Bumblebee: Transforming a Franchise

Bumblebee screenwriter Christina Hodson on the Transformers franchise's new beginning.

When Bumblebee comes out this December, it will mark many firsts for the Transformers franchise: It will be the first Transformers film to not be directed by Michael Bay. (Kubo and the Two Strings director Travis Knight will be behind the camera.) It will be the franchise’s first prequel. And it will be the first film in the series to be written by a woman.

“I think it’s a bit of a myth that action is for boys,” Bumblebee screenwriter Christina Hodson tells Den of Geek. As a half-Asian Brit growing up watching action movies, Hodson rarely saw main characters who looked like her in the genre’s sea of white, male protagonists in their 30s and 40s.

“I always wanted to see me be the hero,” Hodson says. “I wanted to see me kick ass. I mean, not literally. I had no desire to be an actor, but I wanted to have those role models and those heroes. I think what’s really fun is that [Bumblebee] is a big, cool, fun, action movie the boys are going to love, but girls love action, too, and this is a chance for girls to see themselves in the movie. Which I think is a really special and important thing.”

Bumblebee is set in 1987, twenty years before the events of the first Transformers film. It stars True Grit’s Hailee Steinfeld as Charlie Watson, a teen girl living in a small California beach town who finds Bumblebee in the local junkyard.

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“Charlie is really our entry point into the movie. She doesn’t know anything about Transformers,” says Hodson, calling Bumblebee “custom-made for people who are new to the franchise.” “But, of course, if you’re a fan, you’ll get wonderful little Easter eggs that you’ll get to enjoy that other people won’t.”

The prequel film offers a chance to get to see the Bumblebee character, who Hodson admits has always been her favorite, in a new light.

“This is really an origin story for Bumblebee,” she says, “but the character traits are all the same. They’re all there. His loyalty, his kindness. He’s fun-loving and really he’s been the one who has always had that special bond with humans, whether it’s Sam or someone else; that was something that I wanted to lean into a bit and see where and how that began.”

Like the first Transformers film, which featured a friendship between Bumblebee and Sam as its emotional core, Bumblebee is all about the friendship between an Autobot and a human.

“I had a really clear sense in my mind of who [Charlie] was as a person and what they would mean to each other,” she says. “That was always the North Star that guided everything.”

Bumblebee hits theaters on December 21st, just in time for the holidays.

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“I think it will absolutely make a good Christmas movie,” she says. “It’s a movie that everyone in the family can enjoy because it’s got that wonder and that joy. It’s a little bit sweet, it’s a little bit sad, but it’s also just fun and big and there’s lots of great action … It’s a good Christmas outing.”

Kayti Burt is a staff editor covering books, TV, movies, and fan culture at Den of Geek. Read more of her work here or follow her on Twitter @kaytiburt.

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