I was a huge fan of the GI Joe comics back in the day. I even watched the cartoons because knowing is half the battle and I had the toys (Zartan was the fucking BOMB, yo!). I had it all.
I know the Marvel Comics product was meant only as a vehicle for Hasbro to sell toys, just like the Transformers cartoons and their truly God-awful line of comics. But somewhere along the line, Larry Hama turned the book into a truly great comic. As a veteran, I can look back and see there are some pretty glaring flaws, like enlisted servicemembers flying F-16s, etc., but as with any comic, there has to be a certain suspension of disbelief. The one-liners were strong, the character development was superb, and people got their asses KILLED.
For me, the comic became a must-purchase at issue 12, the beginning of the Sierra Gordo plotline that dug into Snake Eyes’ background and ended with the deaths of some of the major players, including General Flag, Kwinn the Eskimo, and Dr. Venom. What followed that? Issue 21, considered by many as one of the strongest single-issue storylines of that era, and not just in that comic, but industry wide. The story didn’t have a single word and introduced the world to Storm Shadow, the conflicted ninja bodyguard of Cobra Commander and a man with a mysterious tie to Snake Eyes.
So the comic was becoming critically-acclaimed, the cartoon growing more awful by the minute (but created some awesome YouTube memes), and toy sales began to taper off. The ’80s turned into the ’90s, GI Joe: A Real American Hero was eventually canceled and life moved on. Much later, the comics were rebooted with an edgier writing style that made the book even better and Hollywood, seemingly bereft of any original ideas, decided to turn it into a huge summer blockbuster movie…
…that sucked donkey nuts.
Yes, the stylized violence was there. Yes, the hot-as-fuck Baroness was one of the main characters because, thanks to hipsters, chicks with glasses have never been hotter and when she’s a cold-as-ice, gun-toting badass? Please. The one-liners were there, the gadgets were there, so what was missing?
The soul of the comic. At no point in the first movie did you ever give a fuck about any of the Joes. Hell, I was ROOTING for some of them to take a bullet to the temple. It seemed the movie only existed as a reason to create some very cool, very misleading trailers, giving viewers and old-school fans like me a reason to bust a nut. Nut not busted, it took me three tries to actually sit through the entire movie. And I tried. Sweet baby Jebus, I tried. Much like Phantom Menace, I wanted this movie to be good. But it wasn’t. It just wasn’t.
But there is possible redemption. GI Joe: Retaliation could be sweet. Dwayne Johnson (finally dropping “The Rock” even though he’s returned to wrestling part-time, but whatever) and Bruce Willis are starring and this could finally be the movie that makes Johnson a true action star and not just a good-looking guy who apparently will say yes to whatever his agent puts in front of him. Willis’ name being tied to the project automatically gives it some credibility and, based on the trailers, there seems to be some chemistry between the two. Having said that, I’m not getting fucked over again by a well-produced commercial. But dammit, I WANT this movie to work. I want to forget the piece of shit that was the first one and I want the sequel to be the great film the first one should’ve been. I mean, Zartan kills most of the Joes and the remaining Joes band together to avenge them? Oh, HELLZ yes.
But again, the first one had some great promise but was one of a long line of movies whose best lines and scenes were used in the trailer. Please, Stephen Sommers, please don’t let us down. I so hope you did some research and understood why the comics were good and why the first movie sucked it like a back-alley whore desperately in need of smokes. I’m not watching it in the theater. I’m just not. Unless I get a free screening. I’m a whore for free screenings. So again, wearing my heart on my sleeve, I want my childhood back and I want it back in the form of a big-budgeted movie based on one of my favorite comics.
Is that so much to ask?