Finally, there’s Buster. Anyone familiar from the old Marvel Transformers comic will recognize him. Despite wearing the same pink shirt for 99 straight issues, and despite being the first in a long line of teenage, human sidekicks, Buster was one of the best. He gave the war between the Transformers a human face, and through him we understood just how giant those robots were and how dangerous their existence on our planet was. While ostensibly an Autobot ally, he had complicated feelings about the Transformers as time went on. His arc, as he grew into adulthood, was more about the loss of innocence to war. While Cena is much too old to play a teen, Buster was a long-standing character, who was well into his forties by the time Regeneration One wrapped up his story.
Outside of the inescapable Witwicky family is Garrison Blackrock. Like most long-term human characters in the Transformers, he’s had his origins tweaked depending on the continuity. Originally a successful businessman, Blackrock became a major supporter of the Autobots and used his own money to create a superhuman defense force known as the Neo-Knights (who were definitely not anything at all like the Fantastic Four. Not at all. No.) In the current continuity (from IDW Publishing), Blackrock is Titan Master disguised as a human; in Blade Runner terms, he’s a skin-job.
The chances of Cena playing a comic-accurate Blackrock is as likely him playing Chip “Courage!” Chase. However, Blackrock had some moments of interspersed badassery. Considering his modern incarnation as a Transformers cousin, Blackrock’s a unique character with the potential to surprise audiences while also living up to the expectation that Cena will be heavily involved in action scenes.
While Cena could end up playing any number of established characters, it is highly likely that Bumblebee will go with Cade Yaeger route and give his character a vaguely familiar biography. However, as audacious as it would be to go the route of a female Spike with a younger Sparkplug, Cena is still better at playing military characters.
What may be more audacious - if not just as unlikely - would be that Cena is someone from the Hasbro shared universe. With Marvel and DC telling expansive stories in several films, Hasbro has desired to do the same with their properties licensed through Paramount. Recently, the company has confirmed that both their comic book and movie properties for Transformers and G.I. Joe operate in the same universe. The two franchises have already seen innumerable crossovers over the years, but the latest one is now officially canon. It also included Hasbro’s latest acquisition: Rom, which tested fan interest in expanded use of the character.
Hasbro and Paramount have been quiet as to where and when their shared film universe will begin or what it will contain. However, Hasbro’s properties contain a treasure trove of 80s nostalgia, comprising The Transformers, G.I. Joe, Micronauts, Rom, Jem and the Holograms, Action Man (not the one from The Venture Bros.), M.A.S.K., Clue (yes, the board game; worked out well for Battleship, didn’t it?) and Visionaries.
With the desire to lure back lapsed/exhausted fans, the combination of possibly returning the franchise to its roots along with the fan-wank of a shared universe nod would help bring some curious audience members back into the fold. Accounting for these other franchises, Cena’s potential roles grow exponentially. He could be playing one of the Mayhem brothers from M.A.S.K., the titular Rom or the Action Man - hell, with how bizarre all this is anyway, John Cena could be playing Colonel Mustard. His first case should be an investigation into the deaths of AJ Styles and Shinsuke Nakamura’s main event pushes.
However, John Cena could be portraying Dashiell R. Faireborn - better known as Flint, the G.I. Joe warrant officer. If that’s true, it would potentially set Hailee Steinfeld up as his daughter, Marissa Faireborn, who would be - depending on how old the character is that she’s playing - active during the current live-action Transformers films. It would also set Cena up for a major role in a potential G.I. Joe reboot; his nascent film career has flourished as his time as an active professional wrestler winds down. It would make sense for him to take a noticeable but familiar role that comes with the possibility of stabilized franchise work in the future.
Given the track record that the live-action portion of the franchise has, it’s unlikely that Cena’s character will be anything other than we’re expecting: a two-dimensional blue-collar hero scuttling around while giant, colorful garbage cans smash into each other for nearly three incomprehensible hours. Considering the character depth of Cade Yaeger and the likability of Sam Witwicky, Cena’s character will be the spiritual successor to Jan Minikaze, Daniel Witwicky, and Kicker Jones. No, he will not be playing Abdul Fakkadi, the Supreme Military Commander, President-for-Life, and King of Kings of the Socialist Democratic Federated Republic of Carbombya, but a boy can dream, can’t he?
- Bumblebee (2018) release date: Dec 21, 2018