A Bay’s Eye View

I’m sure you’ve heard by now that Michael Bay has hired Mark Wahlberg (a.k.a. Marky Mark of the Funky Bunch) to play the leading man in the upcoming “Transformers 4.” Shia LeBeouf’s character in the first three films never really grew up, so seeing an adult male lead teaming up with the autobots should be an interesting change for fans of the franchise.

Wahlberg and Bay just finished filming “Pain and Gain” together, and, apparently,  the two worked together so well that they’re both ready to go back for more. Wahlberg has demonstrated a great range of acting chops from the comedic to the dramatic, so expect great things from the alum of “Boogie Nights,” “The Fighter,” and “Ted.”

So why did Michael Bay decide to cast Wahlberg as the new leading man of the franchise? In this month’s POP of the Month, we get some insight thanks to our inside man, Casey Farley from DigitalPros.

So Good, It’s Unbelievable

The new lead characters were previously rumored to be a female high school senior and her boyfriend, a Texas race-car driver. The “news” was interpreted to mean the female role would be the protagonist. With the casting of the very adult Wahlberg, it is hard to imagine playing him against a girlfriend young enough to be in high school. Either the rumors were false all along, or Bay has taken a new approach altogether.

So far, no credible sources have released any firm details about the film’s plot or other new characters. Presumably, the Internet is abuzz because a female protagonist would have been a paradigm shift for Bay. His work has previously centered primarily on male protagonists, specifically “manly” men.

Leading Qualities

“Bad Boys,” one of Bay’s hit films, is the epitome of his filmmaking style: big explosions, lots of action, imperfect but masculine male protagonists who must overcome action-packed obstacles to save the world — or at least their community. This style of film is Bay’s bread-and-butter, and he is good at it. No one guessed how commercially successful the Transformers franchise would be, except Bay, perhaps. Take a look at the negotiation he did on the contract. He’ll be making money off those films for probably the rest of his life based on the smart negotiation.

Bay gets a lot of flack for being sexist. Maybe it’s because he chooses sexy female leads, or maybe it’s because he’s so good at making women look good on film. Before making blockbuster films, Bay was making Victoria’s Secret ads, something he still does today between projects. It shouldn’t be considered an insult to woman-kind to make your heroines look good on screen. We, the audience, go to see Bay’s films (and other similar movies) for their escapist qualities, immersing ourselves in a fantasy world for a few hours.

Au Contraire

In the films he makes, it would be almost an insult to the audience to show off the lead actor and actress in unflattering ways. Just because Megan Fox’s character in in the first two films was tremendously sexy didn’t mean she was helpless or setting back feminism 50 years. On the contrary, her character was, in some ways, more capable and useful than the hero of the piece — she was certainly better with cars.

So, Marky Mark is on board, but we may still find ourselves watching a female protagonist with a male sidekick in “Transformers 4” — or not.

© POPCulture Online 2012, All Rights Reserved.

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