Why Bumblebee Has a Retro G1 Design In His Own Movie

The new design of the titular character in Bumblebee hopes to recreate the retro Transformers: Generation 1 feeling. Michael Bay made his mark on the Transformers property over the last decade. He directed five films in the universe but is now moving on. His absence paved the way for Kubo and The Two Strings director Travis Knight to join the first ever Transformers movie spinoff. It was an easy choice for Paramount as to who it would center around, Bumblebee.

The smaller budget and story aren't the only things different about the solo movie though. In order to tell Bumblebee's origin, the film is going back to the 80s. The setting is fitting, as this was the decade that the Transformers were first created. Those Generation 1 toys and designs are actually a huge influence on Bumblebee, and the star Autobot's new look.

Related: Bumblebee Director Confirms Cybertron Scenes For Spinoff

Screen Rant spoke to Bumblebee director Travis Knight following the film's panel at San Diego Comic-Con to discuss the project. During the interview, we asked him about the reason for Bumblebee's new look. While it may seem obvious at first given the prequel status and ability for Hasbro to sell new toys, one of the biggest reasons was to try and emulate the feeling that the original toys brought.

Travis Knight: We didn't start on this film with a blank canvas. You know, there are 10 years of a filmic designs that we've seen on the screen, but because we set this film 20 years prior to the first Transformers film, it gave us some license, some liberty to play around with the design aesthetic. For me, I wanted to try to evoke the feeling that first wave of Transformers designs made me feel and so that was leaning into the aesthetic, the silhouettes, the shape language, the plating, the color of that first generation of design. There is something that to this day are still so beautiful and I think are hard to top. I think the film is not slavishly following that mold, but it is bringing that aesthetic and weaving it into a more modern point of view so it's something entirely new, but hopefully it has that feeling of that first wave of Transformers.

The Generation 1 Transformers toys launched in 1984 and included the debut of Bumblebee's yellow Mini Vehicle. The VW bug design was an iconic part to Bumblebee, but one that was not previously seen in live-action. During the previous five Transformers films, Bumblebee has a continuously updating Camaro design. That choice made sense for the films and gave Bumblebee a cooler and more modern make, but it lacked the classic feeling that the VW model brings.

From what footage they've shown of Bumblebee, it doesn't just look like they're recapturing the look either. Knight appears to have successfully breathed life, heart, and humor into a Transformers film once more - or possibly for the first time. The new design for Bumblebee only highlights that further, as he's a bit softer and shy this time around, which looks to be a great fit opposite Hailee Steinfeld in the lead human role. Their bond is abundantly clear in the first trailer, as the emotional connection between them builds throughout. That isn't directly related to Bumblebee's new look, but it definitely helps highlight the change.

These weren't the only comments Knight made about the movie this weekend though. He confirmed the identity of the third Decepticon - and it isn't Starscream as many thought. In addition to that, the SDCC panel for the film featured a holographic Optimus Prime. There's a lot of positive buzz swirling around Bumblebee right now and hopefully that continues up until its December release.

MORE: Bumblebee's Decepticons Are Triple-Changers

This #SDCC post is brought to you in partnership with Regal Cinemas.

Key Release Dates
  • Bumblebee (2018) release date: Dec 21, 2018
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