Warning: This post contains spoilers for Transformers: Rise of the Beasts.
Three weeks – so recently the creators of Transformers: Rise of the Beasts locked in the surprise ending with the highly anticipated meeting of Hasbro’s biggest toy lines: Transformers and GI Joe. That revelation not only sets the stage for an eighth Transformers movie on the back of Beasts‘s history-making opening weekend, it also teases the beginning of a shared Hasbro Cinematic Universe.
“I wanted a button on the end that said where we were going,” director Steven Caple Jr. tells me. now to Yahoo Entertainment. “We got it at the very last minute… That’s scary now that I think about it!”
Here’s how the reveal goes down. In Rise of the BeastsIn the closing minutes, the film’s human hero, Noah Diaz (played by Anthony Ramos), meets Agent Burke (Michael Kelly), a government agent who wants to thank him for saving the world alongside Optimus Prime’s virtuous Autobots. At the end of their conversation, Burke offers Noah a job and passes a business card with the name of his top secret outfit: G.I. Joe.
Watch our interview with the Transformers: Rise of the Beasts cast and crew on the GI Joe crossover teased at the end of the film
According to Ramos and Caple, they shot two different versions of that scene with two different business cards, just in case Hasbro vetoed the GI Joe reveal. In the alternate shot, the card read “Sector Seven” – a reference to the paramilitary organization that played a role in Michael Bay’s Transformers movies. Rise of the Beasts is set in the 1990s, before the events of those films and before the three standalone films GI Joe features Hasbro previously released: those from 2009 The Rise of Cobrayears 2013 Revenge and that of 2021 Snake eyes.
“Steven and I talked about it before shooting the scene,” Ramos recalled. “He was like, ‘We’re trying to put the worlds together, and there’s a lot of people who have to approve of that.’ That list included Bay, executive producer Steven Spielberg, producer Lorenzo di Bonaventura, and everyone at Hasbro. “It only got the green light three weeks ago,” says Ramos with obvious surprise. “When I turned that card over, I was like, ‘Please, God, let this be true.’ There is so much we can do with these worlds.”
The idea of bringing the Transformers and the Joes together dates back to 2015, when Hasbro and Paramount reportedly made a serious effort to build a Hasbro-based movie universe that would also have connected other toy lines like the Micronauts and ROM. But those plans fell through when di Bonaventura – who had both overseas Transformers And GI Joe movie franchises – tried the yo series with Snake eyes. This time, however, the producer was on board with merging the movie worlds, a replication of a crossover that has already happened in comic books.
“We certainly thought about it for a while,” says di Bonaventura. “It was the obvious thing to do, but we didn’t want to burn through all the mythologies too quickly. We tried to introduce new elements, and in this case we introduced the idea that the Joes can come in. One of the things that making the franchise feel fresh is that we don’t plan [ahead]. We don’t plan ahead because we want to see how the public will feel about things.”
To that end, Di Bonaventura refuses to specify how big G.I. Joe’s role will be in a Rise of the
Beasts follow-up or if that movie will necessarily lead to the continuity established by the previous one yo Pictures. “I think it will tie in with the mythology… There’s plenty out there that we haven’t explored,” he says. “But this was decided at the very last minute because we weren’t sure how everyone would feel about it, including ourselves! But when we saw the movie, we thought, ‘Okay, that really works.'”
It’s no secret that the standalone GI Joe franchise has struggled to match the success of the Transformers movies. The Rise of Cobra And Revenge both fell below $400 million at the global box office as the pandemic hit Snake eyes only managed to earn $40 million around the world. Di Bonaventura thinks that a surplus of characters may have been one element that kept those films from becoming as big as the ones featuring Hasbro’s giant transforming robots.
“We have to be careful about making ensemble films,” says the producer. “Six or seven characters is [about right] – you start to get past that and they have to be small characters because you just don’t have the screen time. We may have made a few mistakes in the past [about that]. Looking ahead, we’re going to try to keep the number of things we’re dealing with from a character point of view to a relative maximum.”
For the record, Caple says he’d love to be the one to finally unite the G.I. Joe team and the Transformers onscreen. “I have a lot of ideas for where we’re going in the future – a lot of new vehicles, new characters, new plots and new dilemmas. The universe has expanded overall and I feel like they can really integrate and add new life to the franchising.”
“I haven’t thought about whether or not the next film should fit the others yo movies,” continues Caple. “I’m always the one saying, ‘Let’s do something new.’ I will say my favourite GI Joe cartoon is GI Joe: Renegades, which is about the outcasts of the Joes. That could be interesting – that way I don’t have to mess anything up in the lore that happened in the other GI Joe movies and doing our own thing. I think we can make something really cool.”
Both Ramos and co-star Dominique Fishback are ready to team up with the Joes as well. “I used to have all the toys, man,” the In the Heights says star. “I had GI Joe toys, I had Transformers toys. I’m just so thrilled and thrilled.”
“I told Steven that since my character is introduced to the fight Rise of the Beasts, she’s going to work out between movies,” Fishback adds with a laugh. “She doesn’t know what life will bring her next! She wants to be prepared, and I think that can help her get through a GI Joe suit and kick some butt.” As the Joes used to say, knowing really is half the battle.
Transformers: Rise of the Beasts currently running in theaters.