So I’ve already brought you the Ten Things I Didn’t Like about G.I. Joe: Resolute, so I figured I’d bring the other side of the story. Let’s face it, we all know Resolute wasn’t the perfect G.I. Joe Nirvana…it had some faults, but taken as a whole, it was still an hour of bad ass G.I. Joe action and the most “cutting edge” the Joe property has been in a long time. Well, I guess that’s arguable. Does gunfire and deaths translate to “cutting edge”? No, not really, but for the first time I sat down and watched a G.I. Joe animated feature without resolving the fact that it was made for kids in the back of my head at least three dozen times. Most importantly, it was entertaining. To date, I’ve watched this 60 minute feature twice all the way through, beginning to end, and of course, the third time broken up into chunks during the normal air date. As I’ve done all this, I’ve contemplated the top ten things I absolutely loved about G.I. Joe: Resolute. Without further adeu:
10: Moscow? What Moscow?
No, not because it was the capital of communism back in the 80’s…no, not because I harbor some ill will or bitter resentment over the former Soviet Union. It was just almost stunning to see an entire city of ten million people essentially wiped off the face of the Earth, especially in a Joe cartoon. It firmly established COBRA and COBRA Commander as the nasty sociopaths that they are, and gave him a vibe that we certainly haven’t seen before. The fact that it happened in the first 10 minutes only went to set the tone of the entire series.
9: The Duke/Scarlett/Snake Eyes triangle
Yeah, I’m a comic fan, and I wasn’t into the whole Scarlett choosing Duke over Snake Eyes thing, but I love the idea that they at least tackled the issue and worked it into the story. Sure, the moment was cheesy, and as a comic fan, I would have rather she give Snake Eyes some humanity, but if nothing else, totally detaching the Joe Commando from an emotional bond almost makes him more scary and more intense. He’s essentially a black-clad killing machine, and not much more. That shines him in a negative light from a character depth perspective, but probably makes him “cooler” to the uninitiated, and to the mass public at large, Snake Eyes has always been the “coolest” Joe, so this makes sense.
8: The first ten minutes
While I do enjoy the full run of the series as a whole, the first ten minutes absolutely pulled me in. From the dramatic opening of a dead Major Bludd on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial to the USS Flagg erupting in flames, and ending with Snake Eyes brutally removing four COBRA Troopers from this plane of existence, Resolute set a tone early. The Duke, Scarlett, and Snake Eyes conflict showed up, Snake Eyes showed his bad ass ninja side, and poor Bazooka turned up dead. A roller coaster for the first ten minutes, and from that moment on, I knew this was going to be a great ride.
7: For the first time in twenty-five years, Duke is cool
Yeah, I never thought I’d say it either. For sixty minutes, at least, Duke was a bad ass. Actually, I’m one of the few comic fans I know that has never had any deep-rooted grudge for the G.I. Joe “pretty boy”, but I’d never had any particular love for him either. He was just kind of there. In Resolute, he’s consistently there, getting his mits in pretty much every angle of the story, and I found myself not even being the least bit bothered by it. He looks cool, he had a great attitude, a terrific voice actor, and for once, really captured the true trademark “action hero” in a way that I’m not even sure the film will be able to match. Not sure how Warren Ellis did it, but he did it.
6: Bad guys are BAD GUYS.
Hey, I’m as big a fan of Larry Hama as anyone, but you can’t argue that throughout the years, the bad guys have been somewhat watered down. Characters like Destro, the Baroness, Storm Shadow, and Zartan were developed so deeply that the reader ended up empathizing with them and they slowly became good guys to the point where COBRA Commander has to resort to brainwashing to restock his command structure because all of the most important and all of the coolest “evil” villains became good and honorable. We don’t have to worry about that with G.I. Joe: Resolute as all of the COBRA bad guys are definitely “bad guys”. Destro and the Baroness are intent on killing hostages, Zartan is a self-described masochist, and Storm Shadow has absolutely no “honorable” side to him in this installment. They’re big, they’re dark, they’re mean, and there’s nothing else to it. In a way that’s refreshing, even if it means they don’t get explored nearly as deeply in a character aspect.
5: Resolving the Storm Shadow vs. Snake Eyes conflict
Back in the Marvel Comics days, the Snake Eyes and Storm Shadow saga ran for a long time, but it was a well-written tale that had a clear beginning, middle, and end, and was one of the best story arcs I’ve read in comics. Since then, though, the essence of the Storm Shadow and Snake Eyes conflict has been lost completely. The two have clashed throughout recent iterations of G.I. Joe, with no real motivation or mission, just some ambigious battle for the “honor” of the Arashikage Clan. This was never worse than it was during Sigma 6, where the two met probably a dozen times over two seasons, yet never resolved anything. Well, nothing to worry about with that here. While Warren Ellis obviously took liberties with the story, he tied Snake Eyes and Storm Shadow together as the sword brothers they’ve been, injected Zartan into the mix, and brought their conflict up a big notch, culminating in Snake Eyes using a mythical Arashikage technique and literally blowing Storm Shadow’s brains out. Graphic yes. Straight outta “Kill Bill”, for sure. But hey, at least it tied up all loose ends, and that last fight between the two ninjas was pretty awesome.
4: The cast of characters
It’s obvious just from the cast of characters that this was a feature made for the fans. We get Roadblock instead of Heavy Duty, Beachhead and Stalker team up for a little Ranger-infiltration, and the fan favorite Joe characters are all in full form. Flint, Gung Ho, Spirit and Airborne all make appearances (though some are just barely there). Sure, Ripcord has had a race change, and Dial Tone shaved his…er… her moustache, but all in all, this is a cast the fans can love. Even though he bares little resemblance to “our” Ripcord, the character of Ripcord is well-used and well written in this series and even though Flint doesn’t get in the middle of the action, he’s a focal character. Seeing Roadblock and Gung Ho team up while Stalker and Beachhead are infiltrating the HAARP installation was a highlight especially.
COBRA has it’s own share of vile villainy, managing to find places for Firefly, Major Bludd, Storm Shadow, Zartan, the Baroness, and Destro, even though some of these villains barely get any worthwhile screen time. All around, there were a lot of familiar faces shoe-horned into a 60 minute production, and even if they didn’t all get their due, it was nice to see them in there in the first place.
3: COBRA Commander
Not only did COBRA Commander not utter his infamous “COBRA RETREEAAAAT!!” phrase, but he was a veritable psychopath and brutal leader of the terrorist organization. I never really understood why it was so difficult to capture COBRA Commander’s character…simply make him a nasty, violent, but brilliant dictator type, and go from there. I’m not necessarily sold on his final goal, which appeared to simply be to make a bunch of money, but at least he had a concrete goal above and beyond simply conquering the world. The voice actor did a fantastic job and the overall design scheme was pretty much flawless. A great version of COBRA Commander, certainly one of the best animated renditions of the infamous character that we’ve seen yet.
2: The overall look of the characters
Without a doubt the biggest complaint I’ve heard from Joe fans about the upcoming movie is the “look” of the characters. Without much resemblance, there is a feeling that this isn’t really a “G.I. Joe” property, it’s just a facade. I don’t necessarily follow that mantra, but when it comes to Resolute it doesn’t matter, because Hasbro and Titmouse hit everything pretty much perfectly. The characters are all very familiar to long time Joe fans and mainstream folks are aren’t intimately involved in the brand as a whole. Yet they also manage to make all of the designs more modern and make everything their own, yet they retain all of the critical components of each character. Duke manages to wear his tan and green without looking rediculous… Snake Eyes had enough nice updates to his uniform to really make him stand out and look cool, but takes absolutely nothing away from the design itself. COBRA Commander has perfect updates…and Destro? Please. This look for Destro was pretty much the definitive version of Destro in my own little personal universe.
I’m a huge Sigma 6 fan, and while folks may debate this, I think there are some really obvious Sigma 6 style trademarks in this series, and I endorse that totally. This was the perfect blend of Sigma’s animated style, the Real American Hero mythos, and a more mature story. The way the characters look had a huge thing to do with this. Even those characters that were essentially toss-ins had a great look. Zartan and Firefly were both awesome, even in their small roles. Hell, Bludd was dead before the series started, and a quick glimpse at him on Scarlett’s PDA looked pretty damn cool itself.
1: They made it cool to love Snake Eyes again
Well many mainstream fans really identify Snake Eyes as the core character within G.I. Joe (alongside Duke) I would say that the majority of fans had gotten pretty tired of him. From the overblown ninja antics, to his ties to pretty much every member of the COBRA hierarchy, many would say Snake Eyes had become way too much a part of the property. Well, the animation, the character design, and the way he was written has pretty much redefined Snake Eyes in my mind, and once again made him cool. We have countless versions of this one character, yet most fans are clamoring for his Resolute version, and even with Snake Eyes over-exposure, his scenes were some of the coolest ones in the entire series. Seamlessly hacking COBRA agents with his katana as he glides between the shadows, Snake Eyes has regained the throne as the bad ass of the G.I. Joe universe. In Resolute, he ROCKED.
You know, of course nothing is going to be perfect, and like anything else, Resolute has it’s faults. But above and beyond all that, it was an amazingly entertaining 60 minutes of animated adventure that happened to feature characters from my favorite toyline. A great combination. They got a brilliant writer, a fantastic director, animation studio, some amazing artists, and a wealth of quality voice talent, and managed to bring it all together into a really fun feature. Great job on this one, Hasbro.
Now give us our toys, damn it.