In 2015, Hasbro announced its intention to create its own cinematic universe uniting all of its biggest franchises. Heralded by studio Paramount, these franchises would include G.I. Joe, Micronauts, M.A.S.K., Visionaries and ROM. In-depth planning went into this bold concept, which was an obvious attempt to force the disparate franchises into a logical rival to the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Since then, however, not much has been said about the idea. What little news has come out about the various planned films' production has been mostly negative, with release dates changed or cancelled entirely. Now, there is forward momentum with the G.I. Joe Snake Eyes spinoff movie, which certainly puts further spanners into plans. That's not even including the questionable status of the Transformers movie franchise, which would have potentially been part of this universe as well. With all of those factors potentially acting as a road-block, it's time to look back at what Hasbro's plans were, and how they slowly but surely began to fall apart.
The Hasbroverse: Best Laid Plans
Hasbro first laid out its plan for a connected movie universe in late 2015, wanting to expand upon the production deals already agreed to with Paramount. Though the G.I. Joe films were nowhere near as successful as the Transformers series, Hasbro still saw potential in its path forward. The third film in the series, titled G.I. Joe: Ever Vigilant, would also introduce characters to be spun off into the M.A.S.K. series. This came after those involved suggested a G.I. Joe/Transformers crossover.
Production would stall on G.I. Joe, which hadn't seen a movie by then since 2013. In late 2017, however, Hasbro updated its slate of upcoming releases. These included a third G.I. Joe film (mentioned as being a reboot), Micronauts, and Dungeons & Dragons. It's unknown how, if at all, the latter would be related to the rest of the "Hasbroverse," but being announced in the same slate suggests some connection.
Hasbro Movies Are Less Than Meets the Eye
The first chink in this idea's overly ambitious armor came in early 2018, with the announcement that the ROM and M.A.S.K. movies were more than likely off of the table. The lack of any real news concerning these projects, even to the people behind them, showed a lack of confidence on the part of Hasbro and Paramount. By then, DC's mostly less-than-successful attempts to compete with the Marvel formula had come and gone, making even Warner Bros. ambivalent in treading the same path going forward. This may have caused Hasbro to silently back off of the initial plans.
On top of these setbacks, the financially successful but otherwise much maligned Transformers film series had finally begun to wear out its welcome. Last Knight, the fifth entry in the series, was the worst performing both critically and commercially. Hasbro pulled the announced sixth movie, which was meant to release in 2019. In fact, there are now no planned Transformers films scheduled to release from now until 2021.
The spinoff/prequel Bumblebee, initially meant to be one of several spinoffs, also adds to the franchise's current limbo. It received exceedingly positive reviews, especially compared to its predecessors, but its connection to them was also an obvious detriment to its box office. There's also the fact that Bumblebee is retroactively considered a reboot, meaning future installments would scrap the other planned 14 entries and start from scratch.
Future of the Hasbro Cinematic Universe
Much of the failure in creating this potential cinematic universe lies in its very concept. The idea was obviously spawned by the success of the Marvel Cinematic Universe; of course, at the time of Hasbro announcing its own, DC/Warner Bros. was also first trying to mirror the MCU formula. The problem with most modern cinematic universes is that they are supplying for demand that isn't there. Announcing numerous spinoffs before you have a stable franchise is what quickly sunk the Universal Dark Universe movies.
Secondly, Marvel and DC already have templates for their shared universes, so it makes sense. While G.I. Joe and Transformers shared the same continuity in both the original cartoons and comic books, other franchises such as ROM, Visionaries, Micronauts and M.A.S.K. have absolutely no relation to each other. This was simply Hasbro stringing together completely unrelated franchises for the sake of calling it a cinematic universe.
On top of that, Micronauts, Visionaries, ROM, and M.A.S.K. are all essentially dead franchises, having never achieved any mainstream exposure since the 80s. If Hasbro/Paramount couldn't create more universally beloved films for stalwarts like Transformers and G.I. Joe, what made them think that people would pay money to see these has-been concepts?
The best thing to do going forward would be to nail the former two franchises before even thinking about bringing more obscure ones to the big screen. Though the third mainline G.I. Joe film was slated for March 27, 2020, that movie has more than likely been scrapped as well, replaced with a spinoff. As of now, playtime for Hasbro rests on the shoulders of Snake Eyes and Micronauts.