John Cena Transformers Bumblebee
John Cena with Bumblebee as seen in Michael Bay's Transformers movies. Getty Images / Paramount Pictures

WWE wrestler John Cena has been cast in the first spin-off from Michael Bay's big screen Transformers franchise. Focused on fan-favourite Transformer Bumblebee, the film will also star Oscar-nominated actress Hailee Steinfeld.

News of the 16-time WWE Champion's casting comes alongside a full cast list, synopsis and release date for the anticipated film studio Paramount Pictures hopes will build a Transformers cinematic universe.

The film will be directed by Travis Knight, who directed last year's critically-acclaimed stop-motion animation Kubo and the Two Strings. Bumblebee will mark his live action debut.

"On the run in the year 1987, Bumblebee finds refuge in a junkyard in a small Californian beach town," reads the synopsis.

"Charlie (Steinfeld), on the cusp of turning 18 and trying to find her place in the world, discovers Bumblebee, battle-scarred and broken. When Charlie revives him, she quickly learns this is no ordinary, yellow VW bug."

The film also stars Pamela Aldon, Stephen Schneider, Jorge Lendeborg Jr., Jason Drucker, Kenneth Choi, Ricardo Hoyos, Abby Quinn, Rachel Crow, and Grace Dzienny.

It's not known what Cena's role will be. Given his age and status as the film's apparent leading man, he could potentially be playing the father of Steinfeld's character.

Cena joined WWE's main roster in 2002, quickly becoming one of the most popular and then divisive figures in the industry as he became the face of Vince McMahon's company. Whether fans loved or hated him, they were invested in his matches, and so he's remained a main event player ever since.

He returned to the ring in July ahead of a potential WWE Championship match at Summerslam later this month. With filming of Bumblebee starting yesterday (31 July) however, he may not be around for long.

Cena, 40, has been built reasonable little acting career over the past couple of years, with roles in comedies Daddy's Home and Trainwreck as well as Doug Liman's war drama The Wall opposite Aaron Taylor-Johnson.

Bumblebee has played a big part in all five of Michael Bay's Transformers movies to date, the first of which was released ten years ago in 2007. The latest, released last month, is one of the better outings for the series, but still absolutely dreadful.

Bumblebee is set for release on 21 December, 2018, which puts it head-to-head with Warner Bros DC Comics adaptation Aquaman, starring Jason Momoa. Also set for release that month are Sony's animated Spider-Man movie and the Peter Jackson-produced adaptation Mortal Engines.