Laser lights, smoke machines and a video presentation set to live musical stylings of Stan Bush singing “The Touch” set the tone for Paramount’s Bumblebee panel at San Diego Comic-Con with some major and totally tubular ’80s flair.
Bumblebee marks the live-action feature debut for two-time Academy Award-nominated director Travis Knight, who is known for movies like Kubo and the Two Strings. The director not only brought his animation eye to the Transformers movie universe but also a genuine love for the popular toy that was made famous in the ’80s.
Knight was joined by the movie’s stars Hailee Steinfeld, Jorge Lendeborg Jr., and Comic-Con first-timer John Cena — who entered Hall H like the wrestling superstar he is. They talked about their characters and their place in the movie, but more importantly, that talked about the plot of the movie which has been under wraps.
“It’s an origin story,” said Knight. “From all the iterations, Bumblebee has been the Transformer with the most connection to people.”
He continues, “We find out who he was before he met us, why he becomes the character he becomes — it gives the opportunity what he’s about. It’s a way to look at Transformers like we never have before.”
The presentation included some new footage from the ’80s-set (hence the very retro intro) movie, that balanced action and the touching Spielbergian relationship between Steinfeld’s character Charlie and the titular Transformer.
The footage showed some major details from the movie including a look at the villains of the movie Shatter and Dropkick, voiced by Angela Bassett and Justin Theroux in action. Knight revealed they are “triple changers” that can transform into muscle cars and flying vehicles. We also get a glimpse of a Optimus Prime hologram — which got a huge applause from the audience.
Knight also gave us some more details from the movie saying that we will get to see Cybertron and he says “it is awesome.” And many diehard fans of Transformers have assumed that the jet featured in the first trailer was Starscream, but Knight has admitted that it is not the fan favorite Decepticon. Bummer, I know, but he promises there is a story behind that.
And to everyone’s surprise, the voice of Optimus Prime, Peter Cullen, popped up during the audience Q&A asking “What does a Transformer have to do to get his own movie?”
Perhaps Knight might have another origin story on his hands.