"I remember of the Decepticons, there were three jet fighters. So I had to come up with names that evoked power, menace, insanity, danger, evil – so I came up with Starscream, Skywarp and Thundercracker." - Bob Budiansky
"Megatron – I had to fight for that one. Hasbro initially turned it down because they felt it was too scary, because back in the 1980s, megatons meant nuclear bombs and had a very scary connotation, which was my intent. So when Hasbro turned it down, I realized it’s Hasbro’s product, they can do whatever they want. I’m the new guy, they don’t know me. On other occasions, they turned down names, but with Megatron, I felt it had a nice ring to it and I fought for it. They said it was too scary and I said, well, he is the head of the bad guys, he’s supposed to be scary. So they reconsidered." - Bob Budiansky
We’re doing this big scene where we’re all about to jump for our lives from this thing, and we’re strapped tandem-style with parachutes. Mark is attached to Laura Haddock — his love interest in the movie — and then there’s me and Santiago Cabrera attached to each other, and I’m tandem-ing him down because he’s injured,” the actor explains. “Wahlberg comes up just before we start — before [Michael] Bay says, ‘Action’ — he goes, ‘Hey, are you guys tandem-ing together?’ I go, ‘Yeah.’ He goes, ‘Oh, so it’s like a love story.’ I was like, ‘Son of a *****. You get the girl [and] you’re making fun of me and Santiago over here because we’re tandem-ing.
“I thought, ‘This guy’s a genius, he really is,‘” Hopkins told Yahoo Movies (watch above) last week at CinemaCon about his impression of Bay after meeting the director over breakfast to discuss the project. “He’s the same ilk as Oliver Stone and [Steven] Spielberg and [Martin] Scorsese. Brilliance. Savants, really, they are. He’s a savant.”
In Last Knight, Hopkins, 79, stars opposite the returning Mark Wahlberg as Sir Edmund Burton, an astronomer and historian who lives with Autobots on a sprawling British countryside estate.
"The first few drafts of the script are usually in longhand – I have a tower of notebooks full of my barely legible handwriting. I refine the dialog when typing everything up, and then edit it all again by hand" - James Roberts
"Anode, being a totally new character – and someone who was unfamiliar with our regulars and their backstory ... I wanted a driven, funny, independent, ebullient, cheeky new character, with a unique set of skills.” - James Roberts
Epic Redesigns: Retrofitting Starscream & Blur into “Robots In Disguise”
Tapping into the rich history of Transformers lore, famed G1 Decepticon, Starscream, and heroic Autobot, Blur, are getting a Robots In Disguise overhaul. So what exactly went into detailing these classic characters? We went right to the source for the answers—Hasbro Senior Product Designer on Transformers, Sean Carmine Isabella.
About the Designer:
Designing many of his favorite childhood characters, Isabella builds new play experiences for the next generation of thinkers and explorers. Before he worked on heroic robots battling the forces of evil, Sean designed toys for brands such as Littlest Pet Shop, Easy Bake Oven, and FurReal Friends.
So, why Starscream?
“Being an ‘80s kid, the idea of high flying fighter jets always sparked my imagination. No one encapsulated this for the Deceptions better than Starscream. Drawing jets and spaceships is something of a hobby for me so getting the opportunity to work on reimagining a classic character, (and a jet no less!) was a dream come true.”
What elements of the G1 Starscream sculpt inspired this redesign?
“We wanted to hold onto certain iconic design traits to maintain his epic look—such as his chest exhaust design, graphic pattern on his wing, his overall color scheme, and his twin null ray blasters.”
What was your motivation behind Blur’s build?
“Blur’s a fast talking, speed loving Autobot. We wanted his design to evoke the same sense of speed to be true to the core of the character.”
Was there a specific G1 element you focused on keeping or updating?
“We looked at his classic Cybertronian mode that debuted in the 1986 film and reimagined how this vehicle mode would exist in a modern Earth setting.”
The GI connections certainly don’t stop with these bots. Tune in to Transformers: Robots In Disguise to find out if some of your favorites are getting a modern makeover.
Aaron Long: Revolution merged the Hasbro properties into a shared universe, with Revolutionaries now spinning out of the event. What will readers be seeing in this series?
John Barber: Lots of fast-paced action and big world-building. The Revolutionaries team is made up of Mayday (who’s a G.I. Joe agent), Kup and Blackrock (who are Transformers), and Action Man (who’s English). So they’re already kinda all over the place to start with, but right off the bat they have to team up with Rom and the Micronauts to fight the Oktober Guard and the new Storm Shadow. Nothing’s off the table!
So we’ll be seeing big crossovers between characters, plus we’ll be going all over the world. If you’re a fan of the Hasbro characters—from the comics or the toys or the cartoons—there will be little nods, or returns to places and ideas from all over. Remember when Cobra had a base on the moon? We do. And we’re trying to pull in things from all over the history of the characters—like, I don’t know if anybody was expecting the Sgt. Savage and his Screaming Eagles relaunch of G.I. Joe, but that stuff plays a role.
If you’re not familiar with this weird stuff, no worries—we’re introducing all these ideas, not expecting you’re an expert. But that said, we’ve done our homework.
AL: The ongoing cast consists of Action Man, Blackrock, Mayday and Kup. Can you dis-cuss how this mix of characters was decided upon to anchor the title?
JB: At the Revolution writer’s retreat, Cullen Bunn suggested that since Action Man’s comic was a limited series, he’d be without a home post-Revolution. (Action Man, not Cullen, who has a nice home). So it might be good to have A.M. looking over what everybody else was doing—like, his mandate might be to monitor everybody worldwide. And Mairghread Scott sort of riffed on that that you could do with it, suggested it could be a little like Global Frequency and have self-contained stories about this world. And I wound up getting elected to write it because I’d done Action Man and sort of knew a lot about where the universe was going. (In the comics, I mean. Certainly not in real life).
So, I thought if we made this a team with Action Man, really gave this a different feel, it’d be a good fit to add the Transformers character Blackrock, who’d just be coming out of the Titans Return story. Blackrock is a tech-CEO who discovered his memories were false and he’s a Cybertronian. He’s Cybertronian, but his alt-mode is basically a human.
I knew we’d want somebody from G.I. Joe, but I suggested we could sort of push things here and use this to develop a new character, or anyway to build up a character Andrew Griffith and I had set up in Transformers, but who’d now be in G.I. Joe. We gave Anya Jones the semi-obscure out-of-use Joe code-name of Mayday, and she’s become sort of the leader of the team—Action Man is still new to the job; Blackrock is new to this life; so Mayday has the experi-ence with aliens and military tactics.
Kup was originally going somewhere else, or so I thought, but then it turned out Kup wasn’t really going to fit into that other series, and I thought he was too good a character to lose track of, but he wasn’t really essential to what Kei Zama and I were going to do in the Optimus Prime comic… but with about a half-second’s thought, I realized Kup’s an old soldier, and the idea of getting him together with this young, mostly-inexperienced team was just the thing Revolutionaries needed.
FO: Well, when I came on board the cast was already set. And I think they picked a great set of characters. Plus it feels a lot more tightknit and relatable than Revolution. Working on a smaller cast allows us to develop these characters more, and John is writing them awesomely. For my part, I focused on working more detail into their design. I got the chance to redesign Blackrock and it´s definitely a new look for the character, closer to his cybetronian nature. And well… I got carried away and kept going with Mayday: new armor suit! We did keep her hairstyle though… Nah, in all seriousness I wanted them to look the part of a lead character. Action Man´s design was pretty awesome already.
AL: Fico, with Revolution and now Revolutionaries you’ve penciled the vast majority of Hasbro characters. Are there any particular characters or a particular group that you get the most excited to work on?
FO: Well… It´s hard not to get excited to draw Blackrock with the new design. I also enjoy drawing Mayday a lot. I really feel it´s important to have a strong female character, and I very much love paying attention to every detail on how we portray her to reinforce that. She rocks.
Action Man has the best lines, John is really bringing life to all these characters so it’s hard not to enjoy drawing all these characters.
And lastly, I´m always exited to see them pop out of the pages with Seba’s colors. He is doing a fantastic job, as always.
Bob Budiansky [...]
A lot of the names came from my own experiences of pop culture. Ratchet, a medical robot, was inspired by Nurse Ratched from the film One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. Ironhide came from the old TV show Ironside. I was trying to humanise them, give them relatable qualities, such as “this guy likes jazz”. People ask how I came up with so many personalities in a weekend, but at Marvel we were creating new characters every day. That was the job.
One name I’m proud of is Megatron. Back in 1983, the threat of nuclear war felt very real – and destructive force was talked about in megatons. At first, Hasbro rejected it for sounding too scary. Gently I said to them: “Well, he’s the main bad guy. He’s supposed to be scary.” Luckily, they changed their minds.
Bryce Malek [...]
Some writers pitched really inappropriate stuff for a kids’ show, such as the Transformers meeting space prostitutes. Oddly enough, no one ever provided us with any of the toys – we worked from photocopies of designs. I actually went out and bought a few but I never got Optimus Prime. He was too popular. You could never find one.
Since 2015, Oscar-winning screenwriter Akiva Goldsman has become a big name in the world of cinematic universe franchises. In collaboration with Paramount Pictures, he not only created a braintrust that would help formulate the future of the Transformers series, but also went on to do the same thing with Hasbro and brands like G.I. Joe and ROM: Space Knight. We haven't seen an actual product from this process just yet, as none of the developing projects have made it to release -- but the methodology is continuing to spread, as the same approach that's going into the construction of the recently-announced Extreme Cinematic Universe.
[Liefeld:] So I kind of was thinking, 'I'm going to go to this meeting and maybe I'll get a good look at some Dark Tower stuff,' and what ended up happening is he goes, 'I want to hand you this giant black leather-bound equivalent of a phone book,' and it said, "The Transformers Bible." This thing is awesome and Akiva goes, 'I just want you to know, there's only eight of these in existence. Michael Bay has one, I have one, the head of Paramount has one, and the five other people involved have them.' So I flipped through it, and it's every treatment, outlines, screenplay, for the lineup of Transformer films that they have planned, that he was a showrunner for...
So he said to me, he said, 'It's pretty cool, right? I'm like, 'Yeah!' He's like, 'I ran this room; this is what we came up with. This is what I did on behalf of Paramount.' He goes, 'In a couple months, I'm going to go run the Hasbro room, and we're going to do the same thing for ROM, Micronauts, G.I. Joe. We're going to put together this Hasbro Cinematic Universe, and then he said, I would like to do yours next. And I said, 'Uhhhhhh, Okay, WOW!'
In between getting to see Bay work up close for the first time and watching tons of explosions and gunfire, I was able to participate in a group interview with producer Lorenzo di Bonaventura.
During an extended conversation with one of the few people that’s been involved in all the Transformers movies besides Michael Bay, he revealed how The Last Knight came together, how the film explores the Transformers mythology, what’s different about this sequel, how they determine which characters to include, if they listen to the fans when making the films, future sequels, the status of the Bumblebee spinoff, if people need to have seen the first four installments to understand The Last Knight, how Grimlock plays a larger role, their relationship with Hasbro, and so much more. If you’re a fan of Transformers, I promise you’ll love this interview because it’s loaded with info. Check out what he had to say below.
Are there direct connections, though, that you would see to the Bumblebee spin-off of things in this movie? Does this set things up?
Di Bonaventura: Sometimes is the answer. It’s not always, because I think then it feels like you’re really trying to widget it all together, and it becomes a little too neat. But I think–I don’t think, I know–some of the things will have a very direct relationship. You’ll see some things in here that are laying a pipe. You won’t necessarily know that it’s laying a pipe for another movie, but it’s there.
So there’s probably, in a really meaningful way, two or three things in this movie that really have a meaningful aspect in terms of it, and then there’s a bunch of little things. But we’re not making this movie to set up the other movies. That’s what I’m trying to say. If you get too carried away with that, you stop thinking about this movie.
And this movie, the two lines of mythology in a sense give you freedom to go a lot of different places later on that may or may not directly relate to another movie, but it’s opening up the universe in a way that I think, in that way it’s probably the most provocative, in terms of the movie. It’s opening a really large universe of what Transformers is, and where they’ve come from, and how we relate to them, and how they relate to themselves.
I’m curious where you guys are at on the Bumblebee?
Di Bonaventura: It’s being written.
Can you say who the writers are?
Di Bonaventura: Christina Hodson is the writer.
Is there a plan–I think it has a release date, if I’m not mistaken.
Di Bonaventura: I think the Paramount release said ’18. I think it said 2018. I don’t know if they put an actual date, but I believe they–honestly, that release came out about 4 months ago, and all I’m trying to do is get it ready as soon as I can!
Is this one of these movies where–will people have to have seen the first four to enjoy this film?
Di Bonaventura: No, no. That’s another conscious thing. The opening of the film will introduce the sort of exploration of the mythology that we’re going to do. Therefore, it’s not necessary to have seen the films before, because it’s going to establish the–let’s call it the mystery of the movie, and the direction the movie is going to go in.
That was a very conscious attempt, because that’s the other thing you forget as a film maker. Not everybody–you kind of fell like everybody’s seen it, so they can come right along for the ride. So the opening sequence, which is probably–I don’t know, it’s been a while since I counted the pages, but I’ll say ten pages, sets the mystery of the movie, of this movie. If you’ve never seen another Transformers movie, you don’t need to.
Was that Grimlock being more in the film–was that a nod to fans that wanted to see more Dinobots, or more action with the Dinobots?
Di Bonaventura: I think everybody wanted to see more Dinobots, including ourselves, you know what I mean? We all were like god, we wish we could have found a way in that story to include them more. So that was one of the hopes/priorities going into this, was to try to find a way to bring them back into the stories?
So is it more than Grimlock, or mostly Grimlock?
Di Bonaventura: There’s a few others, but Grimlock is, to me–I like Grimlock the most, so that’s probably why I talk the most about it, you know? And I just saw a sequence, so that’s probably why it’s on the top of my head. He’s funny. He’s like a naughty dog in this movie. He’s really sheepish when he does something wrong. He’s a great character. He’s really–we’re bringing out a side of him that you’re going to like–you’re going to relate to.
If you’re introducing a new villain, is Galvatron/Megatron still around? Does he play any role in this?
Di Bonaventura: Yeah, Megatron for sure is around. I mean, are we talking about some of the ones that are…
Staffer: You can talk about some of the new ones.
Di Bonaventura: So if you go back in the mythology, how Transformers were actually created, where did it start, where did they go from being a sort of a slave-race to a sentient race–we’re delving into that aspect of the mythology, so the characters that are involved in there are Megatron before he’s Megatron, Optimus before he’s Optimus, the Librarian, the Quintessons, there’s a whole group of things that have to do with how, in a sense, the Transformers were birthed, and also with how they were divided. What brought up the division, and what were the jealousies involved.
So I think on that level, you’re going to deal with things that feel from a stakes level higher, because of the importance of the sort of thought, right? There’s still, of course, the threat to the world and that sort of threat we have, but I think that threat is amplified now, because you’re going to feel why certain aspects of our world, why we’ve been fighting in a sense.
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