Sep 28, 2023
Transformers, G.I. Joe crossover movie secret plans revealed
Warning: This article contains spoilers for Transformers: Rise of the Beasts. Moviegoers who caught Transformers: Rise of the Beasts in theaters this weekend were treated to an extra surprise: a scene
Warning: This article contains spoilers for Transformers: Rise of the Beasts.
Moviegoers who caught Transformers: Rise of the Beasts in theaters this weekend were treated to an extra surprise: a scene at the end of the film signaled the franchise will be crossing over with G.I. Joe. Actor Michael Kelly (House of Cards, Tom Clancy's Jack Ryan) popped up as Agent Burke to recruit Anthony Ramos' Noah Diaz and "the big guys" (i.e. Autobots) to join the Joes' cause.
It's a scene director Steven Caple Jr. pitched the gatekeepers of both IPs when he was developing the story for Rise of the Beasts, and it has clear implications for what's to come. "We're introducing Joe characters into the world that we're dealing with, on whatever our characters are gonna go do," franchise producer Lorenzo di Bonaventura tells EW of the next planned film. "We're also not through with the Maximals, so I imagine in the next movie we'll have Maximals, Autobots, and Joes."
Caple, speaking with EW separately, confirms he's deep into developing the Rise of the Beasts sequel. "It is definitely gonna incorporate some Joes characters, but it won't go into, maybe, the true origins of the Joes."
"The idea of trying to do the whole Joe world at the same time is a little daunting," Di Bonaventure confirms. "This is a way to bring them into our world, remind people of who they are, and they'll have a role in the plot."
In the ending of Transformers: Rise of the Beasts, Ramos' Noah has a lead on a security gig. Before the dealings with the Autobots and Maximals, the ex-military tech expert was hunting for jobs to support his family, specifically his ailing brother. Noah heads to a warehouse where he meets Agent Burke. It soon becomes clear the job interview is a front for something much bigger.
Burke has heard all about Noah's world-saving antics with the Autobots, Maximals, and Dominique Fishback's Elena. "We're in the middle of an on-going war," Burke says, adding, "We'd love to have the big guys join the fight." After revealing a secret bunker in which a group of people are working on some kind of alien craft, Burke hands Noah a business card with the G.I. Joe insignia.
Caple didn't want this to be just a post-credits scene, which Rise of the Beasts does have. "It was really about trying to get Noah fulfilling his arc, this guy who was looked down upon by society," he explains. "At the end of the film, the military, out of all places, given the history that he had with it, was the one to take care of his brother and his situation."
As Caple completed his pass on the script, none of the fictional organizations from the canon felt right, even Sector 7, the covert division that had a presence in 2007's Transformers. "They seemed to kind of always basically lose," Caple says, laughing. "I don't know if this is really the hero organization I would want Noah to be in."
Then he remembered the comics. The Transformers and G.I. Joes already crossed over in a limited comic book series published by Marvel in 1987. So Caple pitched Di Bonaventura on the idea. The producer says they had been trying to merge these two sets of characters together for some time. They were just looking for the right moment.
"Frankly, since the first [Transformers] movie the fans have been saying, 'Please put in G.I. Joes,' " he recalls. "We were like, 'That's a great idea for the future. In two or three movies, we should do that.' Then it sort of got lost along the way a bit." The producers were hearing the fan love for Dinobots, so the concept of 2014's Transformers: Age of Extinction took precedent. "We kept trying to find a way to do it organically," Di Bonaventura adds of the Joes.
It took Caple and the team about two years to run the idea up the flagpole. First they pitched it to Paramount, then to Hasbro, then came production companies eOne and Skydance, and producer Michael Bay's camp. (Bay produces the current run of Transformers movies after directing the first five.) "They have to ask questions like: Is there ever gonna be a G.I. Joe movie again? Is it always gonna be underneath Transformers?" Caple points out.
2021's Snake Eyes, starring Henry Golding in an origin story for the titular masked samurai, was the last entry in the G.I. Joe movie franchise, and it didn't do so hot in ticket sales. Regarding whether Paramount and Hasbro would ever continue the story that began in that movie, Di Bonaventura says, "We really haven't had that much in-depth conversation, but I will say this: The first step we'll do is pick the G.I. Joe characters that we're most excited about, and then we'll figure out the journey."
Michael Kelly wasn't even cast in the role of Agent Burke until after principal photography wrapped on Rise of the Beasts. The crew were in post-production and preparing to return to shoot pick-ups they weren't able to get while filming in Peru. Everything had to be top secret. According to Caple, Kelly didn't even know the full extent of his role. The actor had signed on to the project purely from his excitement over Transformers.
There was one version of the script that mentioned the G.I. Joe reveal. All other copies, including the one in the studio's possession, described the military organization as Sector 7. "That way no one could leak the script," Caple notes. The filmmaker didn't give Kelly the final script until he was on set. "He just freaked out," the director recalls. "He was pacing in his trailer going back and forth. Then he called his agent and he was like, 'Dude, this is G.I. Joe!' Then they're calling the studio, like, 'Is this real? Is the director playing a prank on my client?' "
Caple says they shot two versions of Kelly's scene, one where Burke's business card reads Sector 7 and one where the card reads G.I. Joe, so audiences in test screenings wouldn't know the true reveal. There was only one copy of the G.I. Joe business card, and Caple took that himself from set for safe keeping. "I was like, 'I'm taking this. I don't want this to be found on the floor,'" he says. "I actually didn't have them printed out until that day [on set]. We were very cautious of it, man. We were really trying to be as secretive as possible."
Now that the cat's out of the bag, Caple says the next movie is meant to "expand the entire universe."
"There's a big mission at hand," he says of the story he's developing now for the sequel, heavily hinting that the Transformers-G.I. Joe crossover will take audiences beyond Earth. "I think it's really cool that there are other planets out there with Transformers. It's one of the reasons why I introduced the Maximals that way in the beginning of our film," Caple continues. "I was pulling from these Japanese cartoons where there's Transformers on every other planet. I just feel like we've been on Earth for a very long time. So there might be something interesting to explore there, maybe taking this war and battle somewhere else."
It would certainly explain the alien spaceship in Burke's bunker. Speaking of, Burke might not even be the real name of Kelly's character.
"That's what we're gonna be playing with in the future," the filmmaker says. "But as of right now, it's Agent Burke. It's a little generic, and it's done on purpose a bit. It's all part of the facade. He might grow into someone else. I'm still trying to figure out what to do exactly with that character. I have some ideas, but the way I collaborate would be me doing research, me talking to Hasbro, and talking to Michael Kelly and seeing where we could take him."
Here's hoping it doesn't take another two years of running concepts up the flagpole.
Transformers: Rise of the Beasts is now playing in theaters.
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Set in 1994, the seventh installment in the live-action movie series follows the Maximals, Predacons, and Terrorcons as they join the existing battle on Earth between Autobots and Decepticons.Warning: This article contains spoilers for Transformers: Rise of the Beasts.Want more movie news? Sign up for Entertainment Weekly's free newsletter to get the latest trailers, celebrity interviews, film reviews, and more.Related content: