SPOILERS AHEAD FOR Transformers: Rise of the Beasts
It’s been five years since the Transformers last graced the silver screen. In that time, the world has waited with bated breath for the return of the fan-favorite blockbuster franchise. But finally, the Transformers have returned and they brought a slew of Easter Eggs and references for every 80’s and 90’s kid!
However, one particular reference towards the end of Transformers: Rise of the Beasts definitely has the potential to completely upend the franchise. This reference not only establishes a universe bigger than fans had previously imagined, but also has the power to make or break the franchise if taken in the wrong direction.
Transformers and the Universe Around It
The history of the Transformers can actually be traced back all the way to the early 60s when the Hassenfeld Brothers released the first action figure, G.I. Joe. Originally developed as a military action toy, it was designed for boys to create action scenes of heroic men who would kick ass. The original action hero, G.I. Joe was influential in the creation of pretty much every action figure since then, with most more often then not basing their articulations on the original 12-inch figure.
However, when the Japanese toy company Takara licensed the figure for their markets, they reworked the figure into what eventually became Mircroman, a 3.75-inch tall action figure complimented by vehicles and weaponry that the figure could interact with. Microman eventually lead to the Microchange and Diaclone toylines, which the Hassenfeld Brothers (then known as Hasbro) to become what we know today as the Transformers.
It’s safe to say that the two franchises have shared quite a lot of similarities and have crossed over on multiple occasions. Now, it seems, Hasbro finally has the intention of doing so in the near future.
Let’s Talk About That Mid-Credits Scene
Towards the end of Transformers: Rise of the Beasts, Noah Diaz (played by Anthony Ramos) is applying for jobs following saving the world. Attempting to apply for a job at a local pizzeria (one that actually links both Noah and Elena (Dominique Fishback)), Noah realizes pretty quickly that Mr. Burke (played by Michael Kelly) isn’t there to get him to sling pizzas.
Revealing he has knowledge of Noah’s exploits with the Autobots and Maximals, Burke also reveals a secret lab in the establishment, offering Noah a chance to use his skills to help the world. Giving him a business card and explaining that Noah’s little brother Chris will receive all the medical help he needs, Burke disappears within the wall, leaving Noah to realize that this isn’t the CIA, this isn’t the FBI, and this certainly isn’t Sector 7. This is G.I. Joe.
Transformers and G.I. Joe and the Future of Cinema
Hasbro hasn’t exactly hidden their intentions of crossing over the franchises. Producer Lorenzo Di Bonaventura has been extremely vocal about the prospect since the release of G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra in 2009. Every time a Transformers or G.I. Joe film has released, the producer has made mention of his intent to cross over the franchises. Now, it seems, we finally have confirmation that plans are in motion.
G.I. Joe and Transformers have shared continuities before, namely in the comics released by Marvel and IDW Comics over the last thirty years. In one comic run, the Joes were responsible for the death of Bumblebee, who after realizing their mistake, rebuilt the Autobot into his second form, Goldbug.
In IDW’s comics continuity, members of the Decepticons even joined the G.I. Joes, with Thundercracker joining the team following leaving the Decepticon cause in All Hail Megatron.
It’s no secret that the two franchises have crossed over, but what does this mean for the future of both the franchises?
Simply put, this decision hangs both franchises on a wire. G.I. Joe has had three live-action films released worldwide. Each film, however, are considered forgettable. Unless Hasbro and Paramount Pictures can find a way to truly bring the G.I. Joes to the big screen, then it may bring the Transformers down with them.
How To Make It Amazing
The question now is how to properly bridge the franchises together in a believable and meaningful way. With Rise of the Beasts raising the stakes to planet-eating proportions, how can Hasbro realistically portray the Joes with enemies the size of Unicron just waiting in the wings?
Well, here’s how I think it could work.
First off, Hasbro already has two human characters who can fit pretty well into the G.I. Joe universe. Those being Jack Burns (John Cena) and Noah Diaz (Anthony Ramos). See, the way I see it, G.I. Joe has the opportunity to evolve from Transformers’ own secret organization Sector 7 (introduced in the 2007 film).
But we can take it even further with the characters. Following his success portraying the America-loving action hero Peacemaker, John Cena would fit perfectly within the character of Duke. See, the name “Duke” is a codename used by Conrad Hauser, the main leader of the G.I. Joes in the shows, comics, games, and the franchise as a whole. Is it so unbelievable for John Cena to change his name in the movies because he wouldn’t be taken seriously with a name like “Conrad”?
As for Noah Diaz, it’s established in Rise of the Beasts that he has experience with technology and electronics, which is a vital asset for a group of soldiers dedicated to protecting the planet from threats on the scale of COBRA.
But then there’s the elephant in the room, with G.I. Joe being a classic action hero franchise. G.I. Joe: Retribution suffered from pulling too much into the cliché action movie aesthetic, especially with Dwayne Johnson headlining the project.
But here lies the issue: G.I. Joe benefits more from campy, out-of-this-world action. They have advanced technology and are fighting against COBRA, a techno-terrorist organization. G.I. Joe is supposed to rely heavily on over-the-top action.
To be honest, G.I. Joe would benefit from not taking itself as seriously. I would also say that Hasbro and Paramount should take a queue from the popular FPS Game Rainbow Six: Siege, which has characters who each have their own unique abilities and skillsets that can make or break a mission in-game. G.I. Joe often has the same unique aspect, with many characters using their own unique abilities. Such as Snake-Eyes who utilizes Stealth, Ripcord is a HALO expert (good for sky-based infiltration), and Scarlett is a the team’s intelligence expert.
The G.I. Joe/Transformers crossover should lean into dumb summer action. I would even propose having Cobra Commander voiced by iconic character actor Mark Hamill. The biggest piece of advice I can give is to not take itself so seriously. Have fun with the film. Let it look like its a bunch of kids playing with their action figures in the playground. Get it away from the serious, military action flicks. If you’re going to protect the entire world, then at least make it fun to watch.
What’s Next For The Transformers Franchise?
With Paramount and Hasbro already confirming that they are working on a follow-up to Rise of the Beasts, and with director Stephen Caple Jr. already in talks to return for the sequel, Transformers is certainly on an incline. But until then, Transformers fans will be eating good when Hasbro and Paramount release Transformers: One next September, with an ensemble cast featuring big names like Chris Hemsworth, Lawrence Fishburne, and Scarlett Johannson.
Until then, fans of both franchises can read the all-new comic series from Image Comics Void Rivals. Crossing over once again, this time with The Walking Dead and Invincible scribe Robert Kirkman penning the story, Void Rivals plans on launching the new line of Transformers and G.I. Joe comics into the future.
Go see Transformers: Rise of the Beasts in theaters now! For more information on the future of the Transformers and G.I. Joe films and comics, stay tuned to The Illuminerdi on Twitter!