With the G.I. Joe movie in-production as you read this, the hype is gearing-up.
USA Today released a first-look at Snake Eyes last weekend (USA Today has more pop-ups than one of those pop-up kids' books, so I hate linking to them - just be aware, you may have to sift through dozens of pop-ups and wait for like 20 seconds for full-screen ads to present, etc. - completely spammy) and the article stated that the movie is going to focus on the origins of the team and the characters.
Originally a Hasbro toy line of generic 12" "army men" in the 1960s, G.I. Joe was relaunched in the 1980s, along the lines of the Star Wars action figures which were so popular then. The figures were individualized and the franchise spawned a popular comic book title (Marvel) and after-school cartoon (Yo, Joe!). Larry Hama wrote the series for years and became synonymous with the franchise. In fact, he recently stated in a CBG interview that the little dossiers which appeared on the backs of the figures' packages were taken directly from his own notes for the comic. Many of the characters were based on actual veterans and/or people Hama knew and he, himself, was even made into an action figure (Fletch Adams).
G.I. Joe became one of the longest-running comics titles in history, lasting 155 issues and spawning several one-shots and a spin-off series. It cemented its place in mainstream Comicdom with the famous "silent issue," (#21) featuring the mute ninja himself. There is even an annual JoeCon, celebrating all things G.I. Joe!
Hama returned to the Devil's Due imprint of the revived title for a run in 2006 and recently took over the scripting duties full-time. The movie, set for a 2009 release, features a bevy of talent, including Christopher Eccleston (Destro), Marlon Wayans (Ripcord), Dennis Quaid (Hawk), Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and more. One of the few lines of toys aimed at boys that featured female characters and figures, G.I. Joe has always appealed to a wide audience and the movie's director says it will have something for everyone.
G.I. Joe is a true piece of Americana which breaks the mold: originally generic "army men" for little boys to play war with, a comic book writer almost single-handedly imbued it with a depth which propelled it into a multimedia franchise that became an integral part of 1980s' pop-culture, alongside the Smurfs and Transformers (also recently revived and made into a box-office-breaking live-action flick). And, depending on the success of the movie, it may become a mainstay of this new generation's pop-culture, as well. At any rate, it has definitely earned a place in American pop-culture history.
And that's The Rundown on G.I. Joe, so now you know.
And knowing is half the battle. Yo Joe!
© C Harris Lynn, 2008