Mainstream pop culture-oriented content is going through an age of expansion, i.e., more importance is given to interconnected storytelling, world-building, crossovers, and meta-narratives. Studios executives are pushing the creators to come up with more ways to keep audiences hooked, not just with a singular entry but with the entire content library a certain intellectual property has to offer. Therefore, it is understandable that Paramount Studios wanted to introduce their version of a crossover with the beginning of the prequel Transformers live-action movie series as well.
In the recently released Transformers: Rise of the Beasts, after saving the world with his new Transformers friends in a globetrotting adventure, human protagonist Noah Diaz attends a job interview. To his surprise, the interviewer seems to know everything about his past and also about his recent deeds, and their conversation concludes with Noah being offered a job at the covert government branch known as the G.I. Joe initiative. While this reveal might have caught viewers off-guard, a crossover between the Transformers and G.I. Joe franchises is nothing unheard of, as Hasbro Toys is the parent companyof both. To assess how this crossover can shape up in live-action, we would like to briefly discuss G.I. Joe, the past instances of the franchise sharing space with Transformers, and how Rise of the Beasts paved the way for a live-action adaptation of that.
A Brief Overview Of G.I. Joe
Despite existing since almost the same time period when Spider-Man made his first appearance in Marvel comics, the first major live-action feature adaptation of G.I. Joe was made recently in 2009. The military-themed sci-fi-oriented franchise, which started its journey as ‘boy toys’, has expanded into multiple board and video games, animated media, and comics and is second only to Transformers in terms of sales and popularity. The presence of G.I. Joe through the 80s and 90s was so influential that Hasbro started branding the toy line as ‘action figures’ instead of toys or dolls (nothing beats making consumers feel exclusive), and that’s how the term originated.
The Global Integrated Joint Operating Entity, acronym “G.I. Joe,” is an advanced covert military peacekeeping force with elite soldiers joining their ranks across the globe. The faction primarily seeks to stop the advances of the vicious terrorist organization known as Cobra, an acronym for Conversion by Blackmail, Revolution, and Anarchy. Cobra, whose snake-themed motif is closely associated with their comics origin, seeks to eradicate humanity and plots world dominance. Some of the key allies and members of the nefarious organization are Storm Shadow, Cobra Commander, Baroness, Zartan, and Destro, while some of the known faces among the Joes are Snake Eyes, General Hawk, Scarlett, and Duke.
Transformers And Joe Crossover In Other Media
In some interpretations, the origin of Cobra is closely linked with the Transformers and, as a result, adds a more supernatural flair to the otherwise grounded Joe lore. According to the lore, a pre-historic Earth was inhabited by a serpentine-humanoid species known as Cobra-La, who were technologically advanced and despised the early homo sapiens. During the same time period, the evil incarnate dark god of the Cybertronians, Unicron, reached Earth to consume the planet and faced a challenge when Cobra-La opposed his advancements by threatening him with a corrosive spore at their disposal. Both parties agreed to a deal to let the homo sapiens population and technology grow to a substantial size, which Cobra-La would supply to Unicron in proper time, and in return, they would have the planet all to themselves. However, during the ice age, Cobra-La had to move to seclusion under the Himalayas, and by the modern period, their number had dwindled to a mere handful, with the last serpent king, Golobulus, acting as the leader of the community. With the help of a ruthless scientist who would be later known as Cobra Commander, Golobulus founded the terrorist organization Cobra and came into conflict with the Joes. By this time, Joe had made contact with Transformers as well, and Autobots became an ally to the human cause, leading to Cobra siding with Decepticons and terrorizing the globe and beyond. This interpretation is most likely to be adapted in a future Transformers/G.I. Joe live-action crossover, as Unicron has already made his appearance in “Rise of the Beasts.”
How Does ‘Rise Of The Beasts’ Make Way For The Crossover?
In Rise of the Beasts, the possibilities of elite combat groups of Cybertron and humans sharing space are explored through the human protagonist Noah Diaz and his relationship with the Autobot members involved in the narrative. Even in the Bayverse movies, the human-Transformers relationship was majorly highlighted through the involvement of the army, perhaps as a subtle attempt to include the Joes. But the major difference in this entry as compared to Bayverse ones is that the human protagonist, Noah, himself is a former military operative. To add to his later Joe cred, his nickname ‘Sonic,’ given by his brother, Kris, is catchy as far as the Joe codenames go.
During the events of the movie, the Autobots seek Noah and Elena’s help to stop Unicron’s underlings, Scourge and Terrorcons, from gaining access to the Transwarp key, which, if not prevented, could doom the Earth by bringing the cosmic tyrant. Autobot leader Optimus Prime wants to utilize the key to get his comrades and himself back to their home planet, Cybertron, but both he and Noah remain skeptical of each other’s motivation and allegiance for quite a while, to the point that Noah considers destroying the key and putting an end to the entire fiasco. Through a chain of events, the duo realizes their mistake of acting sporadically and agrees to join hands to tackle the threat together. During the climactic battle, the Autobot scout, Mirage, almost sacrifices his life to save Noah and later fuses himself with Noah’s body to create an exo-armor, which someone with a military background like Noah puts to good use in battling the Scourge. This battle armor will remind longtime fans of the animated series Transformers: Energon, where protagonist Kicker Jones received a similar exo-suit from Optimus Prime, designed by his father, Brian Jones. If the Joe allegiance seeks to go into direct combat with the nefarious factions of Cybertronians, they will need similar tech to guard their ranks.
Lastly, the attempt to create a cohesive live-action G.I. Joe franchise has time and again resulted in failure, perhaps due to it being outdated in some sense or not dealing with the grounded espionage-based narratives the franchise actually capitalized on. Although it remains to be seen whether the Transformers franchise will actually benefit from suddenly taking an abrupt halt from exploring its lore in favor of a crossover, the Joe franchise might make a comeback using the more over-the-top flair expected from this crossover.