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In case you didn't notice, large-scale cinematic universes are the "in" thing in Hollywood. Marvel Studios popularized the franchise model, and now we're getting expanded universes for everything from DC characters to Universal Pictures' lineup of classic monsters. Now yet another fictional world is in the process of being built, as it's been revealed that Paramount and Hasbro will be uniting G.I. Joe with Micronauts, Visionairies: Knights of the Magical Light, M.A.S.K. and Rom: SpaceKnight.
Word about this development comes to us from The Hollywood Reporter, which says that the studio and toy company are in the process of figuring out exactly how it will all work. The cinematic universe is being set up under the brand Allspark Pictures (Hasbro's film label), and there is a plan to bring together a writers room that will work together to create different projects. If this sounds familiar, it's because Paramount and Hasbro pulled a very similar move earlier this year when they were trying to figure out exactly what should happen with the future of Transformers movies. Ultimately their decision was just to press forward with Transformers 5 - potentially once again directed by Michael Bay - so we probably shouldn't necessarily expect any major moves to occur.
So what are all these toy brands that will be coming together for this new mega-franchise? Let's break them down!
Between the toys, the massively popular animated series, or the two movies that have already been made, an introduction to G.I. Joe probably isn't necessary. Essentially it's the story of an elite task force with ranks filled with code-named heroes who regularly go toe-to-toe with the villains from Cobra Command. There's no mention of whether or not the continuity from the existing films will continue, but it's hard to imagine that they will pass on the opportunity to have Dwayne Johnson as the big star at the front of the franchise.
Micronauts, which began as a toy line in 1976 and became a comic series in 1979, is set in the microverse and follows a team's battle against a tyranical dictator named Baron Karza. Together, Commander Arcturus Rann, his robot co-pilot Biotron, Princess Mari, Prince Argon, the warriors Acroyear and Bug, and Mari's robot tutor Microtron. It's pretty basic stuff, but it will be interesting to see how crossovers can occur between the normal world and the microverse.
Though not quite as well known as G.I. Joe or the Micronauts, Visionaries: Knights of the Magical Light covered everything from action figures to comics to an animated series. The story is set on an electronics-less world called Prysmos, where magic provides power. A wizard named Merklynn invites anyone interested in learning the ways of magic to go through a series of trials, and if they succeed, they wind up receiving armor featuring an animal to which they are then able to transform into. Some of the characters have powerful staffs, while others are able to enchant vehicles. And at the end of it all, it boils down to two groups facing off: the Spectral Knights and the Darkling Lords.
Just like many of the other titles you'll find here, M.A.S.K. is yet another series that basically centers around a group of heroes working in an organization to trial and foil the plans of a group of villains in a rival organization. In this case, it's the Mobile Armored Strike Kommand (M.A.S.K.) versus the Vicious Evil Network of Mayhem (V.E.N.O.M.). It's worth noting that toys released later in the series focused more on racing/vehicles instead of stopping terrorism, so perhaps that could be the way that this one differentiates itself.
Last but certainly not least is Rom: SpaceKnight, who is simple in this group in that Rom is a single character instead of an organization. The character is a cyborg from a planet called Galador, who manages to fight off an alien race called the Dire Wraiths and follows them to Earth and other planets to continue the battle. Rom's story begins with him being a volunteer for a special Spaceknights program that would help him fight the Dire Wraiths, and that's how he winds up having his body parts replace with bionic armor.
Unlike Marvel Comics, there isn't exactly a ton of crossover history between these brands that can be endlessly mined for new stories and arcs, but hopefully Hasbro and Paramount will assemble a talented group to figure it all out. I personally can't figure out why they wouldn't want Transformers to be part of this universe as well, but surely there must be some reason.
Stay tuned for more updates on this front, and hit the comments below with your thoughts on this development!