Michael Bay won’t be in the director’s chair this time.
If you’ve grown up with Michael Bay’s Transformers films, Bumblebee has always been a Chevrolet Camaro. But older fans of the franchise will remember the Autobot transforming into a vintage Volkswagen Bug in the original 1980s Transformers cartoon. Apparently, Michael Bay chose to cast Bumblebee as a Camaro to avoid confusion with Herbie. And to make more money out of product placement, of course. Later this year, Bumblebee will return to his roots as a Volkswagen Bug in a new spin-off prequel movie.
Ahead of its release later this year, a teaser trailer for the spin-off film, simply called Bumblebee, has been released, showing a smaller, more fearful Bumblebee in action as a VW Bug. Tonally, this is going to be a very different Transformers movie. Mercifully, Michael Bay won’t be in the director’s chair this time.
Instead, Bumblebee is being directed by Travis Knight, whose only directing credit is the animated film Kubo and the Two Strings, which probably explains why the teaser trailer is mostly devoid of explosions. It looks, dare we say it, heartfelt for a movie about cars transforming into robots. Instead of pummeling us with bombastic action sequences, the movie centers on Bumblebee’s relationship with lead character Charlie Watson played by Hailee Steinfeld. Set in 1987, the plot revolves around Bumblebee finding refuge in a junkyard in a small Californian beach town while on the run from the US government.
Watson finds Bumblebee “battle-scarred and broken.” When she revives him, “she quickly discovers this is no ordinary VW Bug.” It sounds a lot like the setup in the 2005 Transformers movie, but hopefully Knight can take the franchise in a new direction because the more recent films have become increasingly stale and formulaic. Bumblebee opens in theaters December 21. The film also stars former WWE wrestler John Cena and Pamela Adlon.