The ‘True Grit’ and ‘Edge of Seventeen’ star follows in the footsteps of other promising actors in joining a multimillion dollar franchise.
Franchise films and multi-universe worlds made watchable thanks to talented actors is not a new concept. 2016 saw Benedict Cumberbatch and Mads Mikkelsen join the Marvel Cinematic Universe with Dr. Strange, while Scarlett Johansson and Chris Evans were propelled to superstar-level fame with Marvel’s The Avengers franchise.
Now, actress and pop star Hailee Steinfeld is following in the indie-actress-turned-franchise-star footsteps set up by Johansson and co. with Steinfeld eyeing the Transformers spin-off film Bumblebee.
As Variety reports, Steinfeld is “in talks” to star in what will be the franchise’s first spin-off movie. In 2015, Paramount set-up a Transformers universe-based writers room, with the likes of The Walking Dead creator Robert Kirkman and Iron Man scribes Art Marcum & Matt Holloway penning original ideas for spin-off movies. Heading up the writers room, Akiva Goldsman (I Am Legend) said in 2015 that it expands on film’s increasingly “serialized [form of] storytelling,” although this could also be seen as an excuse for a lack of ideas.
Whilst no plot details for Bumblebee have been released, however, viewers can expect something different from Michael Bay’s explosion-heavy series of movies. With not only Steinfeld attached but also Kubo and the Two Strings director Travis Knight set to make his live-action directorial debut, Bumblebee has good talent behind it. As Gizmodo notes, rather than their robot counterparts, humans are often the focus of the Transformer movies — Steinfeld’s role would surely take center-stage in the film.
Yet, Steinfeld and Knight’s talent is also what makes this news so disheartening. With Kubo, Knight proved both his technical and imaginative skill in directing, pulling off one of the best and most ambitious animations released in the 2010s. Meanwhile, a prodigy actress like Steinfeld, who’s performance in The Edge of Seventeen has received rave reviews. Both deserve films that challenge them rather than have films that rely solely on their talent to make it work.
Of course, Bumblebee, a film named after a transforming car, could, in some universe, surprise audiences and rid of the Transformers fatigue and actually be good. But with global audience appeal at stake, it’s more likely Knight and Steinfeld will be held back.
Christina Hodson (Shut In, Unforgettable) wrote the script, with a 2018 release date. Steinfeld can next be seen in another less action-packed but also profitable franchise, Pitch Perfect 3.