How Optimus Prime Can Cameo In Bumblebee
Bumblebee may be focusing on the diminutive Autobot scout, but that doesn't mean Optimus Prime won't have a presence in the upcoming prequel film. Directed by Kubo and the Two Strings helmer Travis Knight, Bumblebee is set to take the robots is disguise back to their 1980s roots, and will tell a smaller scale story with the mute Autobot and a new human friend, Charlie Watson (Hailee Steinfeld). As the story takes place two decades before the events of Michael Bay's Transformers, the first entry in the franchise - in which it was established Bumblebee was the only Autobot on Earth - it would seem unlikely that other Autobots would make significant appearances, including Optimus Prime.
But we know longtime Optimus Prime voice actor Peter Cullen will be in Bumblebee, so it stands to reason Optimus will play a role in the film, which begs the question: how can the Autobot leader show up if he's not even on the planet yet?
There are actually plenty of ways this could happen, both in ways that maintain the established franchise continuity and in ways that could signify a greater break with the canon of Bay's movies. It seems almost unthinkable to have a Transformers film that doesn't feature Optimus Prime, and it seems highly unlikely that's a trend Bumblebee is going to start. Here are a few ways the Autobot leader can show up in the prequel film.
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Bumblebee Could Open With The Cybertron War
One of the most obvious ways to showcase Optimus would be to establish what Bumblebee was up to before he got to Earth. The details of the conflict shift with different continuities, but the basics are always the same: Autobots and Decepticons have been in an ongoing civil war for millions of years, and when the resources of their home planet, Cybertron, have been spent, the war rages across the galaxy, eventually making its way to Earth. Seeing glimpses of the war on Cybertron could be a way to not only check in on Optimus Prime, but examine how the war has changed Bumblebee. We know he was once able to talk normally like the other Autobots, but an injury resulted in his famous "communication by audio clip" way of speaking.
Beginning the film on Cybertron would also be an efficient way of showcasing the gigantic stakes of an intergalactic robot war without having to dwell on Michael Bay's trademark brand of metropolitan destruction for most of the film's runtime, as it looks to be telling a much more intimate, small-scale story. Giving Optimus and friends one massive sci-fi battle at the outset could be the perfect way to set up that smaller scale story.
Bumblebee Could Have A Cybertron Flashback
Similarly, a flashback to Bumblebee's days on his home planet during the war could be used to explain to Charlie why giant alien robots are suddenly a part of her life - and simultaneously showcase Optimus Prime ripping through some Decepticons. This would be slightly trickier than a Cybertron-set introduction, as Bumblebee's teaser trailer suggests the hero's vocal injury happened pretty recently and he's still working out how to communicate. The flashback could happen in Bumblebee's mind, of course, a robotic nightmare of the horrors of war, a nice contrast to the warmth and love he's presumably going to get from Charlie, and which will instill in him a desire to protect humanity at all costs.
Bumblebee Sends Optimus Prime A Message About Earth
In the first Transformers live action film, Bumblebee has already been on Earth for a while, but his Autobot brethren don't arrive until later, when Bumblebee confirms the Allspark cube's location and the oncoming Decepticon threat. That presents some limitations on how Bumblebee can use Optimus Prime, but it's possible for the film to end with the Autobot scout sending a message to Optimus Prime that Earth is worth keeping an eye on, and that he plans to hang around for awhile. Two decades might seem like a long time for Bumblebee to lay low on Earth, but for robots that live millions of years, twenty years is a pit stop.
Ending the movie in that way would not only directly set up Bay's films, it could also be a nice echo of the way each of those films ended; all of them concluded with Optimus narrating an altruistic message - sometimes to other Autobots out in the cosmos, sometimes to no one in particular.