Adi Shankar, the visionary behind the "Bootleg Universe" brand and hit series like Netflix's Castlevania has another wild passionate project in mind: getting that G.I. Joe/Transformers crossover movie up on the screen! Shankar is currently launching his new superhero satire series The Guardians of Justice on Netflix, which has allowed him to truly embrace the nostalgia love of the Bootleg Universe brand in the biggest way yet. However, for an entire generation of 80s/90s kids – and the new generation of 2000s moviegoers – G.I. Joe and Transformers would be the ultimate nostalgia mashup.
When he sat down with our ComicBook Nation podcast, Shankar went in-depth about why – despite his Bootleg Universe tradition of re-imagining popular properties like Marvel's Venom and Punisher, the Power Rangers, or Nintendo's Castlevania games – he isn't looking for the next big IP franchise to jump into. Rather, the filmmaker expressed a need to keep partnering with some of the great creative minds he's collaborated with (Alex Garland, Joseph Kahn, and others) – with one exception: G.I. Joe.
"Okay. Yeah. So literally G.I. Joe is the one. It's the one. G.I. Joe is the one. I'd want to cross it over with Transformers," Shankar said. "But yeah, G.I. Joe is the one. I have a whole kind of concept for it, as well... It's more technicolor, I'll put it that way. It's a more technicolor take on G.I. Joe."
It was arguably Shankar's imagination of "Power/Rangers" as a much more serious and dramatic sci-fi-actioner that led to Saban and Lionsgate's decision to reboot the film franchise in the late 2010s. The word "technicolor" being applied to a G.I. Joe/Transformers crossover film is an interesting concept to imagine – although, the aforementioned 80s/90s generation of fans would probably get behind embracing more of the spirit of the '80s cartoons that helped both G.I. Joe and Transformers explode into multi-media and merchandising mega-franchises in the first place.
G.I. Joe and Transformers crossovers are nothing new – they've been happening since the 1980s when both series were at the height of their respective popularity. That said, the crossovers have been relegated to comic book storylines and toy lines – no major cartoon episode or movie (in either animated or live-action form) has been released.
Right now, there's little doubt that the G.I. Joe franchise would use an "event" to rekindle its box office prospects. After the 2010s G.I. Joe movies failed to do big enough box office numbers, the recent 2020s reboot (Snake Eyes: G.I. Joe Origins) utterly crashed and burned at the post-pandemic box office, earning just $40 million worldwide on a budget estimated to be over $100 million. The franchise is all but dead.
Transformers managed to rekindle its exhausted first film franchise with the 2018 soft-reboot Bumblebee. Now a sequel to that film is set to finally bring the popular Beast Wars series to the live-action Transformers movie universe. There's also a separate Transformers movie reportedly in development, as well as a set of popular new Netflix series.
According to Transformers producer Lorenzo di Bonaventura, the G.I. Joe, and Transformers crossover is only a matter of time:
"You know, the truth of matter is, the studio has always been against that," di Bonaventura told Uproxx. "Every regime that's been at Paramount is against it because it's taking two franchises and making them one, but I think it's inevitable."
Adi Shankar's Guardians of Justice is now streaming on Netflix. Watch the full interview with him above.