Michael Chabon won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 2001 for The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay, one of the best novels of all time. Brian K. Vaughan won Eisner Awards for Y: The Last Man, one of the best graphic novels of all time. And starting on Monday, they — along with nine others — will begin to build a cinematic universe combining G.I. Joe, Micronauts, Visionaries, M.A.S.K., and ROM. Or, to repeat that last part in layman’s terms, “a cinematic universe combining GI Joe with other things owned by Hasbro.”
Yes, Hasbro! Coming off the runaway un-success of the toy brand’s calamitous partnership with Universal — which produced 2012’s Battleship and countless jokes about 2012’s Battleship — Hasbro has teamed up with Paramount, the studio that turned Hasbro’s Transformers toys into a kabillion-dollar franchise. In an official press release, the Paramount-Hasbro partnership announced the formation of a writers’ room to plot out an interconnected series of movies which will connect the adventures of the G.I. Joes with beloved space-knight ROM, the underground car task force M.A.S.K., whatever Micronauts are, and whatever Visionaries are.
The writers’ room includes Chabon (whose most recent screen credit is John Carter) and Vaughan (last seen racing away from Under the Dome to continue his brilliant graphic novel series Saga), as well as Marvel Studios favorite Nicole Perlman (Guardians of the Galaxy, the upcoming Captain Marvel) and the Vacation writing team John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein (who also wrote next year’s Spider-Man reboot). The other writers are:
- Lindsey Beer, who worked on Transformers 5 and the long-in-the-works Barbie reboot.
- Cheo Coker, showrunner of Luke Cage and writer of 2009’s Notorious B.I.G. biopic.
- Joe Robert Cole, a writer of Marvel’s upcoming Black Panther and Inhumans, who worked on The People v OJ Simpson.
- Jeff Pinkner, a longtime co-showrunner of Fringe.
- Nicole Riegel, an up-and-coming screenwriter who wrote this year’s The Heyday of Insensitive Bastards.
- Geneva Robertson-Dworet, who was part of Paramount’s Transformers spin-off braintrust and is working on the new Tomb Raider movie.
Pinknerheads will recall that Jeff Pinkner was also a member of the braintrust behind Sony’s quixotic attempt at a Spider-Man Cinematic Universe and the Transformers braintrust, which spent last June coming up with all kinds of exciting new ways for robots to turn into product placement. The Transformers writers’ room was led by Akiva Goldsman, who is also leading the Hasbro writers’ room, a job which presumably involves googling “M.A.S.K. Stands For What” and having to answer difficult questions like “Are Micronauts just Transformers that don’t Transform?”
People desperate for a silver lining will note that this writers’ room includes a wide variety of people who aren’t white dudes, with talented female and African-American screenwriters leading the inevitable charge towards G.I. Joe v ROM: Dawn of M.A.S.K., a movie which may never happen but which will nevertheless consume millions of development dollars over the next year-to-decade.
Disappointingly, the Hasbro Cinematic Universe seems exclusively focused on G.I. Joe and things Paramount hopes you remember from the ’80s, which means we must merely hope for Hungry Hungry Hippos, Jenga, Don’t Wake Daddy, and other fake movies we laughed about half a decade ago when first someone somewhere uttered the phrase “Hasbro Cinematic Universe.” But we can dream, dear reader, we can dream.