Six reasons why the G.I. Joe: Retaliation delay is not the end of the world

I’m going to try very hard not to be melodramatic, but I will say over the past few days there has been a lot of thinking, analysis, and a lot of talking out the recently revealed issues with the G.I. Joe: Retaliation film.  From a fandom perspective, we were all so geeked out and so fired up about what we saw in the trailers, it was easy for us as a collective group to ignore any potential that the film might not live up to our lofty expectations.

I think we were all so certain this film couldn’t possibly fall below the standard set by G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra, when word started coming out that early screenings revealed some potential issues with the film’s quality, combined with the nine month delay and rumors of product recalls, the sudden chaos brought by all of the combined changes has thrown the fandom for a loop.  There has been quite a bit of discussion, and yes quite a bit of rage out there, and frankly, it’s hard to say it’s not justified.

But I’ve been doing quite a bit of introspection myself over the past couple of days, and as folks have come to expect from the site, I’d like to offer a rosier outlook than many have been discussing (here on GeneralsJoes certainly included).

Yes, the film is being delayed.  Yes, quite a bit of product will not see store shelves in 2012.  But, no this is not the end of the world.  Read on to read my thoughts.

6 – The public has a short attention span

Sure, when it comes to the trials and tribulations of G.I. Joe fans, this Retaliation delay and toy fiasco will leave an indelible mark on our minds.  It will be etched in the annals of history as another one of the big blunders that G.I. Joe fans have had to deal with in the 21st Century.  However, the movie going public at large has many more important things on their mind and likely come March will have forgotten most of this chaos.  They’re not fully invested in the film and in the brand as we are, and when March, 2013 comes up on the calendar, most of them will barely remember what happened.  After all, how many of us remember that such high profile films like Shutter Island and Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince were delayed when they were initially released?

5 – The G.I. Joe brand is resiliant

Really, I couldn’t say it any better than the way Twitter friend Twitziller put it in the following tweet:

“Just about every cool thing hasbro’s done’s been a quiet restart built in the ashes of their last Great Idea.”

It’s so true.  Yes, this is by far the most visible issue that has come G.I. Joe’s way in recent memory, but the brand has survived and indeed thrived through previous roadblocks (pardon the pun).  In 2005, Sigma 6 came rushing in, and while I certainly loved it, I won’t pretend that it didn’t drive away a huge segment of the fandom with the change in scale and style.  Hasbro seemed to think this was their next great renaissance, and that never seemed to happen, but as Sigma 6 faded from public consciousness in 2007, Hasbro quietly pushed out the 25th Anniversary, and many would argue for adult collectors that was modern G.I. Joe’s return to greatness.

Upon the retail catastrophe that was Hasbro’s next “Great Idea” with The Rise of Cobra, Hasbro delayed for many months, then quietly unveiled the Pursuit of Cobra, which then morphed into the 30th Anniversary, and many fans would say these were the finest action figures Hasbro has ever released to retail.  So if the G.I. Joe: Retaliation toys aren’t lighting your fire, and if they aren’t much improved by March when they come out, no reason to panic, have confidence that the Joe design will regroup, recharge, and come out with both barrels firing.  Even if it’s not loud and aggressive and with trailers during the Super Bowl, chances are it will be a great toyline and perhaps even get back to the basics that Joe fans are always wild about.

4 – The Rock is still involved

Yes, the movie has hit a 9 month delay, and all reports from early screenings are that there are some significant issues that need to be worked out.  But when those nine months have passed and the movie is staged to come back out, one of the leading men in the film is still Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, and he still sells tickets.

Yes, there have been complaints that G.I. Joe: Retaliation is not a great film…but is it any worse than something like Journey 2: The Mysterious Island?  That film, currently rated as a middling 42% on Rotten Tomatoes still brought in around $325 million internationally, and a lot of that has got to be based on Dwayne Johnson’s widespread appeal, especially considering the first film only managed to make about $240 million.  The Rock is still CinemaCon’s “Action Star of the Decade” and he still has a legion of fans, and even with some issues with the film, tickets will be sold based on his involvement.

3 – The film may not be as bad as it is being made out to be

Perhaps it is, but I’d wager it isn’t.  The most visible critic of the film screenings was the mysterious “Caller X” who called into KERN Radio with his run down of how the screening looked, and while he certainly had complaints, they seemed to be more like “this film could be improved” types of complaints and not like “this film is the worst one EVAHHH” type of complaints.  Yes, G.I. Joe: Retaliation is firmly in the public eye right now, and there is some very tight scrutiny, so obviously any complaint involving the content of the film is going to be met with outrageous overreaction.  There are certainly issues with it, based on everything we’ve heard, but are they deal breakers?  Nobody can truly judge until they see it for themselves.

Trust me, I’m not saying to ignore the reports and continue thinking the film is awesome, because those would be unrealistic expectations at this point.  But as totally and incredibly awesome as we thought the film could be based on the trailers is so far removed from how bad this “Caller X” seemed to think it was, I think the truth is probably somewhere in the middle.  G.I. Joe: Retaliation is most likely not as flawless and perfect as the fans wanted to believe it was, but I also don’t think it’s the widespread calamity that people are calling it now based on reports from one person’s viewpoint.

2 – They’re still adding 3D

I will say right up front, I don’t really care one way or the other about 3D.  I love seeing a film in iMax, and yeah, the novelty of Avatar was pretty interesting at the time, but I won’t really go out of my way to see a film in 3D.  That being said, 3D is still a very hot ticket, especially overseas, and considering that’s where a lot of money is that Paramount is hoping for, it makes perfect sense to make technical changes to the film to draw more interest from the international market.  And yes, the added ticket sales will only increase box office returns, so while adding 3D is very likely a marketing twist and an excuse for the delay, the fact remains that adding it could add to the box office totals, and could help the film be successful, which means good things for fans of the G.I. Joe brand.

1 – Hasbro and Paramount seem dedicated to improving the film

This is the most important point, at least in my opinion.  Based on the actions of both Hasbro and Paramount, it would certainly appear that they are both extremely committed to improving this film.  Paramount is reportedly footing most of the bill for the film delay, continued marketing, and is spending a lot of their own cash on reconverting the film into 3D, which shows a significant interest in making sure the film is as successful as possible.

According to “Caller X” from KERN Radio, Paramount is also investing a lot of money in reshoots based on reactions to the trailer, and the fact that the delay is nine months shows to me that they are willing to spend time and money to improve the final product.  Granted, Hasbro ends up getting the bad end of this deal almost all the way through as they are forced to ship out retail product that doesn’t mesh with any big media tie in as they had hoped.  As such, Hasbro is taking a huge financial hit on this one, and certainly has the motivation (along with Paramount) to make this endeavor as successful as humanly possible.

So, judging by the time table for releasing the film, and the rumors that are coming out about reshoots, plot changes, and screener feedback, it certainly sounds like they are taking things into their own hands and putting a focused effort in improving the end product.  This is certainly a big monetary investment for them, and it will take a lot of work to get G.I. Joe back to the forefront of people’s minds, but I am at least somewhat encouraged by the fact that they are taking this task on.

Of course, star’s schedules and the film budget will dictate a lot of what can or cannot be done, but with Paramount showing a willingness to dip back into their wallet, they’re now on the hook, and I think will be working a lot harder to make this a better product, which is good for all of us.

So in the end, no the news has not been good over the past few days, and right now the picture is not very rosey.  But I think there are pieces in place that could provide a good foundation for a March release, and even if things don’t quite go our way with this motion picture sequel, G.I. Joe is one of Hasbro’s few in house brands, and it has survived almost 50 years.  There’s no reason to think this event alone will sink the ship, and who knows, perhaps at the end of this storm we may just have a good movie to hang our hat on, or some really great toys following it up.

  • ARROW

    I’m weary.

    I’m just plain tired of the GIJOE brand going from cool, to half-assed, to maybe cool, back to really half-assed again, and again……and again.
    When the brand works, it works great and when it sucks…….well, I’m tired of the suck and there’s been a LOT of suck over the years.

    As much as I love GIJOE, I have…….I think everyone has acknowledge that GIJOE is a niche brand, with a well-known name. Its not the 1980′s anymore. Those times are gone……..they will NEVER come again.
    The interest just isn’t there for the brand, on both sides, retailers and consumers. GIJOE has a small number of people interested in it–even to be called dedicated–and the rest…….well, Hasbro is caught up in the conundrum of thinking the 80′s can come again and trying to sell this toy-line to an indifferent mass-consumer population.

    As for the movie……feelings aside…we have a unprecedented situation here……..I cannot recall any other film being pulled this close to release for re-tooling before. This is uncharted waters here……is the film good or bad? No way to tell without seeing it. The news about re-shoots and additions is not good, because a film that works, doesn’t need those things.
    This film DOES NOT WORK, at this stage.
    But can it be fixed? |
    Only those who are hands-on could say.

    Can it be repaired to the point of working very well??
    Well, that depends on what it wrong with it.

    Example: there’s a critique that Roadblock mentions his kids, in a line near the start of the movie…….and then nothing is mentioned of them for the rest of the story. Two fixes possible: either add a scene or two later on in the story addressing his attention to the kids–to satisfy that aspect of the character–or just excise/edit out the line altogether so there’s no further need to address it in continuity. The edit is cheaper, but if the inclusion serves the character more, it might be worth the cost of add scenes addressing it in some way.

    Story is king, and if the story isn’t being served, then stuff has to be looked at harshly. Its the “Biggs Darklighter” conundrum-if it slows the pace, cut it out–even if a bit of audience rapport gets cut out with it.

    But seriously……..I don’t care as much anymore. There’s been a steady slew of “bad news” regarding the GIJOE brand for the past several months and I’m tired of my emotions being kicked to the curb time and again. I’ve sworn off more of the Retaliation toys….I’m hugely indifferent about the Club offerings and travails……and the movie…. I no longer care to see it, in ANY form.
    I have no positive expectations left for it at all, and my interest level is hovering lower than it ever has before.

  • Gyre-Viper

    Hasbro isn’t paying you enough. I jest. I jest. I would say that most people’s concern is the toys. I’m not concerned about the film because it can only go three ways: win, lose, or draw. If it draws… it’s basically another ROC. If it wins then I don’t think anyone will know what to expect. We can try and draw conclusions to Transformers but that franchise has spiraled out of control and confuses the hell out of me in both theaters and on shelves. If it loses… if it loses Sir Justin… if this thing performs at or less than expected had it been released on time (well, with this film what’s on time really considering it was pulled forward and then slingshot into a post-Mayan calendar world)… if this thing makes Battleship look like Avatar… then I’d say maybe it’s time to worry cuz I’d think it would be a while before they’d try another Joe film. But who knows with Hollywood… sometimes all it takes is making the money back on dvd to get something green lit. I still think the trailers suggest a better film than ROC. I think it still looks fun. I hope that reshooting things or adding things isn’t done just because they can and think they should. I hope that whatever they reshoot or add actually ADDS something and not simply replaces something else. But back to the toys… and you said this on the WOJM special emergency deth of the line edition… Hasbro would do well to remember that toys got it here… not Hollywood. I understand that in this day in age, unless your toy is pure gimmick and function (ie Beyblade), you need a media tie-in. I get that we need SOMETHING for kids and the non-collecting public to latch onto. I’m actually surprised they didn’t just base it on the comics like all the other smart films that have comic roots. And maybe that was their first mistake. If they’d tried to base it on the comics it might have limited certain things but at least the tie-in exists and has existed forever. But as you said Hasbro needs to remember what got it here. And I don’t mean Hasbro the design team… I mean the Hasbro/Paramount hybrids who make those calls. Who decide what should represent the brand to the world off the shelves. Killing Renegades was silly. Hey let’s cancel the cartoon before we launch a film. Okay look where that got them. Let’s postpone the 30th for the film cuz now the film has been moved up. Okay look where that got them. Let’s postpone the FILM now AND the toys to an extent… need I continue. I don’t think Hasbro is to blame for the film. Maybe they should have had more eyes on it I dunno… depends if the film is actually as bad as calller x etc says. It’s all speculation but I don’t think Hasbro is to blame. Always blame the bigger animal with the majority of the money and stake and say-so… the animal in this scenario is Paramount. Who apparently thought GI JOE should be part of it’s 101st year celebration. And maybe that’s a good way to bring in the next 100 years of Paramount. Who knows. But the stuff that has now fallen on Hasbro’s lap whether of their own design or not… and what I think is fueling a lot of the anger and disappointment is everything that was put on hold for this film or basically euthanized for this film that is now itself put on hold. Hiatus will always probably be part of the unique and worst-case-scenario-cursed aspects of GI JOE. Yes we’ve survived a LOT since the 80′s… but this brand used to force others to have to survive. GI JOE went from game changer to ever changing and while I don’t think fans have all the answers, it is obvious neither does Hasbro nor Paramount. Something needs to click. Just because Joe survives so much doesn’t mean it has to always be trying to. It’s a testament to its endurance and that’s fine but other enduring things have finally dissolved over time. GI JOE is very lucky that Hasbro has kept it close to home and close to its heart as part of Hasbro’s roots. When I see people say ‘Hasbro sucks’ or ‘Hasbro doesn’t treat me right as a fan’ I laugh because if Hasbro wasn’t treating fans right I wouldn’t be staring at 30th Anniversary Sci-Fi and marveling at its amazing execution. For me it’s the toys… Avengers was great but the toys were just sub par. I’ve read Marvel comics forever but I do not like the toys one bit. Batman holds a special place in my heart but I don’t own a single Batman toy. I want a successful GI JOE film and a successful GI JOE cartoon and I think both are important but I think the toys (and even sometimes the comics) are what GI JOE is at the core and I think they might be doing certain things in the wrong order. I’m not sure. The collectors can be rough and contradictory even on a good day with product that gets a GeneralsJoes.com 5 star rating. Rarely does the hobby take responsibility for things and sometimes certain things are our fault. But that’s not to say there aren’t (obviously) decisions being made somewhere in Hasbro and now in Hollywood that really complicate things or fog things up to where even we don’t understand where they are coming from. What people really do need to do is take a step back and realize that what’s important isn’t so much having something to say but saying something that can actually be heard. I haven’t read any of the 100 threads on the topic that have popped up because they’re all reactionary. There’s a difference between wanting to be heard and just …exploding. JoeCon should answer some questions. And the film come March could be great for what it is. But if it isn’t… if 3D and new scenes and whatever else just… doesn’t do… optimism might not pull us out of that. Then again… maybe what GI JOE needs is something even more distressing than what happened after ROC. I dunno. So I suppose in summary… I agree with you until POSSIBLY March. HAHAHAHA.

  • LBAM

    I want to hope that this will make the film better, I do. However, comparisons to Shutter Island and Harry Potter are far, far out of reach. This movie isn’t directed by Scorcese. It isn’t based on one of the most successful novel series in the history OF the novel. A G.I. Joe film simply isn’t in that kind of company. And neither of those movies were delayed SO far, so close to their initial release date.

  • Anonymous

    If these reshoots help Retaliation to be a better movie and bring in a wider audience, then I’m all for it. I waiting for the day when kids know Cobra Commander and Duke as well as Optimus Prime and Megatron.

  • Joe

    Well said, both of you guys (Arrow and Gyre-Viper). You both articulate very well the core of the problem, and better said anything I can say on this topic. I will keep my trap shut on this subject from now on. Here’s hoping for some good news in the near-future (that has nothing to do with this silly movie).

  • Anonymous

    Please don’t think that I am, in any way, comparing Retaliation to Harry Potter or Shutter Island as a film. I’m talking purely from the standpoint of being delayed and whether or not the public remembers it, and not making any comparisons to the quality of the film itself.

    When I read an article about films that were delayed, I was surprised to see those two films on there, and had totally forgotten about those delays, as I believe most of the public will, too.

    I don’t pretend to think that Retaliation will be anywhere close to those in quality, though, and wouldn’t have assumed that even before these latest reviews emerged.

  • ARROW

    Joe-
    Its easy to fall into the death-spiral of doom-saying and brand-bashing. And by contrast, its just as easy to hold one’s nose and deny it all.
    And either stance is okay.
    I unabashedly love GIJOE toys. Other things GIJOE tend to be an ongoing acquired taste with me, but the toys I tend to love many of them with out reservation. I liked ROC, it works okay as a movie for me, and as a GIJOE adventure. There’s enough “familiarity” there to work for me.
    But the more I’m hearing, reading about Retaliation……

    I want to be wrong, I want to be DEAD wrong in my feelings about the whole thing. This so I can actually go see the movie and sit there and enjoy it fresh like a lot of other people. I want my pessimism to be totally unjustified, I want my theories to completely wash out.
    I want it to be so fantastic that fans quietly redub the title: ” GIJOE: Redemption”.

    But I tellya, I’m afraid.
    I’m really afraid that my now-founded cynicism and dread about the movie is RIGHT. :-(

  • Guest

    Over it already, lets all just get on with our lives. I agree with Justin GI-Joe will be back, and this is all probably for the best.

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  • Ryan( Mapleleaf ) Hildebrand

    After having the past couple of days to think about it and have cooled down a bit. ( I don’t know if you heard my voice message comment I left on What’s on Joe mind Justin about the Zombie vipers coming away hungry cause they had no brains but I was a little upset.) It might be better in the long run. Maybe we’ll see improved articulation again in all figures, maybe the story will come out stronger. There are a lot of positives that might come out of this. And the bright side for me is that when the pre-orders come around again I’ll have the cash to get the stuff when its ready. So we just drool over the old trailers and move on. Maybe the version that was to be would be a feature for the Blue-ray so we can see it.

  • LBAM

    Fair enough. I know you’re trying to be adult and upbeat about all of this, and that is certainly a change from most of the unhinged and ridiculous NERD RAGE out there, and I appreciate that. I still don’t know how this long of a delay, this late in the game, can have come about unless Paramount execs looked at a cut of the film and said “Sweet Fancy Moses, what did we spend $125 million on?”

    That being said, it’s entirely possible that Chu and co. might have made a film WE would love that suits at Paramount wouldn’t get, and wouldn’t connect with a wider audience. But…who knows. March will tell, I guess.

  • Anonymous

    Yeah, I do agree with you there, and for the most part, I am still feeling very discouraged about the whole thing, but I’m also trying to look at it from a different angle and find a way that it’s not all doom and gloom.

    In the end, none of us will be able to make an informed decision about this film until approximately March 30, 2013.

    For the record, I think there probably are some fandom-heavy elements here that perhaps the general public doesn’t understand and might not appreciate the same way as the fans would, and that could be some of the problems. The fans rally and shout and scream that they should make movies for US, but in some cases, if they cater too much to us, they end up alienating the other 93% of people who would see the film, which doesn’t serve anyone.

    I’d rather be mildly annoyed for 2 hours, but see the brand survive for the next several years rather than be in euphoria for 2 hours, but not having the public at large understand what the hell is going on and the film flops.

  • FeloniousMonk

    Sorry to disappoint, but from all the whispering I was hearing leading up to the release postponement, and the stuff I heard regarding the incoherency of the final cut, this film would’ve been generally panned as an absolute mess.

    “…unless Paramount execs looked at a cut of the film and said ‘Sweet Fancy Moses, what did we spend $125 million on?’” Unfortunately, this is kinda what happened…except Paramount said this a few couple of months ago and tried to salvage it in time to meet the release date, to no avail.

  • http://twitter.com/lalapoop123 lalapoop

    I was done with this film anyways the Moment they Killed Duke. I dont give a hell who is playing him. They Gave Duke an character arc in the first film to kill him off 10 minutes in the second film. I mean wtf. Let alone cheap ass way off screen. They dont even mention what happen to other characters of the first. Im with the minority who liked the 1st. I took it for what it was.

  • Dusty Ayers

    I think they easily could have done the first Joe movie by following the major plot elements of he comic. You could have gotten a trilogy out of that alone although I know that Hollywood likes to make things different. If you wanted to move Joe forward you could have taken the second film in the direction of the 30th figs or possibly Renegades.

  • Dusty Ayers

    Your #5 makes a lot of sense. The 30th/Renegades line saw the best Joe action figures ever and I would say THE best action figure on the market. The articulation was top notch and the accessories were fantastic.

  • Shock Viper

    I was really wondering why Hasbro has not made even a mini Series or one shot animated movie or comics based on the POC design. This line sells on its own, Hasbro should have made even a mini movie (ala Resolute) based on the POC design, hell even the movie might have a better reception if Tatum looks like jungle Duke.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1798548635 Aaron F. West

    That’s what I believe is the case. Look up directors by name on IMDB.Com and most of them have a project to work on for 2013. Mr. Jon Chu? His career has appeared to stop at 2012.

  • Zedhatch

    To me, the delay is just this: It’s a movie and it will get out one way or another. If it’s bad, so be it. If it’s good all the better. But seriously I’m not going to get worked up about it, there is plenty of other stuff to worry about.

  • alvarobm

    Wow…few hours away from the net, and look what happens! :p

    I have no great expectations on this movie since it was announced. Last days news only point to an undeniable direction: the movie is awful, Paramount is afraid to put her chips on it, so call the “delay resource” and try to improve the movie to be a little more…more…well, less worst.

    My main concern is the toys. I cursed Hasbro for cut POAs on movie line, but I did it based on what the same Hasbro gave to us on past few months: PoC/30th Ann/Renegades lines. Amazing toys, they rase our quality patterns and made us crazy, demanding for more stuff on the same level. On this point I totally agree with Gyre-Viper: “if Hasbro wasn’t treating fans right I wouldn’t be staring at 30th Anniversary Sci-Fi (and Airtight, Lifeline, Law, Techno-Viper and others) and marveling at its amazing execution”.

    Now, I fear about how this mess with the movie will affect the brand. Will it be extinct? Fall on another “hiatus”? Resumed on cheap repaints? Suddenly, the lack of ankle articulation does not seems so bad…

  • Neapolitan Joe

    Hasbro & Paramount: not professional.

  • clark

    I think all of the anger that has come up due to the delay is because of the reason Paramount and Hasbro gave for the delay. They did not say “After viewing the film we feel there are some things that we can do to really improve this movie. So in the next nine months we’re going back and shooting some new scenes to leave fewer holes in the story, re-edit the fil to make it flow and easier to follow, and while we’re making this movie better we’re going to go ahead and convert it to 3D.”

    Instead they said “We’re adding 3D, and we’re shooting new scenes to enhance that 3D experience.”

    Well, delaying the movie to add 3D doesn’t do anything to excite the Joe fans, and adding new scenes to enhance the 3D experience just means throwing in a bunch of action filler.

    I hope that you’re right, that they Paramount and Hasbro are really just trying to make the film the best it can be. But I’m skeptical, because based on what we have heard about the viewings, and from the reason given for the delay, it really sounds like they’re going to do anything they can think of to get as much money out of a bad movie as possible.

  • Anonymous

    I don’t think we can expect them to say that. They don’t want the public at large to think G.I. Joe: Retaliation is a bad film or they risk alienating them when the film comes back to release next March.

  • life long joe

    Hasbro is the devil! it’s all about money, money, money, if it wasn’t for fans there would be no money, screw 3D, that crap went out with the 1950′s.

    The first film was super crap this film may be less crap, but it still is crap.