It's been more than 20 years since the last major film incarnation of G.I. Joe. That movie, an animated feature, wound up going straight to VHS (remember those?) after a similar Transformers effort didn't burn up the box office.
Now on the heels of a mega-popular revival of Transformers, another huge Hasbro toy icon is heading to the big screen with the live-action G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra.
Jeff Labovitz, Hasbro's senior manager of global brand development for G.I. Joe, took time recently to answer a few questions:
Question: As someone familiar with the toy line, what do you think of the film's casting? Are there characters who you thought were cast perfectly?
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Answer: The casting is truly amazing across the board. Sienna Miller has really captured the essence of the Baroness while bringing something extra to the role to really make it her own; her transformation is outstanding!
Ray Park as Snake Eyes and Byung-hun Lee as Storm Shadow are also two casting choices that are really exciting to see on screen. Both are so charismatic in their own ways and do a great job in bringing two of the most iconic ninjas and G.I. Joe characters to life.
Q: Which characters do you wish had been included in the movie?
A: Most of the fan favorites are featured, such as Snake Eyes, Storm Shadow and the Baroness.
While some of our other favorites such as Ship Wreck and Flint are not in the movie, we were able to include them in the G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra action-figure line.
We reimagined these characters in action-figure form and tried to think about, "If they were in the movie, how would they look?"
Q: The original G.I. Joe vs. Cobra cartoon series covered a lot of ground. What would you peg as the best episodes that could translate to the big screen?
A: That's a tough one. A lot of us here at Hasbro grew up watching the cartoon, so it's really awesome to be able to work not only on the toy line but with the filmmakers to bring the G.I. Joe vs. Cobra saga to the big screen.
The original cartoon definitely has its roots firmly planted in the '80s, so I think Paramount did a great job in updating these classic story lines of good versus evil for a new generation in a really cool, really contemporary way.
And, while the cartoon is really cool, I think fans will see that the movie will be more relatable to the '80s comic book series and that story line.
Q: Should the director kill off Duke and then re-edit him to be alive? (Nerd note: Duke was set to die in the 1987 animated film, but was re-edited to be in a coma and then recover after negative fan reaction to Optimus Prime's death in the Transformers film.)
Actually on that front, how do you believe audiences today would react to such a high-profile character being killed off?
A: Do you have something against Duke? Seriously though, I think audiences today look for that high-stakes drama where "no one is safe."
With this being a relaunch of one of Hasbro's classic brands, I hope we don't lose anyone too important to the G.I. Joe vs. Cobra story line too soon.