According to an article at the movie news site Ain't It Cool News, the studio and producers want to reach a wider, international audience (okay), but apparently aren't sure a movie about American soldiers will fly.
That's right, the producers are afraid that characters that have been an American staple for many, many decades and touched the lives of children of many generations (including my father and myself) will offend everyone outside (and probably, in their minds, inside) America. And thus, they begin destroying one of the most iconic fictional characters in American history.
I'm linking to the AICN article at the bottom of this post, and I think that Merrick (one of the writers for that site) sums up how I feel. This just makes no sense to me and it seems the producers are acting in an outrageously politically correct fashion, and not in the best interest of the property.
Can you imagine if this were a character from another country, and producers changed the characters' location, culture, etc., because they were afraid the rest of the viewing audience around the world would hate it because of that?
I say let the market decide. I loved Transformers and had very few problems with the changes they made, but this is just ridiculous. Attention producers and Paramount: Please, please, PLEASE don't make such a bad decision with the G.I. Joe movie! I know you're rushing this into production because of the potential writer, actor and director strikes (don't get me started on the alleged Teen Thor...), but don't destroy a truly American icon!
Unless maybe you think you're on to something and can re-tool the upcoming Captain America movie in to Captain International...
Source: Ain't It Cool News (read Merrick's reaction which I agree with)