Warning! SPOILERS ahead for Bumblebee!
Bumblebee's ending seems to set up Michael Bay's 2007 Transformers movie while simultaneously contradicting it - does this mean Bee's solo movie sets up a new direction for the robot saga? Director Travis Knight's Bumblebee is both a prequel and a soft reboot, telling the previously unknown story of how the courageous yellow Autobot came to Earth and made his first human friend, Charlie Watson (Academy Award nominee Hailee Steinfeld).
Set in 1987, Bumblebee begins during the Fall of Cybertron; after the Decepticons conquer the Transformers homeworld, Optimus Prime sends an Autobot named B-127 to Earth with orders to protect it from the Decepticons until the rest of the Autobots arrive. Blitzwing followed him and before B-127 could destroy the Decepticon Triple-Changer, his vocal systems are ripped out. Suffering a Memory Core Critical Failure, B-127 takes the form of a Volkswagen Beetle and then hides in a junkyard - until he's discovered by Charlie, an 18-year-old girl who befriends him, teaches him to "speak" using the radio, and names him "Bumblebee". As Charlie repairs Bee, she accidentally activates a beacon that alerts Decepticons Shatter and Dropkick of Bumblebee's location on Earth.
Under the guise of friendship, the Decepticons form an alliance with Sector Seven, a U.S. military unit interested in gaining their alien technology, despite the suspicions of Agent Jack Burns (John Cena). Burns bears a vendetta against Bumblebee after a violent encounter when Bee arrived on Earth that left Burns scarred and he initially believed the Decepticons' claims that Bumblebee is a criminal. The Decepticons and Sector Seven track down and capture Bumblebee but the humans soon learn that Shatter and Dropkick are attempting to build a beacon to signal a Decepticon invasion of Earth. After Charlie and her friend Memo (Jorge Lendeborg Jr.) save and reboot Bumblebee, she and the Autobot stop the Decepticons; Bee saves a Sector Seven helicopter carrying Burns from crashing and then destroys Dropkick and Shatter while Charlie shuts down the beacon.
Recognizing that they saved Earth and that he was wrong about Bumblebee, Burns allows the Autobot and his teenage friend to get away. But what happens afterward is where the biggest questions are raised about what comes next for the Transformers saga.
- This Page: What Bumblebee's Ending Means
- Page 2: How Bumblebee's Ending Reboots Transformers
What Bumblebee's Ending Really Means (And What's Next)
At the end of Bumblebee, Charlie realizes the pair have to part ways; she understands he has a greater mission on Earth and she can't come along, even though he's her first car and, more importantly, her friend. They drive to a point overlooking the Golden Gate Bridge and say their goodbyes. Bee then surprises Charlie by scanning a nearby Camaro and then transforming into one. Charlie says, "You mean you could have been a Camaro this whole time?!" It's understandable (and funny) that she's annoyed that her first car could have been a cool sports car and not a beat-up Volkswagen but he just didn't reveal that ability.
However, Charlie isn't without a set of wheels for very long; throughout the film, she was trying to finish restoring a convertible that she and her father were working on together before he died. Charlie does get the car running and we see her triumphantly driving her new ride - it may not transform, but it's a real car and after mourning her father for years, it gives her fitting closure.
Giving up Bumblebee also highlights a significant difference of character between Charlie and Sam Witwicky (Shia LaBeouf): Sam was a Chosen One who had a major role to play in the Autobot vs. Decepticon war, which is why Bumblebee stayed with Sam for all three movies LaBeouf starred in. Charlie has no greater destiny with the Transformers and she wisely let her friend Bee go and resumed a normal life (unless she returns in a sequel and gets pulled back into the Transformers' world).
Meanwhile, Bumblebee turning into a 1977 Camaro - the exact same form he will be in when he becomes Sam Witwicky's car in 2007 seems to directly set up Michael Bay's Transformers. In fact, the only reason to show Bee doing this is to create a bridge to the 2007 film so the audience understands that Bumblebee is indeed a prequel and the events of Michael Bay's films will still happen. However, Bumblebee's mid-credits scene immediately calls this into question.
Page 2 of 2: How Bumblebee's Ending Reboots Transformers
How Bumblebee's Ending Reboots Transformers
After he takes his new Camaro form and drives away from Charlie, Bumblebee is seen driving side-by-side with a red 1977 Freightliner semi-truck on the Golden Gate Bridge. This looks suspiciously like Optimus Prime in his Generation-1 design - and the mid-credits scene immediately confirms that it is the Autobot Leader when he and Bumblebee are next seen walking together in the forest. Both Autobots gaze up at the sight of seven more Autobots arriving in the sky.
Despite earlier creating a bridge to Michael Bay's Transformers via Bee becoming a Camaro, the fact that Optimus Prime and the Autobots have arrived on Earth in 1987 immediately contradicts Bay's canon - Transformers established that Optimus and the Autobots don't land on Earth until 2007. All of the Transformers are supposed to be searching the universe for the missing AllSpark cube (which is never mentioned in Bumblebee); it was only after learning that Sam Witwicky unwittingly possessed the map to the AllSpark that Bumblebee sent a signal to outer space alerting Optimus Prime and inviting the Autobots to Earth.
Related: How Much Did Bumblebee Cost To Make?
In Bumblebee, the heroic Transformers land on our world two decades too soon (and Bumblebee already caused a plot hole with Transformers 5 where Bee was supposed to have fought in World War II). Of course, twenty years separate Bumblebee and Transformers so there is plenty of leeway for a sequel to explain the Autobots leaving Earth for some reason so that they can return in 2007. It's also unclear which Autobots follow Bee and Prime to Earth, but during the Fall of Cybertron, Wheeljack, Arcee, Ironhide, Brawn, and Ratchet are seen, so it could be them rocketing to Earth. Also, Jazz is with the Autobots in Transformers so he could be part of this group as well.
What's Next For The Transformers Franchise?
The future of the Transformers movies rests in Bumblebee's hands, and with the strongest critical acclaim of any Transformers film, the future looks bright. This is a complete turnaround from the brutal reviews that met Michael Bay's final entry, Transformers: The Last Knight. Bay's fifth film left the saga with a cliffhanger (Earth is actually Unicron and the villainous Quintessa was alive and loose on our word) that may not be resolved, and if Bumblebee proves to be a box office hit, it's unlikely the franchise would return to the aborted plan for Transformers 6.
Instead, the most likely option seems to be continuing Bumblebee's story and exploring the 1990s with Hailee Steinfeld possibly returning, although this could also further deviate from Michael Bay's canon and set the Bumblebee films on an alternate timeline. Director Travis Knight has also suggested a sequel set on Cybertron, which would be a smart move that could preserve Bay's canon through avoidance (despite the look of Cybertron and the Transformers in Bumblebee outright contradicting Bay's designs).
However, the exciting possibility also exists that Transformers could crossover with other Hasbro properties like G.I. Joe and M.A.S.K., with Agent Burns serving as the human linking that shared universe together. This could completely change the game for all of the Hasbro franchises, and while that would likely sever the link to the Bayformers' continuity, it creates something new fans have never seen before. Whatever happens next, the crowd-pleasing Bumblebee opens up a wide-open road for the franchise and it will be interesting to see in what direction Transformers rolls out.