Bumblebee contains an explanation for an apparent plot hole from Transformers: The Last Knight: why is Bee a newcomer on Earth who doesn't remember fighting Nazis during World War II? Director Travis Knight's film is a solo adventure starring the heroic yellow Autobot, which is set in 1987 California. Bee is discovered by an 18-year-old woman named Charlie Watson (Academy Award-nominee Hailee Steinfeld) in a junkyard and the two strike up a friendship as Decepticons and the government agency Sector 7 hunt the missing Autobot. However, by the time he meets Charlie, Bee has lost his memory.
Given how all of the Transformers in Bumblebee are in their beloved Generation-1 designs, many fans suspect Bee's solo adventure is actually a soft reboot in disguise. Bumblebee is a decidedly more character-driven movie with fewer Transformers at its core than the five overblown spectacles Michael Bay directed. Bee finding himself in a California beach town 20 years before he meets Sam Witwicky (Shia LaBeouf) in the first Transformers movie gave some fans the belief that the continuity of Bay's films may no longer hold. However, Bumblebee's past exploits and the history Bay established could indeed remain part of the franchise's lore.
As established in Transformers: The Last Knight, Bumblebee has actually been on Earth for several decades. Over 40 years before he meets Charlie, Bee fought alongside other Autobots on the side of the Allies in World War II. As Sir Edmond Burton (Anthony Hopkins), the last member of the Order of the Witwiccans, explained to Cade Yaeger (Mark Wahlberg), Bumblebee was a member of the U.S. Army Air Forces strike team called The Devil's Brigade. Wartime Bumblebee wasn't as "nice" as fans have come to know him, either; the Devil's Brigade was "a vicious military unit" that helped to turn the tide of the war. And although Bumblebee is a defender of humanity today, during World War II, he slaughtered Nazis seemingly without remorse.
But how does this history mesh with Bee as we see him in his solo film? After all, when Charlie finds the yellow bug, he's frightened and unsure of who he is. The new Bumblebee international trailer explains what happens: early in the film, Bee is attacked by Blitzwing, who demands to know where Optimus Prime is. The Decepticon throws Bumblebee off a cliff and upon crashing to the ground, the Autobot suffers from a Memory Core Critical Failure, which wiped his memory banks (but not before he locked onto a nearby yellow Volkswagen Beetle that he then transforms into as he hides).
This means that Bumblebee's World War II history as seen in Transformers 5 can remain canon, but without looming over Bee's modern, gentler personality and affection for humans, which he develops from his friendship with Charlie and the lessons she teaches him. In effect, Bumblebee becomes the origin of the character fans know and love - Optimus Prime's most loyal soldier who is arguably the most stalwart protector of humanity among the Autobots. Of course, this would mean Bee was on Earth for 40 years, something the film may not continue.
Bumblebee's plot is similar to Captain Marvel; both heroes have issues with their memories in their solo films. Carol Danvers (Brie Larson) crashes to Earth with no memory of the life she led before she became a member of Starforce. With Nick Fury as her guide, Carol experiences flashes of memory and has to relearn the history she has somehow lost. Bumblebee is similarly damaged by his encounter with Blitzwing and he has no memory of the mission Optimus Prime charged him with (until Charlie unlocks the hologram embedded in Bee's circuits).
Turning Bumblebee into a journey of self-discovery for the brave Autobot is a smart move by the filmmakers; in the same way Bee has to relearn who he is, fans will simultaneously watch him become the heroic champion they've come to love from the previous Transformers movies or going back all the way back to the Generation-1 cartoons. In a touching way, Bee's relationship with Charlie will not only inject the heart back into Bumblebee but also into the entire Transformers franchise.
- Bumblebee (2018) release date: Dec 21, 2018