There’s a Catch-22 at play when you hire someone as handsome and charismatic as Henry Golding to play Snake Eyes in a new G.I. Joe movie. The studio is paying for this globally recognized actor, and then covering his face entirely with the mask that is the signature headpiece of the classic Hasbro ninja. Because Golding is stepping into the role of Snake Eyes in the aptly titled Snake Eyes: G.I. Joe Origins, this is his first dance with the mask, and how best to act through it. When speaking to CinemaBlend about the pros and cons, he had plenty to say… while also thinking ahead to how they might handle the mask in Snake Eyes sequels. Listen to a snippet of our conversation above.

Snake Eyes isn’t one of those characters you can cheat with when it comes to his mask. It looks the way that it looks, and if you mess with it, you risk the chance of alienating the die-hard G.I. Joe fans whom you want to come out and support your story. The bulk of Snake Eyes: G.I. Joe Origins is spent watching Snake Eyes (Henry Golding) train, climbing the ranks of the Arashikage clan and forging a bond with Tommy (Andrew Koji), a “brother” who will one day become a rival. Only later in the film does Golding assume the Snake Eyes persona and the costume that comes with it, and when it came to that garb, the actor told CinemaBlend:

To be honest with you, the mask is so iconic. And I personally want to put it on as much as possible, because I feel like a badass whilst I’m wearing it.

But once Henry Golding has become Snake Eyes fully in the franchise, is it necessary for the actor to keep wearing the mask for the duration of upcoming sequels? If the actor’s face is hidden, a movie could get away with hiring (less expensive) stunt doubles. But that takes away from the impact of Golding’s potential performance. There’s an emotional core to the story being told in Snake Eyes, particularly as it pertains to the rivalry between the main character and Storm Shadow (Koji). Taking the tools away from Golding that he uses to sell that relationship could be detrimental.

Snake Eyes with the mask on

Or, as Henry Golding went on to explain to CinemaBlend:

I think there’s a time and a place. You don’t walk around in your war armor all of the time. I think you go in, especially if you’re an agent, especially if you’re trying to infiltrate. And I think that’s something that we’ve been lacking in the story books, and the comics and things. This world of espionage and G.I. Joes versus Cobra, there’s so many moving mechanics. So to be able to play on those outfits, and to play on those characteristic looks, I think, is really important.

Henry Golding brings up a good point. This is a side of Snake Eyes that we have not seen in the G.I. Joe stories to date (especially on the big screen). But just because we haven’t seen Snake removing his helmet in between missions, or even relying on his real face to potentially go undercover, doesn’t mean it can’t happen. Golding also reassures fans that if they play around with the mask moving forward, nothing will ever remove the mask permanently. He said:

They will always exist, and there will be a time and a place. But I truly believe that you have to use those types of armors and helmets in the most appropriate times. He can’t be, like, walking around and trying to sneak through some places looking as if he shouldn’t be there! (laughs) Perhaps maybe he’s in disguise in some respects. But then, the visor comes on. Let’s go! Action!

It would be a balance, but one that the franchise certainly could pull off. In a way, it’d be a little bit like Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) and the face-covering Iron Man suit. Or even Marvel’s Spider-Man, who fights several battles with a mask, but removes it when need be. I wonder if Joe fans will have more problems with Snake Eyes speaking, if he eventually does? That’s a discussion for a different day.

For now, Henry Golding can be seen in Snake Eyes when it reaches theaters this Friday, July 23.

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