There were a lot of things wrong with the 2009 movie G.I. Joe: Rise of Cobra — a lot of things. But it seems like the upcoming film G.I. Joe Origins: Snake Eyes has figured out to avoid them, and thus create the G.I. Joe movie franchise the previous films failed to do. First and foremost on that list? Not worrying about G.I. Joe.
If you weren’t a pretty knowledgeable fan of the franchise when Rise of Cobra came out, watching the film must have been overwhelming and frustrating. It throws so much at the audience — the existence of G.I. Joe, Destro and his metal destroying nanobots, nukes, Duke’s ex-fiancee inexplicably being part of a terrorist organisation, evil robot soldiers, a dude who can shape-shift for some reason, a bunch of ninja kids, I could go on and on. There’s never any ground to get grounded upon. People just show up and things just happen.
That appears not to be the case with Snake Eyes, which is, as its title suggests, about the fan-favourite character (played by Henry Golding)’s origin, most especially his time training with the Arashikage ninja clan and his friendship-turned-bitter rival with Storm Shadow, and how the two warriors are eventually drawn into the larger G.I. Joe and Cobra conflict, respectively. As producer Lorenzo di Bonaventura told Entertainment Weekly:
“Both Cobra and G.I. Joe take a back seat to the internal drama of the Arashikage and the [Snake Eyes] character. They are absolutely an element, but it’s looking at it this way: You meet somebody, watch their struggle, the struggle leads to the world of G.I. Joe and Cobra. It does not start as a G.I. Joe-Cobra movie. It starts as an Arashikage movie, a Snake Eyes character arc. You come to realise the Arashikage as they’ve traditionally been are affiliated with the Joes, therefore that brings in Cobra. There is a gradual reveal that there’s a larger world here.”
This was explored in Rise of Cobra, admittedly, but it was given just enough time to distract from the main movie yet not enough time to be compelling on its own. If Snake Eyes succeeds at it however, this is going to give audiences a door to enter the weird, science fiction-y world of G.I. Joe. And assuming that the movie doesn’t portray Snake Eyes as a badass blank slate — which Golding says he isn’t in the same EW interview, and there are enough stills of the movie of Golding without the Snake Eyes mask on that I feel pretty confident he’s right — this will give audiences a reason to actually care about this mute character (who stops speaking for a variety of tragic reasons throughout various Joe media) if they didn’t watch the syndicated ‘80s cartoon religiously. It’s potentially the perfect set-up for the franchise.
“Potentially” being the keyword; we’ll find out when G.I. Joe Origins: Snake Eyes premieres in Australia on Jul 22.