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It’s been a number of weeks now since I’ve seen this film and I meant to get this blog entry written much, much earlier than this, but with the movie having been released on DVD and Blu-Ray earlier today, I thought I’d whet the appetite of people who haven’t seen the film so that they would buy it now that it’s out. (Preferably from Beyond the Charts!)

In the heyday of G.I.JOE back in the late eighties/early nineties there was much talk about making a movie, but it was never done. By the mid-nineties the cartoon was found only in reruns on certain channels and the Marvel comicbook was getting canceled at the same time as the toyline was discontinued. It looked like the dreams of many had been lost.

In the intervening years following the end of the toyline, cartoon, and comicbook, the toyline was rebooted with an entirely different look to the figures and DarkHorse comics was brought on board to produce the comicbook and a new cartoon was created. Using totally different characters than the ones that had been around for over a decade, Hasbro was hoping to strike a fire twice. It didn’t happen. In just a little over a year’s time, the revamped G.I.JOE was gone and redone figures from the old line was issued, but without a cartoon or a comicbook, most of those got ignored.

Then at the turn of the century Image comics started publishing G.I.JOE the comicbook again using the same universe that Larry Hama had created in the Marvel comicbooks. Rather than just pick up where Larry left off, they jumped ahead to the modern days and created a back history for some of the major characters and revealed it in time during those issues as well as in the other comicbook they created that told various stories from the intervening years. After a lot of issues, G.I.JOE left Image and was published by the imprint that was using Image. That series ended too, but with the movie coming out this year, G.I.JOE came back strong at the beginning of the year.

The storyline of G.I.JOE The Rise of Cobra follows “Duke” Hauser and his teammate RipCord as they initially are helping transport a secure package for the U.S. that the government had gotten from M.A.R.S. a company owned by James McCullen Destro, but high tech flying craft swoop in and they wind up in a fight with Cobra. The Baroness gets the package, but they get it back with help from another team that comes in. And the movie goes from there.

Depending on if you were just a fan of the cartoon or both the cartoon and the comicbook, you’ll notice that the characters in a lot of cases are similar yet not like either interpretation that came before.

On the cartoon, Scarlett and Duke were an item, and in the comicbook it was her and Snake-Eyes; in the film she goes for another JOE.

On the cartoon and in the comicbook, the Baroness was an item with Destro. This doesn’t change in the movie, but the Baroness used to date one of the JOEs and had broken things with him when he couldn’t protect her brother from destruction in the war zone when they were both on duty in the war zone. This former relationship causes complications for her relationship with Cobra as the movie progresses. It also becomes apparent that Destro is quite jealous of anyone that gets close to the Baroness, even if she’s supposed to be posing as someone’s mistress, girlfriend, or even wife. He keeps Storm Shadow close to her and Storm Shadow is not against killing someone over even touching her.

Destro in both the comicbook and the cartoon wore a silver mask that was handed down from generation to generation in his family, but in the movie he doesn’t have anything like that until the end and the way his face is covered at the end is entirely different than anything we’ve seen before although the end result looks the same.

The relationship with Snake-Eyes and Storm Shadow is still tumultuous as it was in the comicbook. The cartoon didn’t focus on their relationship until it was almost over with. In the movie, the way they meet is different than it’s ever been told before and they are much younger too. Whether Storm Shadow will ever come over to the side of good as he did in other incarnations will be revealed in future movies.

A character that wasn’t in either the cartoon or comicbooks is a doctor that apparently has been hired by Destro to help enhance the soldiers genetically. His backstory does tie in with a character from classic G.I.JOE: Dr. Mindbender, but he isn’t that character. Not only that, his history ties in with the history of a couple of other characters in the movie.

Also, Zartan makes a few appearances. It becomes apparent that the color changing and chameleon days from the old toy, comicbook and cartoon series are over with as the focus is on his ability to disguise himself as different people. There’s a nice twist at the end of the movie regarding him that I won’t ruin for you. Just be watching and listening very carefully is all I have to say. Who knows? Maybe in the next film we’ll see if he does any color changing acts.

The real surprise is at the end when the Cobra Commander is finally revealed. All through the movie you are left to wonder when he’s going to show up. Indeed, the entire time it seems as if Destro is running the whole show. The reveal at the end was both sudden and a terrific plot twist and very satisfying. On the cartoon, he was from an ancient race known as Cobra-La whose leader sent him out to conquer and control the world for the glory of Cobra-La. In the comicbook, he was a down on his luck man who left his wife and took his son with him and decided to get revenge on everyone that screwed him by setting up a bunch of dummy organizations that raked in money until he was able to build up his army and start on his plan for world domination. Here we have an entirely different take on the Commander than any we have seen before.

The events of this movie clearly shows that they are building up to a sequel and probably a nice series of films if they film them close enough together in the coming years. This one really feels like a prequel or “origin” film. If this was the beginning of the book, I’d say it was the prologue. A very action packed, story filled prologue. They might not be able to pump them out once a year like Saw does, but even once every year and a half or two years would be better than the long waits between other films I’ve seen. If I get four or five good films out of this franchise over the next decade (including the one I’ve seen), then I’ll be quite satisfied.

Tomorrow I’ll be putting G.I.JOE The Rise of Cobra on my website, both in DVD and Blu-Ray format, so if you haven’t gotten it yet, you’ll find it available from Beyond the Charts. I recommend it.

Be encouraged,

David James
Founder – Beyond the Charts, LLC


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