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12 heroic comics and television influences we'd love to see in the new G.I. Joe relaunch

By Adam Pockross
Dwayne Johnson and Ray Park in G.I. Joe: Retaliation

For longtime G.I. Joe fans like myself, the recent news that Hasbro and Paramount have already started work on a follow-up to the previously announced Snake Eyes origin movie was met with equal parts “Yo Joe!” and “Please don’t mess this up!”

Personally speaking, that’s because the previous two films in the franchise — 2009’s G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra and 2013’s G.I. Joe: Retaliation — didn’t come close to living up to the nostalgic fun I was hoping to find. Sure, a lot of that is my fault and the implied fallacy of expectation. But in a major way, isn’t that the biggest challenge that the filmmakers are up against: How does nostalgia for bygone childhood fun translate to film?

Both previous efforts found a decent global audience. And while I wouldn’t be so presumptuous as to step on the filmmakers’ steel-pointed toes, if they’re looking for some perspective this time around, from someone who truly loves the roots of this franchise and would love nothing more than to see it return to all its heroic, pre-live-action glory, then perhaps I can be of some service to this great and noble reboot cause.

In that spirit (shout out to Spirit and his pet eagle, Freedom!), here’s some fan-friendly ideas that might be helpful if Paramount and Hasbro are going to successfully relaunch this most cherished of franchises.

Keep it goofy

G.I. Joe is at its best when fighting Cobra, preferably while they’re all following one of Cobra Commander’s cockamamie schemes. The mustache-twirling melodramatist was straight-up bonkers in the cartoons and comics, as were all his outlandish enablers — from steel-faced Destro to many-faced Zartan.

Let’s steer away from real-world terrorism and violence (heck, let everyone parachute to safety!) and keep that goofy, fun, sci-fi-leaning slant that made G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero so much darn fun in the first place. There’s a campy, self-aware tone to the ‘80s cartoon that the original movies struggled to convey, for the most part, as they seemed to be more focused on the action and less so on the goofy adventures.

Let’s get a healthy mix of both, please.

But also cool

That said, it doesn’t need to be so goofy that we don’t care about the characters, or that there isn’t an element of cool science to the sci-fi. Let’s see some more super weapons designed by Destro, which could, theoretically, potentially work — with some mad science geniusly applied, of course.

All three of the initial 5-part arcs that launched the ‘toon would be ripe for adaptation, and each included a weapon of such massive destruction it could give the Death Star a power run. There’s no reason the ideas in the new movie can’t be huge and thought-provoking, while also being insanely fun. I mean, the Joes have a guy dressed in a neon-green space suit named Sci-Fi on the team… use him for Saturn’s sake!

Blowtorch GI Joe

Bring out the gems

Of course, Sci-Fi isn’t the only semi-obscure, mostly-ignored-on-the-big-screen character the new movie can give beautiful life to. Honestly, he’s not even the most brightly colored… that honor would likely go to Blowtorch, whose outfit looks like it was made to match the surface of the sun. I don’t even care if the dude gets a line, just give him a costume and let him torch some stuff.

And the same can be said of any number of secondary characters who never earned their big-screen moments... give us Dusty! Give us Gung Ho! Give us Stalker! Give us Shipwreck and his pet parrot, Polly!

Snow Job G.I. Joe

Can a fella get a Snow Job?

Honestly though, if we’re gonna get personal here, the filmmakers really only have to do one thing to make this thing a success: Give me Snow Job! I grew up on the slopes in Colorado, and like every mountain boy growing up in the ‘80s, Snow Job was my guy.

I could spend hours setting up huge hits around my bedroom for him to ski off, before swooping down and kicking crazy Cobra butt. So why not lean into this built-in fan base and give us the best genre skiing sequence since Roger Moore shredded that bobsled course in For Your Eyes Only?

More like this incredible sequence, please:

Speaking of mountain sequences, G.I. Joe may have already peaked as far as mountain peak scenes go, with this (above) electric cliffside sequence in Retaliation.

Ninja-on-ninja action is always appreciated, but when it includes death-defying rope-swinging and weaponized avalanches, that’s when it hits the upper echelon of celluloid heroics. 

Snake Eyes GI Joe Rise of Cobra

Ninjas! Ninjas! Ninjas!

As demonstrated above, the best parts of the G.I. Joe movies involved ninjas, be it Snake Eyes, Storm Shadow, or Jinx. Which isn’t really surprising, considering it was always that way in the cartoons and comics too.

Surely a lot of that territory will be covered in the Snake Eyes origin pic... but can you ever really have enough ninjas? No, no you cannot.

Snake Eyes G.I. Joe Retaliation


I don’t need everyone to carry an Uzi, and sure, Snake Eyes would have likely upgraded by now, but there’s no doubt the Uzi was the gun of the ‘80s, and retro is always in. On second thought... would it be so wrong if everyone just carried an Uzi to go along with their primary weapon?

Why not just set it in the '80s?

Okay, I’m reading back on this list and feeling like perhaps I haven’t grown up one bit in the last 35 years. But I’m also wondering if maybe there’s something about the '80s that just works with G.I. Joe.

I mean, the whole decade was just as nuts as Cobra Commander. And perhaps I was just too young to see the shades of gray back then, but the '80s also presented a far more binary world, where bad guys were bad, and good guys were Americans, particularly those employed by its daring, highly-trained special mission force.

Lean into strong female characters

There may have been some questionable pre-PC banter involved in the Real American Hero heyday, and perhaps some necklines were drawn more for the male gaze than for battlefield preparedness, but with Scarlett, Lady Jaye, Jinx, and Cover Girl leading the way, the femme fatales of G.I. Joe are not to be trifled with.

Unless the daring trifler is the Baroness, who pretty much runs Cobra.     


Start fresh

Let’s face it, even franchise-relief pitcher The Rock couldn’t help G.I. Joe retaliate back to glory in Retaliation. That’s no knock on The Rock, and sure, if he wants to come back as Roadblock, well, he’s The Rock and I’m not going to tell him anything but “Yes.”

Still, I’m really excited to see talented newcomers suiting up in Snake Eyes: G.I. Joe Origins, like Henry Golding’s Snake Eyes, Andrew Koji’s Storm Shadow, and Samara Weaving’s Scarlett, and would love to see similarly inspired fresh takes on the next film’s real American heroes. 

G.I. Joe #1

Look to the comics

Can Larry Hama just oversee every draft of the script, please? No one knows more about these characters than the main man behind the majority of Marvel’s fantastic Real American Hero comics and most of the totally awesome file cards on the backs of the similarly named toy line figures (not to mention his IDW reboot).

Let’s just look straight to some of Hama’s best stories to base the movie upon, like pretty much anything in the first 100 issues.

A post-credits “Knowing Is Half the Battle” scene

Honestly, if we’re leaning into the fan service here, let’s go for broke. Is there any aspect of G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero more widely known then the PSA ads that played at the end of each episode?

If knowing truly is half the battle, perhaps they could come up with a PSA that lets us know what the other half is. Seriously, I’ve been waiting a long time for that seemingly important detail.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are the author's, and do not necessarily reflect those of SYFY WIRE, SYFY, or NBC Universal.