G.I. Joe has been a popular toy since the 1960s, but the action figure line became something entirely different in the 1980s when the toys were joined by a cartoon series and comic book tie-ins that introduced countless new characters. One of the most popular was Snake Eyes, a mysterious martial artist who dressed all in black and never spoke. The character has appeared on the big screen before, but he's about to take center stage as the first G.I. Joe movie to focus on a specific character will be all about the man with the codename Snake Eyes.
There's a lot we still don't know about the Snake Eyes movie, beyond the fact that it will star Henry Golding in the title roll, but even without a lot of details, it's easy to see why this was chosen as the path for the film franchise to take, and why Snake Eyes was the right character to start with.
Snake Eyes Was Incredibly Popular With Kids
First and foremost, the simplest reason Snake Eyes is the right place to start is that he's probably the single most popular character within the G.I. Joe franchise. The main audience for a G.I.Joe movie is going to those that were fans of the title from the 80s, and those that discovered it since, and that was when Snake Eyes really took hold as a character. Reminding that audience why they liked G.I. Joe is the best path to box office success, and that means reminding them of Snake Eyes.
Whether it was the character's unique place among the more military focused G.I. Joes, or simply the fact that kids like ninjas, Snake Eyes has better name recognition than any other member of the team. As one of those kids who grew up watching G.I. Joe in the '80s, I'm certainly more interested in a Snake Eyes film than I am a Duke or Flint movie.
A Snake Eyes Movie Will Be A Needed Break From The Previous Films
It's been seven years since we last had a G.I. Joe movie and, while Snake Eyes will --as far as we know-- take place within the same continuity as The Rise of Cobra and Retaliation, it seems quite likely that this new movie is looking to stand on its own, it doesn't even have G.I. Joe anywhere in the title, at least at the moment. Both of those previous films did reasonably well at the box office, but neither was really considered "good" by most definitions of the term. A movie based on Snake Eyes, the most un-military sort of character, will put the movie at a useful distance from the previous films, allowing it to be its own film.
A movie focused on Snake Eyes as a character means, quite bluntly, that the film probably won't feel like a G.I. Joe movie in the way that we think of it, and that's actually a good thing here. Action will be more of the martial arts variety and less of the military variety. And if the Snake Eyes movie works, you can reintroduce this new version of the character into a more traditional G.I. Joe movie, and fans will go along with it. You can even soft reboot the entire franchise that way if that's the decision the filmmakers want to make. Either way, the baggage of a couple of mediocre movies will hang less on a Snake Eyes movie than any other. A movie based on pretty much any other G.I. Joe character will instantly feel like more of a sequel to the other movies, and that's not useful right now.
Snake Eyes Has The Best Nemesis
It has been said that the best comic book movies achieve that status because of great villains, and Snake Eyes did make his first media appearance in a comic book, so I suppose this is technically a comic book movie. However you look at it, Snake Eyes is going to need an adversary to battle against, and he has one ready made in Storm Shadow.
There are any number of great villains in the roster of Cobra, but in the same way that Snake Eyes is a unique character among G.I. Joe, Storm Shadow stands out within Cobra. Few other G.I. Joe characters have a direct archenemy the way that Snake Eyes and Storm Shadow are. It's a pairing that fans will not only be expecting, but excited to see. Although, we understand the new movie will also include The Baroness as well.
Henry Golding Is Becoming a Huge Star
It's fun to actually watch a great actor's star rise in the public consciousness. We see him in a small role or perhaps a big role in a small movie, and enough people take notice that he starts to get cast in bigger and bigger projects. Eventually, the actor that few people were familiar with not all that long ago, is now somebody who is a household name. It feels like Henry Golding (Crazy Rich Asians, Last Christmas) is on that path right now.
Snake Eyes is the best role in the G.I. Joe roster to give Henry Golding, and he's an actor that a franchise looking to relaunch itself is going to want to lock down. Golding has even had his name mentioned by some as a potential future James Bond. Wherever Golding's career takes him, it's going to be big, and so his growing star power can only help a Snake Eyes movie, and by association, potentially help relaunch the larger G.I. Joe franchise, the same way a ready for stardom Robert Downey Jr. helped build the MCU.
If you were a kid in the 1980s then you were probably as big a fan of G.I. Joe as you were the Transformers, and yet, one of those franchises has made multiple billion dollar blockbusters, and the other... has not. G.I. Joe needs a bit of help. It needs a relaunch that feels fresh and unique, but still includes all the things fans loved about the franchise when it was new. A spinoff film is a great way to do just that, and a Snake Eyes movie is the best way to launch a spinoff. I can't really think of a reason why this wouldn't work. Well, maybe there's one. Who's going to say "Yo Joe?"