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Credit: Paramount Pictures

Bumblebee director reveals the 'origin' movie will feature Transformers homeworld of Cybertron

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Jul 20, 2018, 9:56 PM EDT (Updated)

You don't have to be a Transformers fan to enjoy Bumblebee, the spinoff film that's coming out this Christmas.

That's the message straight from director Travis Knight, the head of the Laika Studios animation company who's making his live-action directorial debut on this movie after five previous Transformers adventures directed by Michael Bay.

"You can come into this film not knowing anything about the Transformers and still enjoy it," said Knight during the Bumblebee presentation in Comic-Con's Hall H late Friday afternoon.

The director of Kubo and the Two Strings added that fans of the franchise, however, will find plenty of things in the movie to keep them occupied, including a trip to the Transformers' homeworld of Cybertron.

Knight wanted to harken back to Gen One designs for Bumblebee and the handful of other Transformers in the movie (which include Shatter, Dropkick and Blitzwing, but not, as rumored, Starscream), in keeping with the story taking place before the other Transformers films: "It's a way of looking at Transformers that I don't think we've had before."

"In effect it's an origin story," said Knight. "In all the different iterations of the Transformers, Bumblebee has had the greatest connection with people and affinity with humanity. I was always fascinated by that and wanted to know how that came about."

Knight describes Bumblebee in the film as an "adolescent," which gives the Autobot a parallel storyline to that of Hailee Steinfeld's Charlie: "We meet her as your typical misunderstood teenager who has had a major loss in her life," says Steinfeld. "She's craving a sense of freedom and sees that in a car that works. But the car she ends up finding is not just a car."

If the movie is just half as fun as the SDCC panel was, then audiences really will be in for a fun ride. Perhaps in a nod to the '80s setting of the movie, things kicked off with a surprise appearance from singer Stan Bush, who serenaded the audience with the song "You've Got The Touch." 

Also making a grand entrance, was John Cena who plays Agent Burns in the film. Cena joined the panel right before they showed some exclusive footage, and walked up through the audience to the '80s Beastie Boys tune "(You Gotta) Fight for Your Right (to Party!)"

The extended reel of footage shown saw Bee getting beaten up on a mountainside and falling off the cliff, where he sees a yellow Volkswagen before he shuts down. Then it jumps to Charlie (Steinfeld) poking around a junkyard where she finds the car under a sheet.

Charlie brings it home and we see the scene from the trailer where Bee comes to life in her garage. She asks who he is, but he can't talk. She says he sounds like a bumblebee, which is how he gets his name.

The panel ended on a teasingly fun note, as Peter Cullen (the voice of Optimus Prime) showed up to ask Knight a question, in his character's voice. "What does an Autobot have to do to get his own movie?" he asked, fueling further rumors about a Optimus Prime standalone film.

Bumblebee buzzes into theaters on Dec. 21,. 

Click here for SYFY WIRE's full coverage of SDCC 2018, including up-to-the-minute news, exclusive interviews, and videos.

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