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Transformers: Rise Of The Beasts - The Brutal Optimus Prime Scene That Was Too Dark For Theaters

The "Transformers" franchise has had its share of dark moments over the years. "The Transformers: The Movie" traumatized a whole generation with its depiction of the heroic death of Optimus Prime (Peter Cullen), while viewers of Michael Bay's "Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen" were treated to Fallen being executed by Prime in a manner much less traditionally heroic.

Now, "Transformers: Rise of the Beasts" is in theaters, and if it tends to fall on the lighter side of big-screen "Transformers" adventures, it's not an accident. Director Steven Caple Jr. recently spoke with Collider about a sequence that ended up getting cut out of the movie for being too dark.

"Optimus Prime fights Transit at the beginning of the movie, or at least he used to, and you find out that Optimus Prime wants to go home – that's all he wants to do – and that Cybertron is in deep trouble. And this guy, Transit, was telling him that like, 'We're just here to kill you, a.k.a. Cybertron is already ours,'" said Caple. Maybe a little edgy, but basically typical bad-guy dialogue. But after that, Caple said the scene took a somewhat darker turn: "It was a really epic fight scene, and then you saw Optimus Prime dump his body in the Hudson River, and all these Decepticons were dead and you saw that he's been hunting for the last few years."

Optimus Prime disposing of a Decepticon corpse in the Hudson River would have been a memorable image, but it ended up getting cut out of the movie both because of its tone and in a concerted attempt by the filmmakers to simplify its narrative.

Director Steven Caple Jr. is hoping to release the cut footage at some point

When Steven Caple Jr.'s director's cut of "Transformers: Rise of the Beasts" screened in front of focus test viewers, he says he realized just how grim the original opening sequence was compared to audience expectations. "So when we screened it, people were like, 'Damn, this is kind of dark.' [Laughs] It was kind of dark, but I thought it was a movie I wanted to make, but then I started to realize it is dark, and it felt a little darker," he explained.

Ultimately, the decision was made to remove the sequence and focus more on the Maximals characters who make up many of the new Transformers in "Rise of the Beasts," with the goal of keeping their somewhat complicated mythology from being too confusing.

In answering a question about how far along the visual effects for the cut sequences were, Caple revealed some intriguing information for fans hoping to see at least some of the deleted scenes: "It was far along. Oh my God, some were like almost close to final. I think we're planning on releasing it for the fans ... I wanna release it. I won't release the Hudson River, him dropping the bodies, because that wasn't far along because that was totally CG."

Caple also described how "Rise of the Beasts" was reshaped to be more comedic after the casting of Pete Davidson as Mirage, which is yet another reason the original opening sequence had to go.

"Transformers: Rise of the Beasts" is in theaters now.