SNAKE EYES AND G.I. JOE:
FROM TOYS TO THE BIG SCREEN
By Lee Parham
From action figures to comics and animated TV series, G.I. Joe has evolved into a large multimedia franchise over the years.
Before any form of published storytelling, G.I. Joe began as an iconic series of 12 inch action figures based on the different branches of the American Military in the mid 1960s.
Made by Hasbro, the first decade of figures produced only made generic and nameless characters based on real-life military and scientific professions with no hint of an original storyline.
With the success of The Six Million Dollar Man in the 1970s, Hasbro changed their approach by adding science fiction elements to G.I. Joe with bionic warrior figures like Mike Power and Atomic Man.
The Six Million Dollar Man
The introduction of sci-fi storytelling saw the end of 12 inch figures, and with the rising popularity of the Kenner Star Wars figures, Hasbro converted G.I. Joe to the now legendary 3.75 inch scale.
Along with their new size, G.I. Joe received an onslaught of new characters, weapons, vehicles, and plot threads, including the introduction of their infamous antagonists Cobra.
The new line of G.I. Joe action figures propelled the franchise to new heights, skyrocketing in popularity and launching a slew of additional merchandise, comic books, and the beloved animated series.
The 3.75 inch line lasted until 1994 when Hasbro cancelled the series and began making 12 inch figures again in honor of the franchise’s 30th anniversary. Many other lines have come and gone since.
G.I. Joe remained an established IP through the mid-2000s when Hasbro decided to adapt another famous toy line and cartoon of theirs, Transformers, into a big budget Hollywood blockbuster.
Transformers was a resounding success financially and with it Hasbro began searching for the next brand they owned that could receive the same treatment. Thus the live action G.I. Joe movie was born.
G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra was released in summer 2009 and starred Channing Tatum, Marlon Wayans, Sienna Miller, Dennis Quaid, Rachel Nichols, and Joseph Gordon-Levitt.
Despite mixed reaction from fans and critics alike, the film earned enough money for the studio to greenlight a sequel released in 2013 called G.I. Joe: Retaliation.
G.I. Joe: Retaliation added action superstars Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Bruce Willis into the mix and managed to outgross the original film at the worldwide box office and had better reviews.
Despite a solid box office return on investment, a third G.I. Joe film struggled to get off the ground in production, leaving the franchise in limbo for the rest of the 2010’s.
One consistent element of the franchise remained, the popularity of the mysterious masked ninja character Snake Eyes originally played by famous stuntman and Darth Maul actor Ray Park.
Traction on a Snake Eyes spinoff movie began in 2018, with Crazy Rich Asians star Henry Golding tapped to play the character in 2019 with Divergent series alum Robert Schwentke set to direct.
Snake Eyes: G.I. Joe Origins tells the untold story of the man behind the mask and how he became a skilled assassin. It also dives deeper into his relationship with his iconic foe Storm Shadow.
Snake Eyes is expecting to bring new life to the G.I. Joe franchise and hopefully reinvigorate the classic series for a new generation.