After five movies of gigantic robots duking it out in contemporary times (with a few flashbacks thrown in), the Transformers franchise will turn back the clock for its next installment. Next year's Bumblebee spinoff will follow the yellow Autobot in the late 1980s, approximately two decades before he became Sam Witwicky's protector. While Bumblebee won't be packed with nearly as many alien robots as its predecessors, there will be a few other mechanized extraterrestrials who can turn into vehicles involved in the story. Now we've learned that one of those select Transformers will be Bumblebee's leader, Optimus Prime.
While promoting the home release of Transformers: The Last Knight with Frank Welker, the voice of Megatron, Optimus Prime's voice actor, Peter Cullen, revealed to CineMovie that he'll be lending his vocal talents to the Bumblebee movie. Whether this means we'll see Optimus Prime in the "flesh" or if he'll only he heard, one can surmise that Optimus' presence in the Bumblebee movie will be minimal so as not to overshadow the eponymous protagonist. It also remains to be seen when exactly Optimus will show up, be it at the beginning to set up Bumblebee's forthcoming adventure or towards the end to serve as a tie between this and the first Transformers movie.
So far Bumblebee and Optimus Prime are the only officially identified Transformers confirmed to appear in the Bumblebee movie. Director Travis Knight was photographed next to a red 1971 Plymouth GTX that appears to be a Decepticon, but this character hasn't been identified yet. Bumblebee's human cast, on the other hand, is packed with names, including Hailee Steinfeld, John Cena, Jorge Lendeborg Jr., Rachel Crow, Jason Drucker, Abby Quinn, Grace Dzienny, Ricardo Hoyos, Pamela Arlon, Kenneth Choi and Stephen Schneider.
Set in 1987, Bumblebee will follow Charlie Watson, a girl who's on the cusp of turning 18 and trying to find her place in the world. One day Charlie finds a beaten-down Volkswagen Beetle in a junkyard, and after getting it up and running she discovers that there's more than meets the eye with this car. As Transformers: The Last Knight revealed, both Autobots and Decepticons have been living on Earth for much longer than previously implied, with Bumblebee shown to have served in World War II. This spinoff will elaborate on Bumblebee's whereabouts before the Transformers series' main events, so even if Optimus Prime won't be a major player, it will be interesting to find out a little bit of his "secret" history, long before he and his Autobot buddies saved the world many times over from Megatron and his ilk.
Bumblebee rolls out into theaters on December 21, 2018. Don't forget to scan through our 2018 movie premiere guide to find out what else is being theatrically released next year. And for those of you looking to get a Transformers fix, Transformers: The Last Knight is now available on Blu-ray, DVD and Digital HD.