Beast Wars, these Maximals, that everyone loves and now bring them to live action for the first time,’ so really dive deep into their design, really dive deep into their personalities, and even of course, their likability and traits when they’re fighting in a choreography – that’s probably my favourite part,” shared Caple Jr. 

rise of the beasts

Producer Bonaventura couldn’t agree more. Despite producing and releasing seven Transformers movies thus far, Bonaventura is always excited to bring more characters to the screen. The producer admits that debuting all characters at once won’t be a good idea for the story though. 

“What’s great about Transformers is there are so many characters, there are so many things and actually the hard part is resisting putting all of it in because what happens when you put all of it in – and we’ve definitely been guilty of that before – is nobody gets enough time. So I think what the process will be is trying to figure out okay, now we have these Maximals, now we have our Transformers, now we have our human characters, what else can you actually juggle?” said Bonaventura.

Speaking of human characters, Rise of the Beasts also introduces new human characters, played by series newcomers Anthony Ramos, Dominique Fishback and Tobe Nwigwe, with Ramos taking the lead as Noah Diaz, an ex-soldier who helps the Autobots take on planet-eating Unicron alongside the Maximals. And in a history of robots and humans, this film also marks the first time a human in the Transformers live-action movies dons an exosuit, much like the one Spike Witwicky wore in 1986’s animated The Transformers: The Movie. That film also saw the debut of Unicron.

“Feels great. It’s legendary, man. We don’t get to see the humans get in the action ever so now we do, in a real way,” said Ramos when asked about wearing the Exosuit for the first time. “It was 100% a leotard with dots. Yeah, yeah, absolutely, absolutely full foam. It was not heavy and it was great. It was very comfortable.” 

Caple Jr. added, “In terms of that – the Exosuit – well, there’s always humans here. How do they get involved within the battle in a fight? Again, I go back to the phrase ‘Till all are one’. They have a human actually transform now and like be a Transformer has not been done since the cartoon animation. Those were two major things and of course, the ending that we’ve been kind of looping and talking about and the direction of where the franchise can go. I have a few ideas. There are a few characters I would love to bring back but in our form too, as well.” 

A character the director is keen to bring back? In Transformers lore, One shall stand, one shall fall and in this timeline, the villainous Megatron, who was a central villain in the Michael Bay-directed films, is still around. Somewhere. 

In addition to Megatron, the geeky director would love to explore more of the worlds presented in the early Transformers comics and bring them to live-action too. 

“I mean, there’s a major villain that we all know and love and I’m curious of where he’s at – that’s one thing. And then the other is one big thing for me is we’re here on Earth a lot, right? And I feel like there’s just a huge universe. If any of you guys read the comic book, especially the Japanese versions of the comic, there’s a big world out there. There’s different planets out there and we tap into that at the very beginning of this film, and I was like I just want to introduce the idea that there’s so much more to explore – the universe is huge,” said Caple Jr. 

The universe of Transformers is indeed incredibly huge and what many won’t know – unless they are, as Caple Jr. has mentioned, long-time fans – is that the Transformers universe has had crossovers with another popular Hasbro property – of the All-American Heroes, G.I. Joe. 

The Autobots and Joes met several times in different comic series, from the first time in 1986’s G.I. Joe and the Transformers, and G.I. Joes vs the Transformers in 2004 amongst many others. And while the Transformers have yet to meet the Joes in live action just yet, Caple Jr. and Bonaventura is setting things in motion in Rise of the Beasts. 


In the movie’s ending, Noah finds himself in the secret lair of the Joes after battling alongside the Autobots and Maximals in Peru. We never saw any noticeable Joes in the scene, but it was enough to hint that the Joes are aware of the Transformers’ presence and that its only a matter of time before the worlds would cross over. 

“What’s interesting is we have debated it for a long time and there was never the occasion where it felt like a natural thing to try to evolve into. It always felt like ‘yeah, that’s a cool idea… but it’s feeling like you’re forcing it’,” said Bonaventura. 

“Steven came forward and was immediately pushing in that direction and thankfully, the movie really sort of led us to a nice way to bring it together. I don’t think we’re going to reveal much about what we’re going to do but for sure it’s going to play a part in the next movie. It’s too good and the audience reaction has been really gratifying.” 

Transformers: Rise of the Beasts rolls out on 8 June 2023.