In Memorium: Mikaela Banes (Transformers)
This post is a little out-of-date in terms of the subject matter, but Transformers: The Dark of the Moon hasn't come out yet, so it could still be appropriate.
By now, I imagine everybody has heard that Megan Fox will not be returning for the film and that her character Mikaela Banes has been replaced with a new character named Carly, who appeared in the original series as the girlfriend and later wife of the original "Spike" Witwicky.
However much I can understand why Michael Bay would not want Megan Fox around (really, publicly comparing a Jewish director to Hitler was not cool), replacing Mikaela with an entirely new character rather than simply recasting her (as was done when Katie Holmes did not wish to return for The Dark Knight) is really going to be problematic for the story.
Let's see--given Sam's age and fixation on cars and girls in the first movie, chances are Mikaela was his first girlfriend. And due to the whole alien-invasion thing, they'd been through a colossal amount of crap together, crap that could break a lesser couple. Ending such a relationship would be extremely difficult to say the least--what problems people in a relationship typically have compare to surviving repeated attacks by evil extraterrestrials and a near-death experience?
Given how they re-shot the scenes Fox had already performed with the new actress playing the new character, it seems to me they'll simply shoehorn Carly in Mikaela's place without an explanation and that would just be gorram ridiculous.
The only thing I can possibly think of that could explain this in a non-idiotic manner is if Mikaela's dad was the cause of the problem. In the first movie, Sam freaks out upon learning of Mikaela's criminal background (she said her crime was refusing to testify against her dad, but she *does* know how to hot-wire cars). If her father backslides into his criminal ways and Mikaela refuses to cut ties with him (as would be in-character), that could be a major problem for Sam.
If this were the cause of the breakup I've read about, it left Sam seriously despondent (as it likely would), and it was Carly who pulled him out of it, I could buy Mikaela being replaced by an entirely new character.
But given the plot problems that Revenge of the Fallen had, something tells me including an intelligent explanation is not going to happen. I don't despise Michael Bay like some people do, but when a film wastes its potential to the point it inspires one to write a "fix fic" to do it better (my story The Revenge of the Fallen Reboot), that's pretty bad.
And I'm probably one of the few people who actually like the character of Mikaela Banes. Most people thought she was basically there to have Megan Fox run around looking hot (and were quite satisfied) and/or provide a "trophy" for Sam, but she was a lot more developed than that.
*Firstly, she had a particular skill--her mechanical abilities. And these skills actually played a part in the story, when she hot-wired a tow-truck to pull a wounded Bumblebee back into battle at the end of the first film. She didn't just stand around looking pretty.
*Secondly, she was not some cliched damsel-in-distress. When the Decepticon spy Frenzy attacked her and Sam in the first film, if I remember right she cut him in half with a chainsaw while Sam was the one who panicked. In the second film, she tortured and interrogated the Decepticon spy Wheelie and broke him to the point he became her adoring pseudo-pet. Torturing another being requires a great deal of personal steel, since most people have built-in inhibitions against deliberately causing pain.
*Thirdly, although a female member of my alternate-history forum wrote this off as "being at the mercy" of her father and boyfriend, her refusal to testify against her father when he has committed crimes (based on her comments, I imagine he was running a chop-shop working on stolen cars) and helping him readjust when he gets out of jail rather than following Sam to the East Coast, her staying with Sam no matter how much personal danger it puts her in, and her rescuing him from the LustBot when she has every reason to think Sam is cheating on her with a human girl shows that her character values loyalty.
I've gotten into arguments over this, once with a female member of my writing group (who eventually conceded Mikaela was a "weak character" instead of a trophy) and once with an author at DragonCon after the "what women want in speculative fiction" panel. And since I'm writing all this here, I stand by this position.
If Transformers: Dark of the Moon does well, as it probably will, and Fox gets an attitude adjustment (something that hopefully came with the poor performances of Jennifer's Body and Jonah Hex), maybe they'll bring her character back for a fourth film? That would be very interesting story-wise and could provide a reason for Mikaela's disappearance.
Not to mention geeky guys who identify with Sam would love seeing two pretty girls fighting over him. :)