These days, John Cena may be best recognized as a franchise leader in James Gunn’s DC cinematic universe, starring as Peacemaker in both 2021’s The Suicide Squad and the Max series, which bares the characters’ name. However, long before the former wrestler made a successful transition into full-time Hollywood acting, he would dabble in a number of major blockbusters, which catapulted him into the mainstream film sphere. One such movie, 2018’s Bumblebee, is available to stream now on Paramount+.
John Cena is a no-nonsense military leader in Bumblebee, the highest-rated film of the Transformers franchise.
Bumblebee stars John Cena alongside Jorge Lendeborg Jr, Jason Drucker, Stephen Schneider, comedy legend Pamela Adlon, and Spider-Man: Across The Spider-Verse star Hailee Steinfeld. The film centers around the titular Transformer, best known for his exploits across the big screen with the rest of his team of Autobots. The film was the sixth in the Transformers live-action film series and the first not to be directed by Michael Bay, who worked on the movie in the role of a producer.
Despite arriving as the sixth film in the franchise, Bumblebee serves as a prequel to the first five Transformers films, taking place in the 1980s. The John Cena-led film grossed over $468 million at the worldwide box office against an estimated budget of $135 million, marking it as a certified hit, and paving the way for the sequel, Transformers: Rise of the Beasts, which premiered just a few months ago.
Bumblebee also has far and away the highest Rotten Tomatoes score of any film in the franchise, clocking in with a shocking 91 percent certified fresh score.
Though each of the Michael Bay-directed films in the Transformers franchise touts massive box office returns, the films routinely receive Rotten Tomatoes scores under the 50 percent mark. 2017’s Transformers: The Last Knight is the lowest-scoring film in the franchise, with an abysmal 15 percent score. Bumblebee was praised for its refreshing setting, daring set pieces, and excellent performances from Hailee Steinfeld and John Cena respectively.
Bumblebee was one of John Cena’s biggest hits at the box office, earning nearly half a billion dollars.
The film begins on the planet Cybertron as Optimus Prime and his cohorts, the Autobots, prepare to flee to Earth in an escape pod. After crash-landing in California in the year 1987, Bumblebee finds himself on the radar of John Cena’s special agent Jack Burns, who works for a secret military organization called Sector 7.
Meanwhile, Bumblebee, who hides in plain sight in the form of a Volkswagen Beetle in a local scrapyard, is given as a gift to an 18-year-old girl named Charlie Watson, portrayed by Hailee Steinfeld.
Charlie quickly uncovers Bumblebee’s true identity and accidentally activates a homing signal which gives the Autobot’s new location away to the Decepticons back on Cybertron. Tensions continue to rise as Charlie and Bumblebee work together to avoid the clutches of both John Cena and the Decepticons, who seem to be a step ahead of them at every turn. High-octane action sequences abound as the pair work together to reach safety.
Following the success of Bumblebee, John Cena went on to star in such Hollywood blockbusters as F9: The Fast Saga and The Suicide Squad. This year alone, Cena appeared as a leading performer in a number of major studio films, including Fast X, Hidden Strike, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem, as well as a brief cameo appearance in Barbie.
After his early stumble with The Marine, John Cena is now a bonafide movie star and a part of multiple blockbuster franchises.
Without even taking into consideration John Cena’s WWE Smackdown and WWE Raw credits, which accumulate to more than 700 credited appearances, Cena currently has more than 70 film and television appearances listed on IMDb, with over half a dozen in various stages of active production.
While Cena seems to have settled into his position as a big-time action performer, some of his best work is done in the comedy niche, with upcoming plans to appear in films alongside comedy legends such as Ronny Chang and Lil Rel Howery, Alison Brie, Will Forte, and director Peter Farrelly in a number of forthcoming projects.
While there’s no telling how the ongoing SAG-AFTRA strike will impact any of the scheduled films John Cena is currently attached to, it seems clear that his star has only continued to rise since he successfully made the pivot to blockbuster acting. For those who may have missed the highest-rated film in the entire Transformers franchise, Bumblebee is currently available to stream on Paramount+.