Monday, June 8, 2009

Knowing is Half the Battle

Every boy I knew growing up liked GI Joe (and many of the girls). We would run home from the bus stop everyday to catch the GI Joe cartoon. Everyone collected as many of the figures and machines as possible...because Oh My God their arms and legs were jointed! How cool was that?
I was always confused by a couple things:
  • Why was Cobra Commander such a whiny bitch in the cartoons? He was the head of a terrorist organization and yet he was always being a cry baby. He didn't seem tough...and he should have been tough. He should have been a total badass. I am sure they were trying to make him uncool so kids didn't want to emulate him, but that always caused it to ring false in my mind.
Cobra Commander art by Tim Seeley.

  • Why was the Joe team's weapon systems so ordinary and Cobra's so inventive? Did the GIs spend all their creativity and individuality on their outfits while Cobra's standard uniforms allowed them to have the budget for cutting edge weaponry? GI Joe's equipment looked like standard issue US Military hardware. Their Skystryker jet was an F-14, their Mobat tank was an in their one right but crap compared to the Rattler and the Hiss. Cobra had style.

The Rattler was an A-10 with wing mounted engines and the wings pivoted for vertical landing and an extra turbine on the tail for stability. A bubble cockpit and a machine gun turret? It was just cool.

Rattler Photo Stolen from

The HISS was probably not very functional as a tank, I don't think it would have been nearly stable enough. Plus it had two smaller barrels instead of one large one, but it looked fast and the driver had a cool uniform (I always liked the thigh high boots). I thought it was cool that two guys could stand on the back bumper area and shoot while the tank was moving.

GI Joe Mobat Tank Photo Stolen from

Hiss Photo Stolen from

But we all grow up, the cartoon plots became tired, the toys silly and we all drifted to new things. Then a few years ago, they tried to reboot the franchise with new toys and new cartoons, GI Joe Sigma Six. I watched a couple episodes and it was OK but I was disturbed at the animation. The characters looked like they were teenagers...young teenagers, not the cool barely legal kind. Yes, I know that in real life that many soldiers are under 21. The new Joe look however seemed wrong. First, it seemed like it was selling war to children. It was hard to believe that these fresh faced kids were battle hardened ass kickers who were experts in their respective fields. The tech was also too futuristic, too unrealistic. The whole show just didn't mesh. It was too cartoony. GI Joe fell off the radar screen again (well at least mine).

A few months ago, I heard that a new GI Joe mini-series was going to be shown on Adult Swim. The new series was called GI Joe Resolute. It was written by Warren Ellis whose previous comic work and web comic Freak Angels I highly enjoy. Warren Ellis doesn't do "kiddy" stuff, his stuff is bleak and tough and raw. I still had some reservations but was determined to watch. Resolute was great. Cobra was an evil team of terrorists, the Joe team was special forces/secret forces type team. Cobra Commander shot his own troops in the face when they failed (Oh man, I shot Marvin in the face!). Actual Joe and Cobra characters were killed. Characters had depth and emotions. It was what GI Joe should be. Not necessarily a realistic view of warfare but enough realism and fantasy to make it a good show. I highly enjoyed it.

This brings me to the new GI Joe live action movie: GI Joe: The Rise of Cobra. I was not looking forward to this, figuring that they would just make it completely horrible. From the trailer, I think this is probably right too. But yet, now that I got a taste of good GI Joe action, I am hoping that this is not the case. I am not dying to see this movie, but I am not dismissing it off-hand like I had earlier either. I am trying to be cautiously optimistic that they just haven't completely ruined GI Joe. We will see.


Lax Guy said...

I missed Resolute. I will definitely have to watch for it on DVD. For a while Boomerang and then G4 were airing reruns of the original series. Wish they would bring that back...
Sigma 6 was an abomination that never should have aired. Pseudo Anime, futuristic tech, weak characters = not cool. Toomany jump cuts. It was unwatchable. Topping the whole mess off, the toys were an odd scale.
As far as the movie - my initial reaction was utter glee. GI Joe remains the best toy/animated series of all time so how could I not be pumped? Then I read about Marlon Wayans. Oh god. Don't get me wrong, I like Marlon - in nutball comedies.
The moderinzing is to be expected. The goofy all black robo suits scare me. I've heard Destro isn't masked, but "realism" sells. Whatever
Still, the movie holds some promise with Dennis Quaid as Hawk, Mr. Echo from lost as Heavy Duty, and whoever that hot chick is playing Scarlet. Most importantly, Ray FREAKING Park as Snake Eyes is pure casting genius. The guy is the ultimate white boy badass - as long as he doesn't talk, which means he is the PERFECT Snake Eyes.
I figure if GI Joe is 1/2 as good as Transformers was, I can't be too upset...

kelly said...

There's no way the Joe movie could ever be as good as Street Fighter, let alone Mario Bros. Oh wait.