The inevitable follow-up to last year's G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra have procured the talents of Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick, the scribes behind the recent hit, Zombieland. Did Storm Shadow survive? Will Scarlett hook-up with Duke or Ripcord? Will we ever find the identity of Destro's tailor? These are all questions that burn in the minds of eager fans. (Somewhere, surely.)
In a recent interview with MTV, the duo revealed as much details about their plans for the upcoming effort as they could. (Within legal bounds, anyway.)
“We’re excited,” explained Wernick. “Rhett was such a huge ‘G.I. Joe’ fan growing up, as was I." Adding: “We can say that we will be faithful to the first film,” Reese explained of their plans for the sequel. “We will not be ignoring events from the first in the second.”
I think it's safe to say that, while it was a mega-hit with a world-wide gross of over $300 million, The Rise of Cobra was not exactly met with high universal praise. Personally, as an old-school "A Real American Hero" fan, it was kind of a mixed bag. On one hand, I went into it with a set of realistic expectations about how it would be adapted in its overtly-modernized style, and of course, the "accelerator suits." For what it's worth, it was a solid action film with great stunts, worthy of the movie ticket that I purchased. On the other hand, it seems like they actually went out of their way to butcher the G.I. Joe mythos in favor of derivative storyline devices. ("Brainwashed Baroness?" Really?!) I wasn't expecting a purist's wet dream, but I still feel like there was NO effort to meet loyal fans even half-way. Larry Hama's original G.I. Joe comic series was a treasure-trove of deep, realistic story ideas that unfortunately went untapped.
So, in what camp do Reese and Wernick fall? Surely it would affect what we'd get to see on that big screen.
They seem to make it abundantly clear that they are old-school fans, who enjoyed the ARAH line. In fact, Reese even recalls his very first film as a little project starring his G.I. Joe collection when he was 9 years-old. However, the duo will be walking into a proper sequel to the 2009 film, so there seems to be little elbow room for reinvention. What will they be bringing to the table?
“It’s hard to think of it being any bigger; that was a big movie,” Reese said of any pressure to top the first film’s massive action sequences. “They blew up a lot of stuff. We hope for it to be as fun, that the characters really pop. We’ll be introducing some new characters.”
As they further discuss their inspiration, the duo dropped some plans about an upcoming visit to Hasbro headquarters. To fans of their Star Wars, Transformers, and Marvel action figure lines, such a trip would be like finding the golden ticket to visit Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory. (Except the Oompa-Loompas are armed with lightsabers and transform into giant adamantium-plated crabs. Plus, they don't sing, they just hurt.)
“We’re going out to Pawtucket, Rhode Island to the Hasbro headquarters next week,” Wernick said, explaining that the trip will help dictate who those new characters will be. "[We’ll] talk to the toy guys, take a tour of the facility, see all the old toys, the new toys and just get inspired.”
“We’re going to be open to what they have, and we’re presenting them with what we have; it will be a meeting of the minds,” Reese said of the early stage in their script development. “This is a dream come true. If I could get in a time machine and go tell my 11-year-old self this he’d be dancing, running through the street doing cartwheels… ‘G.I. Joe’ should be fun, it should be a ride. That’s what we feel like ‘Zombieland’ was, and we hope to bring that to the ‘G.I. Joe’ franchise also.”
It should come as no surprise that what we see in the films are subject to the approval of Hasbro Toys, as the viability of the characters/vehicles becoming toys weigh hugely in the decision. One thing is for sure, there is no lack of enthusiasm from this writing team. Perhaps, this aspect of the process may be the platform they'll use to inject a bit of old-school into this extremely stylized series.
It will be hard to imagine how else they pick up the pieces left in the aftermath of pretty much EVERYTHING blowing up across all continents in the last film. However, these guys seem to have their hearts set in the right place. For now, the film is pretty far from realization.