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How The Bumblebee Movie Can Redeem Starscream

UPDATE: This flying Decepticon is not Starscream after all! He's Blitzwing.

When Bumblebee rolls into theaters this December, it carries the hopes that it could redeem Starscream, a character much maligned by the previous films. For a decade and five films, the Transformers franchise were all creatively controlled by Michael Bay. And, of all of the Transformers, the robot in disguise most desperately in need of redemption is Starscream.

The second-in-command and would-be leader of the Decepticons, Starscream was utterly ruined by Michael Bay's interpretation of the character. As both a toy - Starscream was an F-15 fighter jet that transformed into a robot - and as a villain in the popular 1980s cartoon, the malevolent machine was always a fan favorite ever since his debut as part of the Generation-1 Transformers. But as one of the Bayformers, Starscream was turned into a hideously-designed eyesore who ended up bearing little of the personality fans came to expect. More damning, Starscream meant nothing overall to the movie saga.

Related: How Bumblebee Could Soft Reboot Transformers

But there's a new hope for the Decepticon schemer in Bumblebee, which is directed by Travis Knight (Kubo and the Two Strings), and stars Academy Award-nominee Hailee Steinfeld as Charlie, a teenage girl who bonds with the yellow bug in 1987. The new film promises a smaller scale story centering on the relationship between Bee and his new human friend. It also boasts far fewer robots overall, with only three Decepticon antagonists, one of whom (as glimpsed in the teaser trailer) resembles and is expected to be Starscream himself.

If this turns out to be the case as fans hope, then without his arch-rival Megatron to hog the spotlight as the movie's Big Bad, here's how Bumblebee could finally let Starscream soar:

Why Starscream Is Awesome

Starscream has been a part of the Transformers' many incarnations across all media platforms since his debut, but the version of the character remembered most fondly is from Generation-1. Starscream was Megatron's lieutenant but yearned to kill/replace him as the leader of the Decepticons - and he was never subtle about it. Always earning Megatron's ire, both verbally and physically, Starscream still did his evil duty fighting their war with the Autobots. But he never hesitated to pounce upon every opportunity to undermine and supplant Megatron. In the animated Transformers: The Movie, Megatron was transformed into Galvatron and finally murdered Starscream in the middle of his coronation as the new Decepticon leader. However, Starscream returned as a ghost to haunt his enemies!

The popularity of Starscream endures because, in many ways, he was the most human of the Transformers. While Optimus Prime and Megatron represented the two sides of good and evil, Starscream himself was a scheming opportunist who was no stranger to spectacular failure. Voiced with raspy gusto by the late Chris Latta, Starscream was jealous, petty, vindictive, and cowardly, yet somehow, he was also funny and loveable. Time and again, Starscream would reach for the brass ring - command over the Decepticons - but was denied because he was never quite good enough. As a red, blue, and grey jet fighter, Starscream also boasted one of the coolest looking designs of the Transformers, and the rejection of his classic look was just one of the reasons his live-action movie counterpart was always so disappointing.

Related: Bumblebee's Trailer Already Addresses The Problems With Michael Bay's Transformers

How Michael Bay's Movies Ruined Starscream

Michael Bay's version of Starscream was unrecognizable from the character fans loved. All of the Bayformers were over-designed, but Optimus Prime, Bumblebee, and even Megatron at least retrained distinctive traits that made them identifiable. But Bay ruined Starscream in particular. Though he was still the evil lieutenant to Megatron and transformed into a fighter jet, Starscream looked horrible. Gone was the handsome, streamlined G-1 design and colors; Bay instead turned the Decepticon into a monotone grey eyesore that had the head of an insect and a deformed robot body. All of Michael Bay's designs were controversial, but nothing about this drab and ungainly incarnation would make a Transformers fan think this was Starscream.

Worse than how he looked was how Bay abandoned nearly everything about Starscream's character. All that remained was his tenuous loyalty to Megatron and his desire to replace him as leader, but otherwise, Starscream had absolutely none of the amusing wit and personality he had in the cartoon. It's true that all the Bayformers were criticized for lack of personality, but Starscream's diminishment was particularly infuriating because he was arguably the most interesting of all of the Transformers, plus his schemes and inevitable failures also provided comic relief. Instead, Starscream was reduced into a non-entity who had no memorable impact on any of the movies before he was killed off in Transformers: Dark of the Moon. When his severed head makes a token appearance in Transformers: The Last Knight, this final indignity was just a bitter reminder of all of Starscream's wasted potential.

However, Bumblebee has the chance to restore Starscream to prominence and give him the spotlight he always deserved.

Page 2 of 2: Bumblebee Can Get Starscream Right

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