Is 'Transformers 3' Michael Bay's Last Hurrah With The Franchise?

Michael BayLast summer's "Transformers" sequel may have boasted the subtitle "Revenge of the Fallen," but it's the third installment in the robot-smashing franchise that could be borrowing the implications of that subtitle. Even Shia LaBeouf has owned up to the failings of "Transformers 2," and in an interview with USA Today, director Michael Bay himself followed suit — but he believes that "Transformers 3" will be better.

There's a new villain in the form of Shockwave, a longtime "Transformers" character who lords over Cybertron while the Autobots and Decepticons are smashing each other to pieces on Earth. The film will deal with the space race between the USA and the U.S.S.R. But most importantly, "Transformers 3" will put a cap on Bay's trilogy, as the director explained: "[The franchise] could be rebooted again, but I think it has a really killer ending."

In other words, there's a very real possibility that this is Bay's swan song when it comes to the "Transformers" series.

Clearly, Bay is a divisive filmmaker — either you love him or you hate him. But I think Bay ending "Transformers" with the third installment is a good thing for both camps. For the people who love him, you can be sure that the man is going to go balls-to-the-walls with his final entry in the fan-favorite series, more so than he's done already. That means more explosions, bigger explosions and even more ridiculous one-liners. (Just don't expect too many robot testicles or a reappearance of the Twins, as Bay said that the "dorky comedy" is gone in round three.) Without a doubt, his supporters are going to have a fantastic time at the movies.

But those who aren't fans of Bay's work can go into this final film with a glimmer of hope: it sounds as if the man is putting his final stamp on his vision of "Transformers," so the franchise's purest, most old school fans will very likely never have to deal with him again. Put some hope in the fact that a reboot is on the way, one that's more faithful to the original cartoons and comics, and take in Bay's final "Transformers" movie for what it is — a hilarious if messy masterpiece.

But unless "Transformers 3" is a box office bomb, the show will go on. Assuming the film does business on an even remotely similar level to its predecessors, we'll see further "Transformers" films. The question is, where should the franchise go? Would you want to see a full-on reboot of the series with new characters and actors? Do the Autobots and Decepticons need reintroductions, or should a new story simply relocate these pre-established designs and personalities to another part of the globe sans Shia, Bay and company?

Of course — and this is the part where the anti-Bay crowd can feel free to boo and hiss — if "Transformers 3" does phenomenal business, is there really a chance that he'll leave the franchise entirely? Paramount would be foolish to let the filmmaker walk away from the series altogether given the amount of commercial success these movies have enjoyed.

Then again, if there's one thing that the director's reputation tells us, it's this: nobody makes Michael Bay do anything except Michael Bay himself. If he wants more "Transformers," he'll make more. If he's done, he's done. When all is wrapped on "Transformers 3" — filming, post-production, box office returns and all — we'll see how the filmmaker is feeling.