The opening scene of Bumblebee features a brawl between Autobots and Decepticons on their mechanical home world of Cybertron — but there’s one villain who escaped the carnage.
Director Travis Knight tells EW he almost had the leader of the Decepticons appear. Almost.
With Bumblebee hitting Blu-ray this week, here’s the untold story of how Megatron would have changed the balance of power in the latest Transformers movie.
“I stuffed the scene with so much,” Knight says. “The way that I originally pitched it was essentially it’s the opening moments of the ’80s cartoons fused with Saving Private Ryan.
“I wanted us to feel like we are in the battle with the robots at that time,” he says.
But there were some things that just had to be cut, partly due to budget and partly due to story continuity.
“I had this whole thing that I boarded out myself where I had Megatron in there,” Knight says. “He comes into the scene just absolutely leveling sh—, just laying waste to everything in his path like Sauron in The Lord of the Rings.”
The producers of Bumblebee weren’t sure how much fans expected the new film to match up with the earlier ones, so that weighed against adding Megatron to the opening battle.
Knight also redesigned all his Transformers to look more like their Generation One — or G1 — original forms from the ’80s. We’d have seen something similar with the big bad.
“We had a [new] design and a partial build and everything,” Knight says. “I was so excited, I couldn’t wait to do it, but then as we started going through, it was going to be too expensive and really did fly in the face of continuity with the [Michael] Bay films.”
He adds with a laugh: “But let’s be honest, I’m sure they have a fleeting sense of continuity themselves.”
Bumblebee is set in 1987, and at that point in the Bay storyline, an unconscious Megatron has been extracted from his arctic tomb and is being held inside a government base beneath the Hoover Dam.
Putting Megatron in Bumblebee “created issues for people who were unfamiliar with the franchise,” Knight says. “I wanted to make sure this film was a tribute to the live-action films as well as the cartoon, that there were layers of enjoyment for fans of both.”
Knight even experimented with adding his Megatron to the background of the Sector 7 base inside the Hoover Dam.
“We even caught a glimpse of him in the outside the war room, where the Sector 7 guys are wondering what they should do with these Decepticons,” he says. “There were a couple shots were we just caught a fleeting glimpse of a frozen Megatron in the background.”
But then the filmmakers began to worry about too much mythology overwhelming the casual fans. Knight knew some wouldn’t remember that chronology from the Bay films, and the plot of Bumblebee wasn’t about to stop and explain the frozen robot villain in the background.
Knight says the movie had to work for “someone who didn’t know anything about the Transformers, so they could sit and enjoy the film and wouldn’t be bummed by those dense layers of mythology.
“You have to make choices in terms of what’s more important for the movie,” he adds.
Megatron would be incensed to be left out. But maybe he’ll rise again another day.