Okay, admission: I know GIJOE is going to be bad. I wish I could say otherswise, but really? I know it, I know it, I know it.
‘Nuff said, right?
I have, quite literally, waited for this movie for most of my life. I can remember being in first or second grade, which would have been roughly 1983 when the second wave of the original 3 Â¾” figures came out. The series that introduced Gung Ho, Recondo, Rip Cord and Major Bludd. I can remember being so into the figures that on the rare night my parents’ left us with a babysitter they would come home to excited lies of seeing a GIJOE movie on tv, regardless of what the pullout newspaper weekly tv supplement said*. I’d concoct scenarios from my imagination like Major Bludd hanging from the end of Gung Ho’s grenade launcher begging for salvation and Gung Ho matter-of-factly sending him rocketing to his death via one Class A live round.
What was wrong with me you might naturally ask? I was in love with GIJOE and desperately wanted stories to accompany my favorite toys.
Not too long after this the cartoon premiered and I was freakin’ Ecstatic! The poisonous voice of the late Chris Latta as Cobra Commander, the regal and (even then) slightly douchee pride of Conrad S. Hauser** and the slithery sensuality of The Baroness brought my imagination to new levels and my appetite for backstory through the rough. Yet no matter how much I loved the cartoon there was never any continuity: a new ‘season’ would begin and old characters would be pushed into the background in favor of the new series who needed to be in the spotlight (after all, these were essentially half-hour long commercials).
Then I found Larry mutha-fuckin’ Hama and the GIJOE comic book. Sing praise now and behold the greatness that was an enormous run on a comic every bit as comprehensive and history-making as Sir Chris Claremont’s famous run on another little Marvel book, The Uncanny X-Men.
Larry Hama made the GIJOE comic the shit. Essentially still just another commercial in theory the book was in reality anything but that. Long-running, slow-developing continuity that steeped and stoked some of the most amazing revelations and plot twists in this comic fan’s experience, Hama built and tore down the Joe Universe multiple times, deftly rolling with the punches of Corporate responsibility without ever losing face. And the more laughable the incoming characters (figures) became the better the story got. They said ‘Introduce Sgt. Slaughter and Hama managed to do it without making it Sgt. Slaughter. He didn’t straight up diss what Hasbro wanted, but he padded it so that it was years before I ever realized that the figure, and thus character, was actually based on a, gasp, pro-wrestler.
Serpentor? What might have been an insanely crippling idea for a character in any other book so strongly steeped in reality*** was handled with such an insanely realistic manner that to this day I think if I could get Ghengis Khan’s corpse + one tranced out and bullet-ridden Ninja I could potentially create a guy to run around with a snake cowl on his head telling stories of the first pizza. I’m rambling but the point is Serpentor blended seamlessly into the amazing narrative that Hama spun of intrigue, combat, revenge and obsession.
And now we have Accelerator Suits.
It’s clear the makers of the forthcoming JOE movie felt inferior to and pressured by the success of the Transformers movies. Too bad. So instead of what potentially could have been Full Metal Jacket-meets-Fight Club we’re getting, again, accelerator suits.
I’m trying to limit the hype I ingest but it’s difficult having waited for this for so long. Here’s a breakdown of what we’ve seen so far and how it weighs in to me:
Aforementioned Accelerator suit= lame
Baroness= really fucking hot!!!
Destro= A+, someone finally read the file card – HE’S FUCKING SCOTTISH, not Barry White!!!
Ninja’s= a bit much with the car hopping, but fuck it, LOOKS AWESOME
Undersea base= although a throwback to cartoon mentality you gotta admit, looks awesome
Inclusion of a Wayans brother= why o why o why? Didn’t someone recently bomb the Wayans factory and shut down production on these no talent ass clowns?
Duke= Meh. Didn’t care about him beforel, don’t care now that he’s got a scar
Mr. Echo w/ large machine gun= NICE! Time to issue some payback to that nasty old smoke monster Cerebus
Joseph Gordon Levit= The perfect, perfect, PERFECT choice for Cobra Commander. But no hood? A blue monocle? A respirator? If this is a ‘Darth Vader’ take I don’t know… (Duke, I’m your… old roommate).
If anybody needs me I’ll be holding my breath until around August 7th.
* Fuck paying for tv guide!
** God help me I just pulled his middle initial from memory! Thank god I’ve already lured in a wife or I’d never get one now!
*** Hama researched the military stuff in the book really well – he’s versed enough to be a contributing author to the Osprey series of Military history you see in most book stores (the slim, white-spined series of books with titles like ‘Spanish Armada’ and ‘Panzer Division 1944-45′)
Behind every great book adaptation is a forgettable first try. — By Ryan Covey