In Michael Bay’s films, he destroys the world with alien robots, asteroids or the trigger-happy pairing of Will Smith and Martin Lawrence — the kind of stuff that never happens in real life. But, occasionally, he’ll put his trademark stamp (or explosion) on a real-word event. Consider Pearl Harbor, which dropped a love triangle on the ill-fated date of December 7, 1941. Or his most recent gift to history buffs everywhere — 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi, which is supposedly based on a nonfiction book about the deeply politicized terrorist attack. But why stop there? Here are a few under-examined moments from the past that could use the Michael Bay treatment.
The Boston Tea Party
Bay’s version: Spilling Tea
Tagline: Steep or be steeped.
Remember the Boston Tea Party? Sure you do: Scores of Americans — furious about being taxed by the British without representation — boarded East India Company ships and dumped thousands of pounds of tea into Boston Harbor. It was a wild scene! One ripe for power ballads and unexpected explosions. But what happened before the ocean colored brown with victory? And who did its steeping? In Spilling Tea, we find three young, strapping Americans (Finn Wittrock, Jack O’Connell and Ansel Elgort) on the edge of revolt — and, naturally, a sexual awakening — as they discover what it means to be an American. Bonus twist: The three Patriots are all in love with Violet Cunningham (Bella Thorne): the British daughter of Boston’s most successful tobacco tycoon. Love triangle? Try love square. With Bay, it’s go big or go home (to England).
Sherman’s March to the Sea
Bay’s version: The March
Tagline: How’s this for northern aggression?
In this three-hour Civil War epic, we follow General William Tecumseh Sherman (Michael Shannon) as he leads his Union troops (including, Bradley Cooper, Ed Norton and Seth MacFarlane) on a month-long journey through the South — destroying everything remotely related to the Confederacy with improbable balls of fire. Beginning at a plantation outside Atlanta, Sherman’s troops free a few dozen slaves — one of which, Joseph (John Boyega), decides to join his march. And though the Union troops are against slavery, they find it hard to deal with a black man on their side. Thankfully, Joseph eventually manages to befriend them all, even homesick heartthrob, Frank (Zac Efron). In fact, Frank and Joseph become so close that their friendship begins to grow into something … more. Will Sherman’s march be the conduit to forbidden love?
The Great Depression
Bay’s version: Wrath
Tagline: These grapes are mad as hell.
Just one year after its release in 1939, John Steinbeck’s classic Great Depression-era novel The Grapes of Wrath was adapted into an award-winning masterpiece starring Henry Fonda. But you know what? 70 years is long enough to wait for a remake. In Wrath, Bay takes on the Depression, casting Chris Hemsworth to show off his biceps (and American accent!) as a millennial version of Tom Joad — a down-on-his-luck criminal seeking revenge on the wealthy, northern California farmers responsible for his poverty. He’ll invite former preacher Jim Casy (Liam Hemsworth) along for the ride: A road trip down Route 66 will go awry as members of the Joad family start to die off (cue Diane Warren-penned ballad, “The Long Road”), and Jim and Tom prepare to take on California.
The Assassination Attempt of Gerald Ford
Bay’s version: They Called Her Squeaky
Tagline: Lynette Fromme wasn’t just another Manson girl.
Everyone knows about John Wilkes Booth’s assassination of Abraham Lincoln; everyone knows about Lee Harvey Oswald assassinated John F. Kennedy. People even remember John Hinckley Jr.’s fateful shot at Ronald Reagan. But apart from her name, very few know about the life of Lynette “Squeaky” Fromme — one of the only two women to ever attempt an assassination. In this stunning and sexy biopic, Bay examines the life of Squeaky (Saoirse Ronan like you’ve never seen her before) as she goes from failed dancer to giddy Manson follower (played by Shia LaBeouf, in a darkly hilarious cameo) to attempted assassin of the President of the United States. (Just wait until you see Bradley Whitford as President Ford!)
The Blizzard of 2016
Bay’s version: Supply Run
Tagline: In this checkout line, it’s 10 items…or death.
What was supposed to be just a typical January weekend — in a post-global warming climate — quickly became … Jonas. A storm was brewing in the Atlantic and the masses needed to prepare. In the claustrophobic action-thriller, Supply Run, Bay reimagines the blizzard of January 2016 in real-time — following a family man (newly-buff Adam DeVine) as he gets caught in a hostage situation at a crowded Upper East Side grocery store — there just isn’t enough fresh kale for all of New York City. If that isn’t enough, they just got news that someone in this grocery store … is in ISIS. As the snow piles up outside, unlucky shoppers (including, Lena Dunham and Lena Headey) start to lose it with fear. Will they make it home alive, or will he take their last breath in the dairy section?
Bobby Finger is a writer at Jezebel and co-host of Who? Weekly, the podcast. In these parts, he was last heard on Rewatch talking about how Now That’s What I Call Music 2 introduced him to U2.