WARNING: The following article contains major spoilers for Bumblebee, the latest film in the Transformers franchise, in theaters Friday, Dec. 21.
At the start of Hasbro and Paramount's first live-action Transformers film, everything began with Optimus Prime telling audiences about the all-powerful cube known as the AllSpark. Following a devastating war on Cybertron, we learned that both the Autobots and the Decepticons were searching for the life-giving artifact. Once word came that it was located on Earth, Optimus Prime and his fellow Autobots joined Bumblebee, who was already on the planet, to protect the AllSpark and defeat the Decepticons.
Then, Optimus would declare Earth the Autobots' new home, a safe haven he and his followers vowed to protect from the villainous Decepticons. And this was the basis for the adventures of the next four films -- films that would always find new sources of trouble coming to Earth. However, this winter's origin film, Bumblebee, completely changes the continuity established in the previous Transformers films.
Transformers: The Last Knight (2017) pulled the curtain back on the secret history of the Transformers in ancient human affairs. Most notably, the movie featured a Bumblebee-focused flashback scene that showed the friendly Autobot fighting alongside the Allies against Nazis during World War II. At the time, it was believed that this scene was a backdoor teaser for the Transformer's upcoming origin film, which we already knew was in development.
However, Bumblebee not only changes this continuity, it completely ignores it. The movie starts during the war for Cybertron, which finds the Autobots fighting a losing battle against the overwhelming forces of the Decepticons. Optimus Prime orders his troops to fall back, and he gives Bumblebee a very specific mission: Travel to Earth and protect the planet until he and the rest of the Autobots join him there.
Bumblebee arrives on Earth a few years before the main story of the film, which is set in 1987, begins. This means that, at most, Bumblebee first set (robotic) foot on Earth in 1985, long after the end of the second World War.
What's more, when Optimus gives Bumblebee his mission, it at first seems like this is how the events of the original movie would be set up. As we begin to connect the pieces, we believe that it will be years, decades, before Bumblebee is reunited with Optimus and the Autobots... however, that is not the case at all. The ending of the Bumblebee film, which is still set in 1987, sees Optimus Prime, in his classic truck form, regroup with Bumblebee and the Autobots on Earth.
And yet, 2007's Transformers made it clear that this was the first time Optimus and the Autobots were on Earth, even going so far as to give a small origin for Optimus' truck form. But now, that's all been changed. Now, Bumblebee shows that the Autobots are on Earth in 1987. Plus, it's revealed that they are here to stay, as more Autobots arrive on the planet to join in the fight against the Decepticons.
By now, it appears that Bumblebee is setting itself apart from the previous films. However, that's not exactly the case either. What's curious is that the movie doesn't detach itself from Transformers movie continuity either. The film actually reveals how the yellow Autobot lost the ability to speak, how he learned to communicate through the radio, how the character first tangled with Sector 7 and how he would first change into a yellow Camaro instead of a Beetle. Therefore, there are actually efforts in the film to tie into the larger Transformers cinematic franchise -- but the movie also does its own thing with the timeline.
Ultimately, it doesn't really matter. Bumblebee is the perfect opportunity to have loose connections to the movie franchise, while at the same time offering it a fresh start. The movie is the Transformers film fans have waited for, and it doesn't look like the events of The Last Knight will ever be concluded. Instead, the future of the Autobots and their next big screen adventures might just be where they were born -- in the 80s'.
Directed by Travis Knight (Kubo and the Two Strings) from a script by Christina Hodson (Birds of Prey), Bumblebee stars Hailee Steinfeld, John Cena, Jorge Lendeborg Jr., Pamela Adlon, Jason Drucker, Abby Quinn, Rachel Crow, Ricardo Hoyos, and Gracie Dzienny. The film arrives on Dec. 21.