Michael Bay, long accused of creating films that sexualize women and over-exalt the testosterone-charged theatrics of “manly” men, is the last person you’d expect to have a girl-power-endorsing trailer tied to his name. And yet, the improbable has happened with the latest marketing bit for Transformers: The Last Knight, which features a tween-aged girl not only doing badass things, but also calling out the people that doubted her ability to do so.
The trailer is structured like a fictional behind-the-scenes featurette in which the girl, named Izzy in the film and played by Isabela Moner, speaks to the camera about her experience living in the Transformers universe while footage of her in action plays between shots of her talking. According to Izzy, central to her backstory is being teased by other kids for fighting and running “like a girl,” a taunt that she responds to by staring defiantly into the camera and demanding, “Don’t you?”
Whether the trailer’s feminist gesture is genuine or tokenistic remains to be seen, but regardless, the gesture alone is not insignificant. For kids enamored enough by the idea of big robots slugging it out to keep up to date with the Last Knight’s marketing campaign, this newest trailer may even be instructive in the way that Zootopia was last year.
All this said, politics alone, while certainly capable of breaking a film, do not automatically a great film make—a movie can be wide-eyed woke and still be a cinematic trash heap. Frankly, the trailer’s Baysian pyrotechnics and unfunny “comedic” moments foretell a return to the abysmal territory that marked the worst of the series thus far, though, granted, there is, as there always has been, enough visual distinctiveness to suggest that Bay could truly become a formidable auteur if he just thought his projects through a bit more.
Check out the full trailer above, and see the film when it debuts nationwide on June 23.