Production on director Jon Chu’s G.I. Joe 2 (tentatively titled G.I. Joe: Retaliation) is about to get underway, with big action stars like Dwayne Johnson and Bruce Willis having been recruited to give the sequel an edge over its moderately-received predecessor.

Casting calls sent out for the Hasbro flick reveal the names of a few brand new Joes that’ll make their debut in the G.I. Joe followup, along with some more information about the plot.

Hasbro CEO Brian Goldner previously indicated that G.I. Joe: Retaliation would essentially amount to a semi-franchise reboot that wouldn’t require moviegoers to be familiar with the original film. However, according to io9, it looks like the sequel will still be “pretty strongly connected” to the first pic – even though Channing Tatum, Ray Park, and Byung-hun Lee are the only returning cast members.

New additions to the Joe team look to include Walker (the token wise-cracker), Robyn (a female weapons expert), and Brock (a tough guy from the hood). There’s also the fresh-faced Mouse (Joseph Mazzello), a character from the Sgt. Savage and Screaming Eagles series, and the lesser-known Blind Master (RZA) – a martial arts master expected to be shown  primarily via flashbacks involving a young Storm Shadow.

With regards to plot, it looks like the chamelon-like Zartan (Arnold Vosloo) will indeed be showing up again in the G.I. Joe sequel. The film also features a new villain in the form of Lecter, a high-tech gadgets expert who aids Zartan in his quest to (you guessed it) take over the world. Part of said scheme will involve some tricky geopolitical maneuvering, since there are numerous world leader and diplomat roles to be filled in the film as well.

Some longtime G.I. Joe fans will probably be disappointed to hear about these new (but still familiar) characters being added to the franchise, when there are still popular previously- established soldiers from the Joe universe that have yet to make the jump to the big screen. That’s just how it goes, sometimes…

All indications are that Chu and his G.I. Joe 2 scribers – Zombieland screenwriting duo Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick – are definitely taking a more grounded approach to the Joe lore. With a reduced budget, several noteworthy action movie stars as cast members, and a plan to shoot the sequel as more of a gritty and unpolished combat flick, Chu’s G.I. Joe: Retaliation should definitely feel less over-the-top than Stephen Sommer’s Rise of Cobra. Whether or not it ends up being more (or less) entertaining as a result is the question for now.

G.I. Joe: Retaliation will arrive in U.S. theaters on June 29th, 2012.

Source: io9