The upcoming Transformers spinoff Bumbleblee is poised to break new ground in more ways than one. This is the first Transformers movie not directed by Michael Bay, as Kubo and the Two Strings helmer Travis Knight steps into the director’s chair, and it’s also an origin story, chronicling the beginnings of the titular Transformer as he encounters a young teenage girl (Hailee Steinfeld) in the 1980s. Oh, and we’ll get to hear Bumblebee’s real voice.
Yes indeed, IGN revealed that not only will Bumblebee speak in Bumblebee rather than simply communicating through his radio, but none other than Maze Runner star Dylan O’Brien provides the voice. This is a pretty bold decision, but in speaking to IGN, producer Lorenzo di Bonaventura explained the reasoning behind giving Bumblebee a voice:
“Since we were approaching this as an origin story, we felt that it was appropriate that you got to hear his voice,” di Bonaventura said of the character who thus far has only been able to communicate using existing media. “That’s the simple logic that we employed. The longer term implication of that is different. But the short-term implication of that is, since we really are resetting the mythology, essentially, of who Bumblebee is. And so, that seemed to us to be the appropriate, to get the chance to hear what he sounds like.”
It’s unclear in what context we hear Bumblebee speak—in the trailers for the film, he’s still communicating via radio like he did in the Michael Bay movies. But di Bonaventura says that response from fans thus far has been positive:
“Thankfully, we’ve showed it to a few audiences, and people seem to think that it’d be right and an appropriate voice. You never know, obviously that can be a sensitive thing for people. But it turns out, they imagine his voice that way.”
It’ll be interesting to see how audiences respond to this shift, and how they respond to the idea of a Bumblebee movie overall. Transformers: The Last Knight marked a steep box office drop off from previous Transformers movies, but Bumblebee has the potential to be a holiday hit. We’ll find out when the film opens in theaters on December 21st.