In a time before men flew across the sky in suits of Iron, audiences were captivated by an alien invasion. The connective universes found in something like the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) has no doubt changed the way we will experience film forever. But what are the ground stones that built the MCU from nothing into an empire? Director Michael Bay pioneered the modern age of cinema with his live-action adaptation of the 1980s TV Show Transformers, more so than Producer Kevin Feige with the MCU. To prove this, we will see how each Transformers film influenced the MCU head-on.
What was once viewed as a time waster, waiting for a tease for the next project by sitting through the credits for an end credit scene is now a formality. A year before Iron Man teased the possibility of a superhero team-up movie, Transformers credits showed Starscream heading off into space to find The Fallen, who was the villain in the direct sequel. There is only 1 MCU movie that does not feature an End Credit Scene.
Seeing the events of a bombastic narrative following alien robots that turn into cars with the use of parallel story structure can be seen in each Avengers film. Parallel story structure is when the script cuts between an A, and B plot, most times converting at the end or at least showing how one plot affects the other. The utilization of this in Transformers is extremely well executed, we see the events of the film from the perspectives of a regular kid Sam Witwicky, the military through the eyes of Captain Lennox, and the Government through Defense Secretary John Keller. The Avengers movies, as well as Guardians of the Galaxy Vol.2, Captain America: Civil War, and Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness all employ this screenwriting technique set by Transformers.
Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (2009)
Revenge of the Fallen is not the most rewatchable in the franchise, but someone at Marvel must have felt differently. Fallen sees the Decepticons win at the beginning with the death of Optimus Prime, and Sam Witwicky on the hunt for an ancient Transformers relic called the Matrix of Leadership, which holds the ability to revive any ‘fallen’ Transformer. The idea of killing off your heroes and bringing them back with epic music to boot was ramped up to 100, as Avengers: Infinity War and Endgame use this as their main focal points.
While awesome, both Infinity War and Endgame have to live with the fact that their storylines had been done before in a movie that was filmed, in majority, without a script during the 2008 writers’ strike, which is pretty Impressive as Optimus Prime still gives an awesome speech.
Transformers: Dark of the Moon (2011)
The entire 3rd act from Dark of the Moon itself has become a trope in many Marvel films, but The Avengers (2012) has too many visual similarities for it to be a mere coincidence. There are unquestionably different elements copied from Moon for its Battle of Chicago, that were pasted directly into Avengers for the Battle of New York.
As shown in the gallery of photos, (which have not been labeled to make the point you probably can’t tell the difference) both scenes have the villains apply technology that uses a big blue beam of light shooting toward the sky. As well as having enemy designs that mirror one another, specifically the massive ships that fly around each city.
The fact that Moon and Avengers are only 1 year apart brings up too many questions about the originality of the finale, for the ladder feature. Paying homage to ideas from other films you love is fine when done correctly, but here, Avengers‘ 3rd act seems as if it was more focused on how to make the most amount of money instead of adding something new to the table. Ironic, as many people considered the first assembly of heroes of the MCU the reason for the popularity of the genre today.
Transformers Age of Extinction (2014)
‘The one with Marky Mark,’ brought a new era to the “robotic” formula of the franchise. The government decides that because of the destruction caused by their efforts to save the world, good or bad, all Transformers are deemed a threat. They even have their own version of Transformers which the government prefers because they can control them. The plot of Captain America: Civil War follows this exact basic outline to a T. The only difference is instead of new superheroes, the United Nations create the Sokovia Accords, which state that the Avengers are under the direct control of a United Nations panel. Aside from the MCU, this idea is also shown in Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice, which came out the same year as Civil War.
2017’s Transformers: The Last Knight has only one connection to the MCU, specifically Phase 4, both are derailed from what made their predecessors so successful and fun, forgetting the identity that drove millions to the theaters. We arrive at the movie theater in a unique period of film in which no genre is in complete control. What started as an idea to bring together a group of remarkable people, has turned off the GPS and is slowly realizing that it’s lost.
The MCU has made more money and had more critical and audience approval, but after examining the facts above, the truth becomes clear. No “Genius, billionaire, playboy, philanthropist,” can influence those behind the camera in the way that leader of the Autobots Optimus Prime, can give a speech.
*As of “Transformers Is The Most Influential Franchise in Modern Hollywood History” being published, I have officially been posting articles on MooCow Entertainment for 2 years. I hope I’ve been able to add different view points on topics in the entertainment industry. I really enjoy writing here, and still have no plans to stop! Thank You!*