Less machismo could be the antidote to the movie franchise’s ills

The first trailer of Bumblebee has arrived, and it’s already a massive departure from the testosterone-laden theme of the first five movies in the Transformers franchise. The trailer doesn’t reveal much in the way of the actual storyline of the movie, but it already paints a clear picture that this prequel will be operating more on an emotional level, focusing on the relationship between the fan-favorite Autobot and his first human friend, Charlie Watson, played by Haley Steinfeld.


After five movies in the last ten years, it’s safe to say that we can all look back at the Transformers movie franchise and say that it fell off a cliff after the second movie, Revenge of the Fallen. The first movie, Transformers, was always going to be a hit, in part because it was the first time we’d see one of the greatest toy lines in history get adapted as a live-action movie.

But a big part of what made it resonate to all of us was that it tapped into the budding relationship between Shia LaBeouf’s Sam Witwicky and Bumblebee, who, at that time, was said to be a teenager. Regardless of his age, it was that relationship that served as the foundation of the movie because it reminded all of us of our relationships with our own Transformers toys when we were growing up. Paramount Pictures used that same formula to a lesser extent in the second movie, but everything changed by the time the third movie, Dark of the Moon, arrived.

"Bumblebee" Could Be the Transformers Movie We've All Been Waiting For
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The story-driven arc that made the first movie so successful was replaced by over-the-top machismo

From there, Transformers became less about relationships and more about guns, explosions, and never-ending conspiracies of Transformers being a part of our world for a long time. The story-driven arc that made the first movie so successful was replaced by over-the-top machismo. It’s not a coincidence that the quality of the third, fourth, and fifth movies deteriorated from there. I’m a big Transformers fan, but I didn’t even bother watching the fifth installment, The Last Knight.

The decline in quality of the movies forced Paramount to reevaluate the future of the franchise. Instead of going on the same tired and expensive route, the studio decided to go with a smaller-scale reboot, focusing solely on the story of the franchise’s most popular sentient being, Bumblebee.

I can’t say with absolute certainty that the Bumblebee movie is going to be a big hit, but it was the absolute right movie for Paramount to make. According to reports, the studio is shifting gears as far as the direction of the franchise is concerned. Instead of having a whole universe to itself, Transformers will now be part of a shared-universe with other Hasbro properties, including G.I. Joe, M.A.S.K., Visionaries, and Micronauts. I’m not sure how that’s going to work, but it is interesting to think about.

"Bumblebee" Could Be the Transformers Movie We've All Been Waiting For
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It’s awesome to see the Bumblebee trailer explore more of that already than any of the last three movies put together.

I am excited about Bumblebee for the same reasons I was excited about the first Transformers movie. Sure, it’s going to have its share of explosions, but it can be argued that the Michael Bay formula was what doomed the movie franchise in the first place. Less fighting and more character exposition worked so well on the first movie. It’s awesome to see the Bumblebee trailer explore more of that already than any of the last three movies put together.

As adults who grew up on playing these toys, we crave for the sense of earnestness that made our imaginations go wild back in the day. We didn’t want to be Bumblebee or Optimus Prime. We wanted to be Sam Witwicky or Charlie Watson. We didn’t care so much about the intergalactic feud between the Autobots and Decepticons and all the auto-fluid bloodshed that became a part of it. We just wanted to be the human who had giant robots as friends.

"Bumblebee" Could Be the Transformers Movie We've All Been Waiting For
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Judging by the trailer, there’s hope that Bumblebee is going to take that direction. It’s still going to have its action sequences — no Transformers movie is complete without them — but if the movie focuses more on the relationships that kids can relate to, it could be the magic elixir that breathes new life to the movie franchise.

Further reading

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Source: YouTube - Paramount

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