"I take orders from the Octoboss."

G.I. Joe: The Movie

tn_gijoeI am an individual who thirsts for knowledge and understanding, so I figured I should find out more about where these GI JOE movies come from. In my review of GI JOE: THE RISE OF COBRA I explained how the Ain’t It Cool Newsies put a nerd fatwah on me for saying GI JOE was based on a toy commercial, and made me read some comic books and admit that i could see how somebody good could turn the GI Joe saga into a colorful action movie with fun gimmicks and larger than life characters.

But since them I’ve talked to other dudes who never knew of the comics but have a nostalgic attachment to the toys and cartoons they grew up on, even if they know they’re dumb. And these cartoon-faction Joeists insisted I watch GI JOE: THE MOVIE, a 90 minute cartoon extravaganza intended for theatrical release IN 1987 but then it went DTV because, let’s face it, it was more of a TV cartoon than a motion picture. A reverse TOY STORY 2. It’s really something though.

By far the highlight of the movie (and only part where it doesn’t look like TV animation) is the opening, which is like a big Broadway number where the masked terrorists known as Cobra are trying to blow up the Statue of Liberty and the United States Armed Forces elite unit G.I. Joe are trying to stop them. The cartoon-camera zips around covering parts of this huge battle of jet packs, flying bubble cars, grappling hooks, people flying, falling, grabbing on, climbing, punching, shooting lasers and missiles… and it ends with our Real American Heroes holding a flag and posing on top of Lady Liberty’s crown. Planting a symbol of America onto a symbol of America. It’s like a pizza wrapped in a taco. But more meaningful.

Ah shit, there is no way to do that scene justice, you just gotta watch it.



Alot of people pointed out last summer that both THE DARK KNIGHT RISES and THE AVENGERS had villains using a revolutionary green energy device for evil. Some saw it as a backlash against or superstitious fear of modern environmentalism. But actually it’s just an homage to GI JOE: THE MOVIE. “The Joes,” as they call themselves, casually test out the Broadcast Energy Transmitter (or B.E.T.). “We’ll see if we wasted a billion dollars of tax payer money,” says Lady Jaye or somebody just before Duke or somebody pushes a button on a machine that could be towed by a station wagon but “could be the end of the world’s energy crisis.” It works! The world is saved!

mp_gijoeExcept… Cobra’s leader Serpentor (a guy in a yellow snake costume – Cobra Commander is now demoted and despised by every last one of his co-workers [but they still call him Cobra Commander so that must be his Christian name and not intended to indicate rank]) wants to steal the B.E.T. for a weird alien looking lady who broke into their base. See, it turns out there has always been this magical land nearby called Cobra-La where an ancient race of snake people and angels and shit live and are waiting for their chance to destroy the human race using plant and bug based technology. Like the Unabomer they hate us for our non-organic tech, they want to use spores to kill us, but they sure don’t mind using our billion dollar tax payer funded machine that their entire plan 100% hinges on. Fuckin fork tongued hypocrites. Go fuck yourselves, snake men.

At first I thought it was a weird coincidence that the bad guys are snake-themed and they happen to meet these monsters who have snake-shaped shit also, but then they reveal that Cobra Commander is not and never was Duke’s friend Joseph Gordon-Levitt like in the movie, actually he was a snake man scientist who they poisoned and put a mask on and sent out in the world to pretend to be human and use human technology and attack the world and never mention anything about an ancient race of snake people but secretly he’s preparing for their plant-based attack. He was the chosen one but now they’re disappointed in him and put him on trial for “the one unforgivable trial: failure.”

Interestingly, the trial is intercut with the court martial of one of the Joes, Lieutenant Falcon, played by Don Johnson (no shit, the real Don Johnson). His crime was that he’s a fucking moron. They captured Serpentor in battle, so basically they have Osama bin Laden locked up. Falcon’s supposed to be guarding the cell, and he brings in some girl he met to show off. (It is, of course, Zartan’s sister in disguise.) then, like 5 minutes after he gets dressed down for that, he abandons his post to hit on another girl, Jinx. When Jinx tells him to go back to his post he arrogantly describes all of the levels of security that bad guys would have to get through in order to free Serpentor, while onscreen we see the bad guys going through each of the levels of security in order to free Serpentor. All because Don Johnson can’t keep his dick in his pants.

(The bad guys are horny too. When the disguised villainess strips down to her swimsuit one of Zartan’s biker thugs, who doesn’t know it’s her, puts his hand on her shoulder and asks her if she’s going for a dip. What is this, DEATH WISH? He was totally gonna rape her, wasn’t he?)

Lucky for Mr. Falcon there is a weird approach to law in GI Joe where Duke’s explanation that “yeah, he’s pretty much the biggest failure in the history of American military, or any military really, but secretly he was only allowed on GI Joe because he’s my half brother and I feel sorry for him being so bad at everything and a danger to the whole world because of the idiotic thing that he just did” is a strong enough argument to get him a second chance. He can stay on the force but first he has to go out to the desert to re-train with WWF Superstar Sgt. Slaughter (voiced by WWF Superstar Sgt. Slaughter).

So the difference between human and snake culture is that our most idiotic fuckups are rewarded by getting to hang out with famous wrestlers, theirs are punished by being devolved back into snakes. But their side, if you count Cobra and not just the ancient ones, is full of weak-willed boobs. Even Cobra’s megalomaniacal emperor guy, Serpentor, immediately falls into line when some other monstery guy declares himself the leader. And the entire team, all humans, immediately agree to the Cobra-La master plan of using spores to kill all humans. I mean, even if they survive (some of them think they can hide in a cave) how good a life are they gonna have? Do they really want to start using giant bugs instead of their cool aircraft? It seems like it would be a pretty big adjustment.

By the way, they got Burgess Meredith to do the voice of bad guy Globulus.

In some ways this script seems to be modeled after the POLICE ACADEMY sequels. In addition to Sgt. Slaughter’s training camp there is another subplot about another training camp where another group of gimmicky inept people also go into training. “Funny” things happen like a guy who somehow secretly brought his dog with him has the dog do a bomb-finding exercise, and then the dog keeps bringing the bomb back. It seems to me like it would be unsafe to tell a completely untrained stranger to go find an actual bomb that is actually gonna explode and also to not tell him that it is an actual bomb that is actually gonna explode. But then I’m not part of an elite fighting force so maybe it’s just over my head.

Anyway, just like in a POLICE ACADEMY, these people all have no training and pretty much fail everything they are tested on and then are sent to do an important mission anyway. Luckily Jinx can do ninjitsu if they let her put a blindfold on.

Then some other shit happens and giant bugs like in NAUSICCA. This movie made me understand better how much more fun the live action GI JOE pictures could be, but also made me appreciate that their stories at least aren’t as dumb and unstructured as this bullshit. But it’s a shame that the battles in the movies aren’t anywhere near as crazy as that Statue of Liberty opening. Some things missing even in the Stephen Sommers movie: flying bubble cars, evil twins, bikers with Road Warrior cars, a guy getting his cape stuck in the fan of his flying sled, a blond guy who wears a Hawaiian shirt into battle, Sgt. Slaughter beating the shit out of an angel named Nemesis Enforcer. (Before each wrestling move he says who it’s for, like “This is for Duke!”, and when he said “This is for Falcon!” I thought he said “This is for fashion!” Making fun of the way the guy dresses. Would’ve been funny.)

It’s funny to hear them all talking about B.E.T. all the time. Why are they all fighting over B.E.T.? It’s important to note that in GI JOE all black people are athletes. One of the most prominent characters is Roadblock (played by The Rock in the movie), whose dialogue is entirely in rhymes in a fake Muhammad Ali voice. I think the only other brother on the team is a new recruit called Big Lob, who wears a basketball jersey and narrates all of his combat in the point of view of a sports broadcaster. Even in the GI JOE cartoon PSAs included as an extra on the blu-ray there’s only one black kid, and he’s spinning a basketball and talking about being in the NBA. The white kids just get to talk about eating healthy.

There’s a funny bit at the end where Duke dies heroically, taking a snake for Falcon. (Yes, he jumps in front of a magic snake that Serpentor wears around his neck but it turns stiff when he throws it like a spear.) As he dies he whispers their catch phrase, “Yo joooooooeeeeee.” And the general says it to himself too, tears streaming down his face. Good shit.

But apparently they sissied out and decided they couldn’t kill him off, so there are off screen voices that tell us “he’s slipping into a coma” and later “Good news, Doc says Duke is gonna be a-okay!” Moments later Falcon is looking up at the heavens, marveling at the miracle of the world being saved, and whispers “Thanks, big brother.” I guess maybe he didn’t hear what they were talking about when they said he wasn’t dead.

Director Don Jurwich is of course a guy that worked on a million TV cartoons, but this was not his first time directing animation for the big screen. This was his first time:


Writer Ron Friedman was a veteran TV writer for Fantasy Island and Gilligan’s Island as well as most of the non-island TV shows they had also. And he did TRANSFORMERS THE MOVIE, so he was the go-to guy I guess for enjoyably brain damaged movies made to sell cartoons made to sell toys.


This entry was posted on Sunday, April 14th, 2013 at 10:34 pm and is filed under Cartoons and Shit, Reviews. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

57 Responses to “G.I. Joe: The Movie”

  1. “and giant bugs like in NAUSICCA.”

    hmmm, never thought I’d see you reference that Vern

  2. that’s also the best animated action sequence involving the Statue of Liberty I’ve seen since READ OR DIE

  3. Chopper Sullivan

    April 15th, 2013 at 12:30 am

    “There’s only two ways out of my command: on your feet like a man, or in a ditty bag. An itty bitty ditty bag.”

    -Sgt. Slaughter

    Masterful stuff, Vern.

  4. The Confidential Op

    April 15th, 2013 at 1:23 am

    “You play me wrong and theirs no doubt I’l TUUUURN your eyeballs inside out”

    I watched this on video every day for about a year of my childhood. In Ireland it was called Action Force and they overdubbed “Yo Joe” with “Full Force”. Our version of the theme song was nowhere near as awesome either…

  5. I don’t even now if this was ever released over here until a few years ago, when the Stephen Sommers movie hit theatres. Germany has been pretty much a G.I. Joe free zone.

  6. well here in God’s USA, it’s a right of passage for a boy to have a GI Joe, being a 90’s kid I largely missed ut on the 80’s style mini figures, but what I did have was more in line with the original GI Joes from the 1960’s

    it was this guy http://www.yojoe.com/12inch/91/duke1.shtml

    sadly though, he never really had anybody to fight (save for the T-Rex from jurassic Park), it was the post Desert Storm 90’s after all…

  7. I remember G.I JOE was called ACTION FORCE over here back in the day. I remember the comicbooks, but they just looked boring and generic action figures to me even as a kid. I was more into Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles, somehow the combination of crazy genetic mutations, and martial arts was more appealing to me.

  8. “Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles.” Man, I can’t get over the censorship of ninjas and nunchakas over there. Over here we pretty much try to put ninjas in everything, and yet it is fairly rare that ninja clans do battle in the streets. Although it could be more often than we realize due to the power of invisibility.

  9. I never got into the cartoon as a kid. I was more of a TRANSFORMERS and MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE guy.

    But I loved the comic book. While the cartoon was, well, a cartoon with blue lasers and red lasers and nobody getting killed, the comic was more grounded military fiction. It was pretty damn cool to read about real world (well, “real”) military action with unique and colorful heroes. And ninjas! And the writing was pretty damn good. I remember them tackling storytelling with no dialogue and only visuals. And there was one pretty cool story arc with a bunch of Joes left behind after a botched mission, tried for espionage, sent to a hellish prison camp, and disavowed by their own. Then other Joes defy orders and go in and rescue them. Real page turner stuff when you’re a teenager.

    I think Larry Hama wrote *every* issue of its long multi-year run. He managed to successfully juggle good, fun storytelling, interesting character arcs, and the ever increasing demands of the toy department to add more and more characters and vehicles with increasingly ridiculous gimmicks. That’s quite impressive.

  10. BTW, am I the only one who kinda misses PSAs at the end of cartoons? He-Man taught me to roll on the ground if I ever catch fire!

  11. Censorship in the UK is weird and inconsistent. Telex released their 1981 album SEX as BIRDS AND BEES in the UK, even though there was a number one album called NEVER MIND THE BOLLOCKS HERES THE SEX PISTOLS 4 years earlier.

  12. So, there actually were ninjas in ACTION FORCE (G.I JOE)?! If I knew, I probably would have engaged myself into that world more than I did. I loved ninjas as a kid ( I still do!) but I blame the creators for not putting such awesome shit like that in the forefront since what I remember of ACTION FORCE were armyguys, not ninjas.

  13. The opening was Larry Houston showing off. He got his start storyboarding for other Marvel productions (See the making of Amazing Spider-Man on YouTube with Larry as the African-American guy with an early walkman) before becoming a full episode director of Karate Kid, X-Men, and more recently the abandoned animated Conan feature with Ron Perlman. John Chu should have got him to storyboard the live-action Joe sequel, but he could still get him for the He-Man movie as he drew some of the first mini-comics.

  14. Sorry, I meant making of Spiderman and His Amazing Friends:

  15. Spider-Man: On the Move (Part 1)
    Spider-Man: On the Move (Part 2)

  16. HT: There were at least three “silent” issues of the G.I. Joe, comic, and they were some of the best monthly Marvel comics of the 80s (and I think the third was published in the early 90s). They all involved Storm Shadow, Snake Eyes and Zartan, and I recall the third issue was this amazing battle between Storm Shadow and Zartan that ended with them careening through San Francisco in VW vans, firing arrows at each other and heading for the Golden Gate Bridge.

    And the prison camp arc was excellent. It was so bleak and realistic, more like a John Le Carre novel then what you’d expect in a toy-based comic book supposedly aimed at kids. Highlights: The Joes getting into the Eastern European Soviet satellite nation disguised as foreign investors and diplomats; “You got any grenades in that bag?” “Grenades are very hard to come by in this country…”; The resistance fighter saying, “Ah, better then the gulag” moments before he got blown up; the fourth member of the team hiding in the sewers as the other Joes are beaten by the army up above him, and their blood trickling through the grate to drip on his head….

    Larry Hama work on GI Joe is very underrated. At his best, he rivaled the iconic 80s monthly books like Sandman and Swamp Thing.

  17. Was the movie the first time it was revealed that Cobra Commander was an actual cobra? I saw the cartoon and the movie many years ago, but I don’t remember a lot. GI Joe wasn’t really something that I’m overly nostalgic for. Even though I was around in the 80s, it was the 90s cartoons that I remember fondly. Whenever I knock GI Joe the cartoon (because, let’s be honest, it’s kind of terrible), people always bring up the comic books. It sounds like I should track those down.

  18. JD: I remember that one. I always remember it because it had that cool shot of Zartan shooting at Storm Shadow neatly through the quiver he had on his bow, destroying all his arrows. With no arrows left, Storm Shadow grabs one Zartan shoots at him from tha air, and uses it to kill the driver of the van. It was pretty badass.

    RBatty024: Yeah, Cobra Commander being an actual cobra was from the movie. In the comic, I think he was a petty con man and an used car salesman (if I recall correctly) before striking gold with his idea for the Cobra organization. I really liked that it was an unique yet mundane origin for a feared terrorist leader.

  19. HT: YES! Grabbing the arrow out of the air. : ) Extremely badass.

    And the “origin” stories Hama wrote for various characters were also among his best work on the book. Cobra Commander was just this bitter guy who’d failed at pretty much everything and always blamed it on somebody else: the government, American society, the media, big business, ect ect. Cobra Commander’s older brother had been in Vietnam and then killed in a car crash that also wiped out Storm Shadow’s family, and that seemed to have been the final straw that sent Cobra Commander over the edge. He conceived of Cobra as a combination of an Al-Queda type terrorist organization and a sort of Ponzi scheme that would appeal to similarly frustrated and disenchanted American workers like himself.

    The issue before the San Francisco fight had a great flashback to Cobra Commander starting up Cobra and recruiting Zartan (described by another character as “some weirdo zen biker hitman”) in a dive bar in Florida. Cobra Commander’s wearing a blue bussiness suit (of course), his face always hidden from view, and Zartan’s this guy with a blond ponytail–they’re negotiating contracts for Zartan’s services as Zartan beats the hell out of some bikers around a pool table. Great seque

  20. Another great Larry Hama-scripted moment in the comics: the flashback to Storm Shadow and Snake Eyes as members of a Long Range Recon Patrol in Vietnam. Perfect detail: the dust-off chopper that comes to pick them up has “Squatter Swatter” written on the nose.

  21. Let’s take a minute to pour one out for Chris Latta, because his Cobra Commander/Starscream voice was the best thing about 80’s cartoons. Way to go dude.

    “I was onceeeee a maaaaaaannn.”

  22. Chris Latta, man.

  23. Man I miss the Chris Latta voice too – Joseph Gordon Levitt claimed using it would have been unimaginative, but I don’t see how a generic Darth Vader voice was any better. Plus it doesn’t really physically fit JGL or whoever that second guy was in Retaliation.

    *SPOILER* I’m a sucker for whenever bad guys turn good or a temporary team-up is required, as seen in this movie with Cobra Commander and both live action movies. There’s something universally appealing about that plot device, especially in pro-wrestling (I’ll always remember when Sting and Lex Luger had to team up with perennial villain Ric Flair to fight off a now-evil Hulk Hogan and the NWO). I was kinda hoping GI Joe III would have the Serpentor storyline with Cobra Commander sorta teaming up with the Joes, but so far he’s been barely developed in the movies and then there’s that thing where he murdered several million people in London in part 2.

    Also, I really wish both movies had the PSAs at the end. I’d argue that they’re one of the most memorable things about the show, and pretty much every kid I know remembers the whole “hey it’s a power line! Let’s jump over it!” one.

  24. Never heard of this movie until maybe a year or 2 ago when someone showed me the awesome opening sequence, on which I agree with Vern & everybody about its ridiculous awesomeness.

    And I never heard of the GI Joe funny papers or the tv cartoon, I don’t think, except in some vague concept of a memory of a concept of a memory that may have been accidentally self-osmosised from general internet browsing & references and not from actually seeing any of the cartoons. Never owned the toys, either, but I was probably aware of them.

    What I’m saying is, those AICNewsies are nerds (duh) and nostalgia is wackness unless this cartoon had the intended effect of converting [potential] nerds into actual soldiers & American heroes.

    How many folks were inspired to sign up, ruck up, and fall in after being exposed to the synergistic GI JOE media?
    Or did they just go out and get dolls & nerf guns to play with in the back yard, like how STAR WARS inspired & furthered the idea of space travel & becoming an astronaut but, instead of actually resulting in an increased nerd-festation of real science & engineering & astrophysics curricula that would help NASA achieve its goals, it merely led to a bunch of dweebs finding the most useless, obnoxious possible ways to complain about fictional “science”?
    How many were brainwashed by GI JOE’s awesome jetpacks & flag-waving and then enlisted? Even during the relatively calm peacetime of the 80s & 90s? Bueller? Bueller?
    Propaganda fail.

    I enjoyed the preview of Jurwich’s treatment of fairy tales, though.

  25. Sorry if I’m remembering wrong Mouth, but wasn’t your avatar perennial loser Cobra villain Raptor for a little while?

    Speaking of Raptor, my favorite Larry Hama comic moment is when he showed up and Cobra Commander was like “Ok I spent 10 billion dollars on a crazy plan to harvest the DNA from dead military geniuses through history to create the perfect leader of my snake-themed terrorist army that somehow worked against all logical science, but this goony asshole in a bird suit is too ridiculous even for me. GTFO Raptor, you suck.”

  26. Was it? {googling…} I guess it was. For a while, I borrowed an image once posted by Mr. Majestyk. The context at the time was humorous, some Seagal-related inside joke maybe?, but I didn’t know what or who it was.

    My toys of choice were always Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, water guns, and sports. I’ve outgrown 1 of those 3.

  27. Marlow & Mouth, I could be wrong but I think Majestyk posted that image of Raptor in response to my idea for a Seagal film that I wrote about in the talk backs where Seagal took on an evil sheik on a hunting expedition for an American bald eagle. I wish I could remember what review I wrote that in. Is there a way to search this site by reviews you have posted on? If I remember correctly it might have been a few years ago that I posted it.

  28. While we are on the subject of avatar pictures, I have often wondered but never asked if anybody could make out what my avatar picture is?

  29. The only thing I remember about Raptor was, when I was going through the sacred American male ritual of destroying your old toys to symbolize your transition to adulthood/preference for boobs, I shot Raptor in the head with a one-pump BB gun from 20 yards and the impact tore his entire back out. What a chump.

  30. Charles: EASTERN CONDORS?

    And that memory seems about right. Something about ON DEADLY GROUND a couple years back, I reckon, and possibly involving Charles Bronson in the joke/reference.

  31. Only on The Outlaw Vern forum would an inside joke about Steven Seagal lead to a picture of the G.I. Joe most remembered for his overall shittiness. It’s a special place here, and I mean that as an honest compliment.

    Charles: Is that still from THE SEVENTH CURSE?

  32. I had to comb through a number of Vern’s Seagal related posted to find it, but here it is in the talk back for BORN TO RAISE HELL.


    As usual my posts are littered with typos and poor grammar please forgive me.

    PS: In looking for that thread I think I may have stumbled upon my first post ever on Outlawvern.com. It is on Vern’s review of Seagal’s THE KEEPER. I can’t believe that it has been almost 4 years since I first started posting here. I try to go out of my way to thank Vern as much as possible, but I also want to take second to thank the Outlawvern.com community because you guy are a big part of what makes this my favorite site on net. Thanks everybody!

  33. Yes, marlow it is. I just worries the picture is to unclear to make out.

  34. I still think the Resident Evil games stole the entire concept if Deus ex Rocketlauncher to kill the big bad from that film.

    Man, they just don’t make bugfuck supernatural HK movies like that nowadays.

  35. Marlow, I completely agree.

    I love THE 7th CURSE. If I were to program a one night horror film international extravaganza it would include THE 7th CURSE with, DEAD ALIVE, EVIL DEAD 2, and HAUSU aka House.

    My apologizes to everybody for completely derailing this thred.

  36. Why don’t any of the AICN nerd-nostalgia ulema get on here and tell us why this cartoon & GI JOE universe is worthy of our attention
    (aside from obvious filmatistic-spectacle achievements of the last 4 years)
    and why they issued the fatwah on our host in the first place? Afraid to enter Vern’s dojo or what? All this nerd-bashing is less fun if there’s no [limpwristed] pushback.

  37. Actually I´m not familiar with THE SEVENTH CURSE. I´m intrigued.

  38. Wasn’t in the G.I. JOE comics also where Cobra became an independent nation and like a member of the U.N.? That’s the sort of inspired lunacy I can get behind.

  39. Vern – I’m surprised you didn’t mention the best scene in this movie, where the basketball player somehow finds a way to conveniently use his hoop skills to defeat that obstacle course, shooting a grenade into that (whatever I can’t remember what it was) and it rolling around the rim?

  40. Shoot, here is what I said about THE 7th CURSE in the suggestion thread, “This one has Kung Fu, Monsters, lots of blood & gore, and Chow Yun-Fat smokes a pipe and packs a rocket launcher, from the director of RIKI-OH: THE STORY OF RICKY. What more can you ask for?”. It is also written and produced by HK exploitation film maestro Wong Jing, who is probably best known for his numerous Jet Li & Stephen Cho collaborations. Jing’s prolific body of work also includes writing and directing MERCENARIES FROM HONG KONG and producing the sleazy & violent cat III classic NAKED KILLER.

    In the interest of trying to get this thread back on track, I have to confess to being totally into G.I. Joe as a kid, but I don’t really have any nostalgia for it. However, I still enjoy the art and character design of the G.I. Joe franchise. It is the best of any toy line, and way cooler than the likes of He-Man or the Transformers.

  41. RRA: Yessir, Cobra Island. They had an embassy in New York.

  42. Charles, I would pay money to see your film festival.

    Poor Big Lob, the coolest guy introduced in the movie and he never got his own toy. Instead we got Captain Grid-Iron and his football shaped grenades. I wish I was making that up.

    Anyone remember the run from the Joe comics where they fought in what was pretty much Operation Desert Storm and that’s when Larry Hama slaughtered a bunch of b-listers (plus Quick-Kick and Doc)?

  43. Roadblock’s an athlete? I thought he was an army cook.

  44. Yeah, well, he also cooks.

  45. Mouth – supposedly quite a lot of guys joined the military because of GI Joe and supposedly that was the point of GI Joe to begin with

  46. Army cook is a horrible, difficult job. Out of all the regular Army & Ranger Batt paratroopers I’ve known, the cooks probably work the longest hours most consistently. Never go home early, never get extended “breaks” in the field, always smothered in heat & grease & garbage, rarely get the same promotion opportunities as other MOSes unless they go above & beyond to become qualified for other skills, and rarely get compliments to cancel out all the complaints about overdone meats & repetitive menu items. And the only assistance they get in washing dishes & maintaining MKTs is when the combat units send them over the shitbag soldiers who fucked up; it’s a punishment to help do what the cooks do.

    But they *are* athletes. All of them. They do the same morning PT as everyone else.

    Griff, my googling hasn’t indicated any stats to back up that claim. There was a diversity of toys & cartoons at the time — how many little girls in previous decades were influenced to truly believe that they would ride flying unicorns and live in houses made of sugar or drive pink Corvettes to Ken’s cottage or whatever? If any, did that dream-thinking not die upon a certain age?

    I mean, no one I know set out to learn swordsmanship so that he could be ready to defeat skeleton sorcerers. A few of us messed with nunchaku or sai when we found them, but no one dreamed of living in the sewer and eating pizza everyday.

    So, was GI JOE really any more successful at changing behavior, changing life/career expectations, than other cartoons/toys at the time?

  47. The Joes came from the same place as every cartoon from the 80’s: A 30 minute toy commercial. Ronald Reagan changed the FCC regulations that prevented children’s programming to exist simply as a marketing tool and every toy maker in town was off to the races. Hasbro needed something to compete with the juggernaught that was He-Man so they dusted off an old property that happened to catch the zeitgeist of might that was Reagan’s America. Profits over propaganda. I don’t think there was more to it than that.

    And try not to think about the fact that all the epic mythology used to half-assedly teach you right from wrong was just to get your parents to buy you shit.

  48. The intro with all the Joes fighting Cobra at the Statue of Liberty was the best part of the movie to me too, Vern. The rest of the movie was just too weird with all that Cobra-La stuff and devoting time to these new characters like Duke’s asshole half brother Lt. Falcon.

  49. Also Duke was supposed to die in the movie but after so many parents complained that their kids were upset over Optimus Prime dying in the TRANSFORMERS movie they had Duke just go into a coma.

  50. “Now you know, and knowing is half the battle. Go Joe!”

    Loved the PSA’s. I wouldn’t watch the show until the last few minutes so I could see one. I also really liked a Batman PSA I saw once where a kid didnt brush his teeth, so he woke up with a bad taste in his mouth and batman told him to brush before bed next time. The jist: “Hey, Batman who is standing by my bed, my mouth tastes like shit!” “Brush your teeth sometime, dumbass.”

  51. Mouth — if you’d seen the cartoon or this movie, I don’t think you’d be wondering if it was responsible for a big military recruitment push. Even when I saw this as a young kid I was aware that the actual military did not fight with lasers and forcefields and shit.

    It makes Star Wars look gritty and realistic by comparison.

    Also, you have to keep in mind that this came out right smack-dab in the middle of Reagan-era “by jingo by gee by gosh by gum” rah-rah military fetishization (Top Gun was the #1 movie in America between the premiere of the cartoon and the release of this movie). I’d like to hope that nobody ever wasted time and money surveying whether people enlisted specifically because of this cartoon, so it’s probably an unanswerable question.

  52. Yeah, Manotaur, that’s my position. Griff, among others who seem to grasp some conventional wisdom that I think is completely unfounded, was the one who suggested that the movie/show/toys/literature worked as propaganda & recruitment tool.

    I kinda wish they had; at least, it would be preferable to hear weird stories about young boys & men brainwashed by a cartoon into a uniformed job as adults
    as opposed to
    hearing about young boys turned into old men brainwashed into feeling present-day nostalgia for fantasy nerd bullshit.

  53. Sorry for the derialment, but since G.I. Joe has a certain ’80s aesthetic and what I’ve added below could possibly be the greatest thing ever here I go.

    Here’s the trailer for the upcoming shooter FAR CRY 3 BLOOD DRAGON.


    So what do they do to add to that? Their own action short!


    I know we’ll never get Vern to play some games, but… c’mon!!! Since we can’t get video embeds in the comments hopefully this will be intriguing enough for Vern to create a post and share the awesomeness on the front page!

  54. I´m so hyped for BLOOD DRAGON, I can barely contain myself,especially with neon dragons firing lasers and when the lead character is a Cybercommando named Rex Power Colt AND the ability to flip the finger at your dead enemies everything sounds just great.
    I think they should implement that last detail in every shooter so perhaps people lay off the “teabagging” which is just some tasteless bullshit and not the awesome statement that the finger makes.

  55. BTW, did anybody ever notice that Sgt. Slaughter in G.I. Joe was ripped as fuck but the Sarge in real life was….far from ripped? Not calling ole Sarge fat or out of shape, but he was more bulk than muscle even in his prime.

  56. One of the things I remembered about both this and the Transformers movie was the makers followed the same formula of there being a greater threat than just the regular villains of the series and did not shy away from actually depicting multitudes of characters being killed off to show how bad of a threat they were. It was all the more striking because the tv series never had anyone actually get killed so it significantly raised the stakes for any kid watching them.

  57. Strictly speaking, all of GI Joe is based on a toy, in that the toy came first. But like the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, no matter what format technically came first, the 1980s cartoon was what put it over the top. In the case of GI Joe, though, that process did start with toy commercials. Early-1980s GI Joe toy commercials featured some of the best animation in decades and that led to a demand for more of the same, which led to the series.

    I take issue with the idea that the intro is the only part of the movie that doesn’t look like TV animation. The whole movie is animated better than the regular series, which was itself quite well-drawn to begin with, so that’s saying something. However that intro is especially great.

    The BET is kind of like HAARP.

    The Cobra-La backstory wasn’t popular with fans and it was forgotten as quickly as possible when the series returned in 1989. Still, the passage of time has a way of making what was mediocre in the past seem great by comparison to the present. Even with the Cobra-La element, I’d prefer GI JOE: THE MOVIE to any GI Joe media from the last 30 years.

    There were a few other black guys in GI Joe: Doc, Iceberg, and Stalker come to mind. Of those I think only Doc really appears in this movie, but still.

    It’s so tempting to rope in the comics when faced with an empty space in the cartoon continuity. For example that Hawaiian shirt guy was Chuckles. In this movie, Chuckles comes across as the classic big dumb strong guy, who resorts to throwing a missile because using the control panel proves too complicated for him. In the comics he’s a sinister, manipulative intelligence operative with a paranoid, anti-authority attitude. If you split the difference between the two portrayals, you’d have a pretty good character. But fans shouldn’t really solve problems from one continuity by dragging in information from another continuity. That’s cheating. That information doesn’t count.

    JD: I remember that storyline. It started in GI JOE: SPECIAL MISSIONS and then continued in the regular comic. The Joe who escaped was Outback, and even though he was explicitly ordered to escape by Stalker, the mission leader, so that he could get word out about the ones who were captured, the other Joes back at the base still hated him for leaving his team. Maybe Larry Hama was going for a heroic thing for Outback, showing how he was strong enough to do the right thing even when it wasn’t the thing that felt right, but it made the rest of the Joes look evil.

    RBatty: Cobra Commander didn’t start out as a cobra, but in GI JOE: THE MOVIE he’s turned into a snake. In the subsequent 1989 TV series he’s able to get back to humanoid form, though still reptoid. This is promptly ignored when he’s drawn in his new armour, through which you can see the flesh around his eyes is human-coloured, just as the pre-movie Cobra Commander had human-coloured flesh around his eyes visible through his cloth mask, even though if the movie is to be believed it should have been a pale blue.

    Marlow: Raptor did have an image problem and wasn’t taken seriously by Cobra Commander, but he had actual abilities. In addition to his rapport with his birds, he was a talented accountant, and once used that to figure out where GI Joe was based on their paycheques. A crooked businessman like Cobra Commander should have been able to appreciate that.

    Charles: No, I can’t make out your avatar.

    RRA: Sergeant Slaughter was never as fit in IRL as he was in the cartoon, but that’s OK; William “The Refrigerator” Perry wasn’t as fit as his action figure. The only time it really came up was in the 1988 season when they had a live-action Sgt. Slaughter introducing the episodes, thereby showing us the actual Slaughter followed immediately by his animated counterpart. The real-life Sgt. Slaughter has slimmed down considerably in recent years though.

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