In Bumblebee, John Cena plays the antagonist to the movie’s hero.  But his charismatic performance as Jack Burns, still makes the audience want to root for him.  Now, he talks about Burns, director Travis Knight, and a connection to another popular Hasbro franchise.

Bumblebee Trailer screen grab
Credit: Paramount Pictures


In a recent interview, John Cena spoke about his character’s relationship to Bumblebee and the other Transformers in the film (via Screen Rant).  “Well, hearkening back to the first meeting in the movie, it’s confrontational. And as a soldier and a protector, his job is to eliminate the threat. He’s seen these things up close. He has knowledge no one else has. So, his opinion is eliminate the threat.

“And every other meeting he has with the Decepticons, including their name, he views this like, “Why don’t you guys see these things are bad?” I’m going to throw everything I’ve got to stop them. So, it’s great to see his character through the movie, be open minded enough to absorb information. Because that leads to a nice little subplot in the movie. But his job is to eliminate threat.”


Bumblebee is set in 1987 California.  If actually made in the eighties, John Cena would be the film’s Hollywood action star.  Talking about the setting, Cena said, “So, cool thing about that. I was a huge fan of eighties action movies. But you want to talk about how far we’ve come, and we still have a ways to go. But there’s a great step in the evolution of telling stories and how we define strong and brave. You shoot this movie in the eighties, you’re talking to the hero [pointing to himself].”

“And now you’re talking to the bad guy, who has all the personality traits of an 80’s hero. So, I really think it’s awesome to have a powerful strong movie with a young female lead. It gives us a chance to tell better stories as performers and storytellers. And to take that perception of tough, and make it a misunderstood bad guy, or an ignorant bad guy. So, that was a really cool thing.”


The reviews for Bumblebee are overwhelmingly positive, 97% on Rotten Tomatoes.  Director Travis Knight has a lot to do with its success. “Bold choices, a risk taker,” Cena said about Knight. “I think he knew the pressures he had going into this. The franchise was defined a certain way and it was really tough to redefine that. We had to start marketing the long lead, because he knew he had all these aces in his back pocket.”

“A choice to make Bumblebee look beat up, a choice to make him a Beetle, a lovable, peaceful, reliable car. Like, you can’t help but feel for the car. And then when Bee changes, he looks so human, Gen 1. But look at his eyes in the hero poster. That’s not a bad ass hero. That’s, “What the hell’s going on?!” You know, like that’s, there’s a difference there. And that makes the relationship powerful. That makes you want to root for Bee, which makes you feel like a kid again.”


Recently, Hasbro has been making attempts to form a cohesive universe with all its toy franchises.  In 2016, comic books published by IDW, launched the REVOLUTION storyline.  It was a major crossover involving Transformers, G.I. Joe, Micronauts, ROM, Action Man, and M.A.S.K. (Mobile Armored Strike Kommand).  Humanity is drawn into an intergalactic war involving the Cybertronians, the denizens of the Microverse, and the space knights of ROM.  The Earth reacts by sending out G.I. Joe, Action Man, and the experimental team M.A.S.K.

A recent fan theory states that Bumblebee is not just a Transformers reboot, but a G.I. Joe one as well.  And John Cena’s Agent Burns could really be an alias of Conrad “Duke” Hauser, one of G.I. Joe’s top soldiers.  When told about the theory, Cena said, “As like a geek of those universes colliding, I think that is a tremendous idea. But once again, we are the lowlies. All we can do is use our voice, make this movie, and hopefully the people making the movie, or fans, could agree with us or disagree. If it’s not me, and I’m very thankful for the kind words, I just think these two franchises have so many connections. And in a world of universes colliding, I think this is a perfect match. Whether I’m in it or not, I hope to see it.”