Share and Follow
The two lines ruled toy aisles of the 1980s thanks in large part to their syndicated animated series: G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero, which ran from 1983 to 1986 while The Transformers ran from 1984 to 1987. But despite their shared parent company, the two franchises only made winks to one another, with elderly versions of Joes like Snake Eyes and Flint showing up in the 2006 setting of The Transformers.
However, comic books made the connections far more explicit. Marvel obtained the comic rights to both franchises in the 1980s, and first brought them together in 1986 for G.I. Joe and Transformers, a four-part miniseries that began with the Joes murdering Bumblebee and later teaming with the Autobots to keep an atomic base out of the hands of Cobra and the Decepticons. Seven years later, Marvel introduced the Generation 2 Transformers into continuity through a story arc in the G.I. Joe ongoing, which spun off into a Transformers series.
Eventually, the licenses went on to other comic book companies, including Devil’s Due and IDW. Knowing the value of the properties, these publishers regularly brought the two toy lines together. But as much as the settings and tones changed, the basic premise remained the same: The Joes used Autobots as weapons to defend Earth/America/oil Interests, and Cobra used Decepticons as vehicles for terrorism/destruction of the Earth.
Even a 2004 miniseries from Dreamwave Publishing—featuring a script by John Ney Rieber and moody visuals from penciler Jae Lee, inker Rob Armstrong, and colorist June Chung—followed the basic plot beats, despite taking place in the 1930s with the Joes as the Allies and Cobra as the Axis. Comic runs from current rights-holder IDW Publishing have been more playful in their approach, including the 13-issue Transformers vs. G.I. Joe series by John Barber and Tom Scioli, which takes the form of an early Silver Age comic.
Despite the ubiquity of G.I. Joe and Transformers crossover comics, it’s surprising that the two properties haven’t yet properly crossed over in movies, especially given Hasbro’s many attempts at breaking into Hollywood. In addition to the Michael Bay-produced Transformers movies and the (underrated!) G.I. Joe movies, Hasbro has made films out of board games Clue, Battleship, and the Ouija board. They’ve also brought toy lines Jem and the Holograms and My Little Pony, as well as licensed properties Power Rangers and Dungeons & Dragons.
But the attempts to make a shared universe have largely faltered, including a never-produced toy-centric franchise that brought G.I. Joe together with M.A.S.K., Visionaries, ROM, and the Micronauts. More recently, Hasbro’s movie studio (which has gone by Hasbro Studios, Allspark, and now Entertainment One) has fallen on hard times, and has been restructuring its properties internally since the end of last year.