[UPDATE: Michael Bay has announced via his Website that Wahlberg WON'T be joining the cast of Transformers 4.]
Right now Michael Bay is hard at work on his "small-scale film," Pain & Gain, a true-life tale which stars Mark Wahlberg and Dwayne Johnson as two body-builders-turned-gangsters. While we wait to see what Bay does with a scaled-down crime drama/dark comedy, the majority of fan attention is still focused on his upcoming fourth entry in the Transformers franchise, tentatively titled Transformers 4 (at least until one of those highly-questionable subtitles gets attached to it - 'Light of the Sun,' perhaps?).
However, there may be some carry-over between the two Bay films (beyond the director himself), as it's now being reported that Mark Wahlberg could be in early talks to star in Transformers 4.
For those who don't know, Transformers 4 is said to be the start of a new trilogy - one which Bay will kick-off with the fourth film, before retiring from the franchise and handing over the reigns to a new director. Of course, we heard that same promise during the lead-up to Transformers: Dark of the Moon - and yet, here we stand.
One of the initial rumors surrounding TF4 was that it would jettison the human cast of the first trilogy - stars Shia LaBeouf, Josh Duhamel, Tyrese Gibson and Rosie Huntington-Whiteley (Megan Fox already got dropped from the franchise) - in favor of introducing a new storyline featuring new human characters in what was basically a quasi-reboot. Since then, it's been indeed confirmed that the human portion of the film will be getting some fresh blood - though recent plot hints from Bay himself have suggested the story won't be quite as fresh as we were initially led to believe.
In any event, once it became know that new actors were being brought in to bolster all the robot vs. robot action, speculation ran rampant about just who might be cast. An early rumor pointed to action aficionado Jason Statham leading the franchise - though Statham himself later shot that down. More recently, we've heard word that new Transformer robots will be featured in the new film, and (more troubling) that the new human leads could potentially be a high school girl and her speed-racing boyfriend - a rumor that, if true, would pretty much kill the promise that Transformers 4 will be more serious than its predecessors.
Fast-forward to the here and now, and this Mark Wahlberg rumor being reported by Twitch once again begs the question of what kind of film Bay and Transformers 3 screenwriter Ehren Kruger are sculpting:
- One that truly does take a fresh approach with a new adult protagonist (such as Wahlberg).
- One that treads similar ground by having a young male/female couple as protagonists (like LaBeouf and his Transformers co-star Megan Fox).
- One that dives deep into the same well, by having a combination of young teenagers and adult, action-oriented protagonists (as we saw in the previous three films).
At this early stage there really is no way to call it for sure - everything we've heard lately is just RUMOR until proven otherwise. However, with each new Transformers installment we've been fed the promise of having more robot action, less sappy teenage drama, and much less crude (at times offensive) juvenile humor. And, each and every time, that promise has ultimately gone unfulfilled.
I say all that to ask: Do we really expect Bay to change up the formula now, when the franchise's box office earnings are over $2.5 billion (and counting)? With money like that, it would be easy to argue that the formula "works" - though, you won't really hear us championing that opinion...
Would you like to see Mark Wahlberg stepping in to lead the franchise? If so: do you want to see him as the primary protagonist, or starring alongside some younger characters?
Transformers 4 will be in theaters on June 29, 2014.