A few years ago, the elite cover special missions unit codenamed G.I. Joe waged their war against the terrorist organization Cobra on the big screen. But despite having two movies – The Rise of Cobra and Retaliation – that were modest box office successes, the cinematic G.I. Joe universe is currently being prepped up for a reboot.
It’s unclear if the new movies will connect to the previous ones or what Hasbro has in mind, but what fans really want to know is which characters from the source materials will appear. Whether they came from the comics or the cartoons, here are 5 G.I. Joe characters we hope to see in the future and 5 more we’d rather not.
10 Don’t Want To See: Everyone in G.I. Joe Extreme
When the popularity of G.I. Joe faded, Hasbro decided that the best course of action was to turn the cartoon soldiers based on toys into extreme badasses, as per ‘90s tradition.
This resulted in G.I. Joe Extreme, where the Joes were now edgy testosterone-fueled bodybuilders who fought the Soldiers of Khaos, Anarchy, and Ruin (aka SKAR). To say that this revival was stupid is putting it lightly, as G.I. Joe Extreme had a short lifespan before Hasbro brought the original Joes back. The Extreme Joes are an artifact of the ‘90s and they should stay that way.
9 Want To See: The Vehicles
Obviously none of the cars in G.I. Joe are sentient (unless the story is a Transformers crossover) but the USS Flagg and the Cobra Flight Pods could be considered characters of their own. Half of the appeal of G.I. Joe is owed to these iconic vehicles, and they’re a must for the forthcoming G.I. Joe revival.
The previous movies featured new vehicles and classics like the Ripper and HISS tanks, but they didn’t figure much into the action. Granted, they were being saved for bigger sequences but the new movies have the chance to increase their use and presence.
8 Don’t Want To See: Eco-Warriors and Star Brigade
As bad as G.I. Joe’s extreme phase was, it wasn’t as reviled as the trends that came before it. These were the Eco-Warriors and the Star Brigade, sub-teams mandated by Hasbro so that G.I. Joe could be as cool as whatever was cool back then.
The Eco-Warriors were environmentally conscious soldiers who fought Cobra terrorists dedicated to polluting nature, while Star Brigade featured Joes in space. While the Eco-Warriors at least had a noble cause despite constantly being mocked by everyone else, Star Brigade was so lame that its central figure Robo-Joe became a punchline in the fanbase.
7 Want To See: The Dreadnoks
Zartan may be a master of assassinations and disguise, but that doesn’t make him a loner. In fact, he has one of the most recognizable villainous factions in G.I. Joe, that being the Dreadnoks.
The Dreadnoks are violent bikers who wield an assortment of weapons that include a flamethrower and a chainsaw. Some of the Dreadnoks are also Zartan’s family, most notably his sister Zarana who’s also an espionage expert. In the movies, the Joes lacked decent enemies who weren’t merely enhanced henchmen, and the Dreadnoks could fulfill this need.
6 Don’t Want To See: The Football Joes
Before the National Football League (NFL) was swamped in controversy, it was the biggest trend that G.I. Joe couldn’t miss. This resulted in not one footballer Joes but two, including retired Chicago Bears defensive linebacker William “The Fridge” Perry.
And then there’s Captain Grid Iron, who’s known for his football-shaped grenades and being a former quarterback at West Point. Capt. Grid Iron is such an annoying has-been that according to his file card, the Joes don’t even let him play football. These two embody how lame the ‘80s can get and it’s a gimmick that shouldn’t be revived.
5 Want To See: Alpine & Bazooka
The original G.I. Joe cartoons highlighted teamwork among the Joes and this was best shown through the brotherhood of the mountain-climbing Alpine and the anti-tank specialist Bazooka. The unlikely pair was almost never seen with the other, especially since Alpine was basically Bazooka’s babysitter.
Obviously their goofier animated incarnations were different from the more serious comics, but their strong friendship is something fans fondly remember even today. If the new G.I. Joe movie needs some comic relief, the filmmakers shouldn’t look any further than Alpine and Bazooka.
4 Don’t Want To See: Sgt. Slaughter
The first celebrity sportsman to become a Joe is WWE legend Sgt. Slaughter, who served as the Joe’s badass drill sergeant who constantly power bombed Cobras. As nostalgically beloved as he is, Sgt. Slaughter was still a distracting presence in the cartoons who hogged screen time whenever he showed up.
Sgt. Slaughter’s addition was also emblematic of the outdated trend of celebrities starring in their own cartoons, and Slaughter got his at the expense of the original Joes. While the real Sgt. Slaughter deserves a cameo in the next movie, his unbelievably unstoppable animated form deserves a break.
3 Want To See: Scarlett
Despite being originally marketed towards boys, G.I. Joe gained a dedicated female audience thanks to the cast’s strong and well-written women. Chief among these heroines was Scarlett, an original member of the Joes best known for her leadership and signature crossbow.
Too bad the movies turned her into a generic love interest for Duke to win over, which runs contrary to her original portrayal. Scarlett isn’t even in Retaliation, with her being replaced by Lady Jaye – which few people noticed. If G.I. Joe comes back to cinemas, Scarlett deserves a bigger spotlight than before.
2 Don’t Want To See: Lifeline
Being experienced soldiers, it only makes sense for the Joes to enlist combat medics. While the Joes have someone as reliable as Doc, they also have Lifeline: the lamest medical character possible.
You see, Lifeline is a pacifist who serves in a special forces unit dedicated to fighting deadly terrorists. His characterization echoes Hacksaw Ridge and while this makes for good drama, it doesn’t fit in the heightened action of G.I. Joe. Lifeline’s only purpose in the cartoons was to chastise teammates for shooting enemies and moralize about it, which is something better left in the cartoons.
1 Want To See: Cobra
Cobra is one of the most famous villainous factions of all time, where the terrorist group’s muscle is just as recognizable as their leaders. It’s a shame that the movies did their best to ground legendarily evil characters like Baroness, Destro, and Cobra Commander to reality, despite them being better when over the top.
The Rise of Cobra drastically changed their backstories to needlessly make them sympathetic, and Retaliation featured fewer Cobras than before. The only one to get justice was Storm Shadow, a cool ninja who contrary to popular belief isn’t the only Cobra enforcer worth remembering.