‘Bumblebee’ Movie: “Less Transformers”, 80s Setting Confirmed, ‘Iron Giant’ Comparison

Image credit: Paramount Pictures

Mark Wahlberg and Michael Bay may be stepping away from Transformers, but Paramount is hard at work getting the next phase ready.

Up next: Bumblebee, a spinoff directed by Kubo and the Two Strings helmer Travis Knight and written by Christina Hodson (Shut In, Unforgettable). Details have mostly been kept under wraps since word broke that the film was in development, although reports have come out that Hailee Steinfeld has all but been confirmed to star and that the film may be set in the 80s.

In an interview with Collider, Transformers franchise producer Lorenzo di Bonaventura provided a little insight as to what’s in store in the film, which he says will mark a “very distinctive departure” from what fans have come to expect.

First of all, the 80s setting has been confirmed; 1985, to be precise.

“I know we’re doing a spinoff first in the Bumblebee movie, and that is a very distinctive departure from what you’ve been seeing so far… The objective of that movie is to develop more time with less robots in a way, and to go back to 1985 and go back to sort of the original heritage if you would of the Transformers. G1.”

“Generation 1” refers to the Transformers toy line that ran from ’82 to ’92. The animated Transformers television series that spawned from the toys kicked off in ’84. Could that mean that we’ll be getting the Volkswagen Beetle version of Bumblebee?

di Bonaventura also confirmed that the film will be a ‘girl and her robot’ story, adding that they’re aiming for an “emotionally complex” narrative that offers “less Transformers” and tightens up Bay’s sprawling scale.

“There are dramatically less Transformers. We hired purposefully Travis Knight, who is a very distinct filmmaker. You can’t compete with Michael—you’re gonna lose. And also I think the audience wants something different all the time, let’s keep them interested. They’re gonna get a very emotionally complex story, a very tight story in terms of its location and in terms of its storytelling.”

And as for what tone Bumblebee may have, it appears Brad Bird’s ’99 animated classic Iron Giant could prove to be an interesting comparison.

“It just reminds me a little bit of that where it was very contained and yet it didn’t feel small.”

We’ll see just how the franchise develops with Bay stepping away from the director’s chair (he’s still staying on as producer). From the sounds of it, and if Kubo and the Two Strings is any indication, it looks as though Paramount wants to shake things up a bit, to make things feel a little fresh as the next chapter in this franchise begins. Fingers crossed.

Bumblee is scheduled to hit the U.S. on 8 June 2018. Transformers: The Last Knight, apparently Bay’s last Transformers film as director, opens in the US on June 21 and arrives in Australia on June 22.

Image credit: Paramount Pictures