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Age of Cinematic Universes: the Hasbro Universe

I want you to imagine a horse race with each racer representing a film studio and their respective cinematic universes. Marvel is out the gate straight away and takes the far lead. The DCEU horse is in second, stumbling to catch up to Marvel. The Star Wars horse is close behind, despite plenty of heckling from the audience. The MonsterVerse is trotting along at its own pace, while the Dark Universe horse has collapsed before even taking its first step. And everyone is asking why the Alien/Prometheus horse is even there. But, there is one other horse who has yet to go out the gate. This is the Hasbro horse. News reports says it was raring to go, but to date has made no such move.

Okay, this is a weird analogy, but I wanted to use it. Solving the cinematic universe formula is a complex task. One needs a group of likeminded, creative artists and the right amount of support and money. Marvel Studios developed all this from the start and has really been the only one to have gotten it just right. They did pioneer the modern formula, after all. Now everyone and their dogs are trying to copy, but doing it the wrong way round, like trying to build up a wall, if you will, but without putting in any cement to keep it together. This is why Sony failed with The Amazing Spider-Man, why Universal Studios failed to revive their iconic monster line-up (which technically invented the shared universe back in the 1940s), and why the DCEU is struggling to keep their own franchise afloat even after a hit like Wonder Woman.

This all brings us to Hasbro, owner of Transformers, My Little Pony and Monopoly. With the financial success of five Transformers films, Hasbro decided to jump into the ring, with not one, but two planned cinematic universes. The first would transform (sorry) the Transformers films into a larger film series. The second would reignite a few of their older, forgotten toy lines. Hasbro announced they would make interconnected films based on G.I. Joe (which already has two films, who knows how or if they will connect them), Micronauts, Visionaries, M.A.S.K., and Rom the Spaceknight.

So far, nothing substantive has come of either. Plans for a formal Transformers filmverse have been pushed aside with Hasbro instead announcing a reboot after their Bumblebee movie comes out in December 2018. Last month, they announced their new film line-up, starting in 2020, with a reboot of G.I. Joe., followed by a Micronauts film, a long-awaited Dungeons & Dragons reboot, and an unnamed film based on another project. I am betting that this is the planned Transformers reboot, which will fit into the new cinematic universe. Perhaps Hasbro is being deliberately patient and careful with their plans, seeing what has happened in the past two years.

So, what are the plans for this presumed cinematic universe? My guess is that at least G.I. Joe, Transformers, and Micronauts will be incorporated into this plan. All of them have appeared in comics and cartoons together, so there is some history to build from. Another factor is that these three franchises, along with Rom the Spaceknight, have all previously appeared in Marvel Comics. Heck, the Microverse, the setting of Micronauts, is that weird dimension Ant-Man fell into in his debut movie.

Screenwriters John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein, who had been involved in the Hasbro film project, said in a Cinema Blend interview, that Rom and M.A.S.K. would not be included in the new film franchise. I am not sure why Rom would be booted out, but M.A.S.K. is basically the gimmicks of G.I. Joe and Transformers fused together, so its exclusion makes sense. Why sustain two similar series when you could simply do a crossover? And yet, it may be possible that the original line-up is still in play, with Transformers and D&D still involved. Like Hanna-Barbera, Hasbro may have some source material already in mind: The Hasbro Universe comic books.

Also known as the “Revolution Universe”, the Hasbro IDW Comics started in 2016. It currently incorporates all of the aforementioned franchises save Dungeons & Dragons, plus Action Man (greatest hero of them all!) and Jem and the Holograms (the less said about that godawful Jem movie, the better…) All of the aforementioned properties have serialised comics of their own and have had numerous crossovers since they debuted. In fact, the first crossover had the Transformers, G.I. Joe, the Micronauts, Action Man, Rom, and M.A.S.K. all duking it out and then taking on their enemies. Seems like a good idea for an Avengers-sized milestone.

Most people know who the Transformers are, and maybe G.I. Joe, but what about the others? In short, Action Man is basically the British equivalent of the all-American G.I. Joe. The Micronauts are a tiny civilization armed with the Pym tech. Rom is a cybernetic space cop who comes to Earth to exterminate shapeshifting aliens. Visionaries is about an alien race who must rely on ancient magic to survive after their technology fails. And M.A.S.K. is about an underground taskforce that uses transforming vehicles to fight their enemies. These lot could all piece together quite well (and if you really want to dig deep, you could add in the Inhumanoids!) As for the planned Transformers reboot, I sincerely hope it will treat its source material with more dignity. And keep Michael Bay away from them now and forever! Transformers would definitely be a reliable brand considering the cash it has raked in.

What are your thoughts or ideas on a Hasbro shared universe? Should we get any more Transformers films? Or should they just pack it in and let Marvel have the sole cinematic universe that has worked? Leave us a comment below or on our Facebook or Twitter feeds.

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Mark Russell

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