The Transformers film franchise continues to chug along nicely behind the scenes with Paramount Pictures and Hasbro Toys collectively planning to up an ante that’s already in the billions. However, it seems that one of those plans could involve a spinoff movie focusing on one key Autobot in Bumblebee. Could the yellow, voice-sampling VW-turned Camaro carry a movie on his own?
Making a presentation yesterday at New York’s Global Consumer Conference, Hasbro CEO Brian Goldner brushed upon some revelatory aspects of the roadmap for the Transformers film franchise with plans to expand the movie mythos well beyond the four existing films. According to Goldner:
As we go forward, we would imagine several more Transformers movies. Not just in the current lineage, but also spinoffs and focusing on certain key characters that are beloved the world over. Many of you know Bumblebee; the yellow Camaro… formally known as a yellow VW Bug and he is a beloved character by kids all over the world. We could see stories told around Bumblebee and other characters.
While Goldner’s words may provide some insight into the current thinking over at the corporate collective controlling the Transformers property, it doesn’t exactly emanate the aura of plans that are set in stone. We have known for some time now that Paramount has been cultivating some prominent talent in the form of its Writer’s Room to do a bit of long-term planning regarding where the Robots in Disguise are heading. Plans for spinoff films, in the same vein as the upcoming Star Wars spinoffs, are one potentially lucrative strategy that safely adds to the continuity without necessarily altering its form. However, is Bumblebee the right character to carry such a venture?
Clearly from the standpoint of name and visual recognition, Bumblebee is one of the most important Autobots. Somewhat the runt of the litter, he’s essentially the personality-filled gateway Transformer for the series’ various human protagonists as they get acquainted to this new reality filled with rampaging robots wreaking wanton chaos. In fact, in some versions of the animated series’ and, most notably, at the end of the last film, Age of Extinction, Bumblebee assumes leadership of the Autobots after Optimus Prime leaves Earth to find The Creator. Thus, Bumblebee's status as an A-lister was never in doubt. In fact, it could be even argued that the primary Transformers films focus on him to the point that he's arguably the protagonist, rendering a spinoff run rather redundant.
Hasbro would probably push for a Bumblebee movie because they are in the business of selling toys and Bumblebee is probably the most omnipresent Autobot on the toy shelves. The tentpole of a movie focused on him would only accelerate that idea. However, from a storyline-dramatic aspect, it might be more prudent to use potential spinoff opportunities to actually expand the mythos, maybe focusing on a new Autobot character. A solo movie would certainly be a great way to introduce popular key characters like, for example, the Autobots’ de facto leader, Ultra Magnus in a film setting him up to join the team in the main films, free from expositional constraints. That’s just one idea.
However, it did seem apparent from Goldner’s words that plans are still all very much in the hypothetical stages. In fact, the untitled Transformers 5 is still attempting to make headway and it could be a few years before any of these broader franchise plans come to any kind of fruition.