WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for Bumblebee, in theaters now.
Ever since Bumblebee made his live-action debut in 2007 in Michael Bay's Transformers, the fan-favorite Autobot stood apart from the rest of the robots in disguise because he lacked speech. He instead communicated through the radio, using bits and pieces of recordings. Medic Ratchet informed us that Bumblebee's vocal box had been damaged in battle, and that he was still working on repairs, which were never completed. Now, after five films and 11 years, we finally learn in Bumblebee how the Autobot lost the ability to speak.
At the start of the film, the yellow Transformer talks with Optimus Prime and his fellow Autobots during a desperate battle on Cybertron. When Optimus Prime has no choice but to call for his troops to fall back, he orders Bumblebee to go to Earth and protect the planet as he waits for them to join him there. The faithful soldier, Bumblebee undertakes the mission, with the Decepticon Blitzwing in hot pursuit.
As the two Transformers fight on Earth, the bulky Blitzwing gets the upper hand and asks Bumblebee where the other Autobots are hiding. Of course, Bee being Bee, he vows that he will never talk. In response, the villainous Blitzwing makes the statement "official": With a well-placed stab Blitzwing damages the Autobot's vocal processor beyond repair before throwing him down a cliff.
But Blitzwing has no intention of stopping there. As the Decepticon moves to kill his enemy, Bumblebee takes him by surprise and instead destroys the villain. The Autobot is able to defeat his opponent, but suffers catastrophic damage in the process.
We now know that the destruction of Bumblebee's vocal circuitry wasn't incidental damage sustained in a melee, but rather a targeted blow intended as retribution for his unwillingness to divulge the location of his fellow Autobots. It's a testament to his bravery, made even more tragic because we know that, decades later, the Autobot will still not be able to speak.
Thankfully, his human friend, Charlie Watson (Hailee Steinfeld), helps Bumblebee by introducing him to music, enabling the Autobot to find a new means of communication.
Directed by Travis Knight from a script by Christina Hodson, Bumblebee stars Hailee Steinfeld, John Cena, Jorge Lendeborg Jr., Pamela Adlon, Jason Drucker, Abby Quinn, Rachel Crow, Ricardo Hoyos, and Gracie Dzienny.