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Bumblebee will return to 1980s Volkswagen mode in next Transformers movie

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Bumblebee is going back to bug form.

In an effort to expand the Transformers cinematic universe, the next movie in the franchise after this weekend’s The Last Knight will roll back the clock and take place in the era that first defined the shapeshifting alien robots: the 1980s.

“You might even see a VW Bug,” Transformers producer Lorenzo di Bonaventura tells EW. “You never know.”

Except … yeah, count on it.

Before he became a sleek Chevy Camaro in the hands of Michael Bay, the littlest Autobot took the form of a roly-poly yellow Volkswagen Beetle, which Bay’s 2007 movie dissed in a joke set at a used car lot.

Paramount/Hasbro

Now, with Travis Knight, director of Kubo and the Two Strings, overseeing the Bumblebee stand-alone, the Transformers franchise is embracing its history.

“The interesting thing about doing a spin-off is it has to have some familiarity with the franchise, and then it has to have its own distinct qualities for it to stand on its own,” di Bonaventura says. After that, Paramount is trying to see if Transformers — and a few other Hasbro toy properties, like M.A.S.K. — can become part of an expanded universe.

Obviously, the Bumblebee film serves as a kind of prequel to the Bay movies.

“It’s the story of a 17-, 18-year-old girl who, through a series of events, she and Bumblebee find each other, and they make each other whole,” di Bonaventura said. “Bumblebee’s a very loving character. He’s got a lot of heart, so of course the idyllic life of these two is interrupted by the evil Decepticons. And how are they going to be able to deal with the problem without Optimus and without everybody else?”

True Grit and The Edge of Seventeen actress Hailee Steinfeld has been in talks to play the lead role, and the movie is set to begin filming in August with plans to be in theaters by next summer.

Little brothers, guard your shoulders. This time next year, it’ll be Punch Bug season.