When Marvel Comics surprised everyone with their runaway hit idea of a cinematic universe, it was only a matter of time before others turned the idea into a dollar-printing machine. Now, over the past year, we’ve heard that Universal Monsters, Transformers, and Star Wars will all be joining Marvel and DC Comics in the shared universe battlefield. And who is the newest addition to make this vow? Good old Hasbro – who are doubling their plans already by now, not only making their Transformers films a separate series, but adapting several of their other brands into a shared universe.
For better or for worse, this will allow Hasbro to make a lot of money, allow older audiences to relive their childhoods, let younger ones to enjoy the products, and introduce secondary franchises to the modern world. I mean, look how well Guardians of the Galaxy was embraced. Maybe Hasbro’s forgotten toylines will get a chance to bloom in the same capacity. As bad as the films were, Transformers was revived as a popular franchise thanks to the movies, and look at the success of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. Once a bland show aimed at little girls, MLP has evolved into a franchise now watched and beloved by tons of people. But since the Transformers are doing their own thing, and magic pastel ponies might be out-of-place in a live action setting, Hasbro has turned to their second-tier toylines to turn into movies.
Appropriately, most of the franchises chosen for this shared universe gained cult followings through comic books produced by Marvel. However, to that end, a lot of their world building was created by Marvel, so it is hard to say what will and won’t be adapted to the big screen. Without further ado, let’s see who the chosen franchises are for this shared cinematic universe.
The positive of using G.I. Joe as the first choices is that it already has two films: the fun G.I. Joe: Rise of Cobra and the darker G.I. Joe: Retaliation. This universe has established characters and a relatively cool world of ninjas, wacky terrorist organizations, and Christopher Eccleston as a metal-faced James Bond-esque villain. G.I. Joe has the distinct honour of being the first action figure series, beginning with just one titular character, before being redesigned in the 1980s as the more iconic all-American military team that fights against the evil COBRA. The toys had a large variety of characters both good and evil, and the two established films have offered a lot of fun gadgets, weaponry, and memorable characters, even if several key plot elements have been retconned between movies.
The Micronauts franchise began as a Japanese toyline by Takara in a similar light to Transformers, then got fleshed out thanks to Marvel through a successful comic book. A relatively basic story of a heroic resistance and an evil empire, what made Micronauts stand out was its setting of being based in a subatomic universe, though they also spent some time on Earth – which I’m guessing is where the film will be mostly set to tie it in with the rest of the other movies. Interestingly, the biggest contribution Micronauts made to the Marvel universe was the Microverse – that weird dimension Ant-Man ends up in when he goes subatomic in his own movie. So while Marvel may not own the license to Micronauts, they have already made an impact on the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Perhaps hero Arcturus Rann will show up at some point in a future Ant-Man movie.
The most vague of the Hasbro lines, Visionaries: Knights of the Magical Light had a short successful run in 1987 as a toyline, cartoon, and comic book all released in unison. A fantasy/sci-fi adventure, Visionaries is set on the planet Prysmos where the convergence of the three suns causes all technology to shut down and long lost magical energies to return. A great but immoral wizard named Merklynn informs the people that those who reach his temple shall be bestowed with powerful magic, and the story unfolds telling the battle of the good Spectral Knights and the evil Darkling Lords. Each character had an animal totem that gave them their powers, and the series came with a large heap of aesops. The concept is unique and would likely end up being the Thor of this shared universe.
Essentially a combination of G.I. Joe and Transformers, M.A.S.K. (short for Mobile Armoured Strike Kommand) combined the heroic taskforce with the transforming vehicles, minus the robot forms. M.A.S.K., led by billionaire philanthropist Matt Trakker, battles against the evil V.E.N.O.M. organization, which is more concerned with criminal activities than world domination. The other gimmick of the franchise was that the characters wore superpowered helmets called Masks. The series has quite the large cast like G.I. Joe, though with a more international mixture than just Americans. The series has undergone some changes or reboots to keep it fresh, once being incorporated into the G.I. Joe universe with both factions being subgroups of G.I. Joe and COBRA. This plot change could allow M.A.S.K. to be incorporated easily into a G.I. Joe sequel before expanding into its own film series.
Rom began life as a toy released by the Parker Brothers company and inspired the more renowned Marvel comic, which fleshed out the character’s entire universe. In the comics, Rom is a cyborg who took on his mechanical appearance to lead an epic galactic battle against the evil Dire Wraiths, and many people of his species became Spaceknights like Rom. Rom defeats the aliens and chases them to their planet, but they abandon it and scatter across the universe. Vowing to cleanse space of their evil, he eventually lands on Earth and exterminates disguised Wraiths in a small American town. Because Marvel created Rom’s universe, it is unknown if anything could be incorporated into the film version, but you never know.
So, it might be a little while before we see any signs of this Hasbro shared film universe since the unnamed third G.I. Joe movie doesn’t even have a release date yet. Whether or not Transformers or that awful Jem and the Holograms movie will be incorporated into the canon is unknown either. Still, out of the growing number of “cinematic universes” announced during 2015, I think one from Hasbro would be an interesting and fun one.
What are your thoughts on Hasbro launching their own filmverse? Are their franchises too obscure to reach the public eye? Sound off down below or on our Twitter feed.