Anybody who saw Paramount’s original attempt at a G.I. Joe movie, 2009’s G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra, will tell you the same thing: the last thing anybody in the world needs is a sequel to G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra. There wasn’t a bit of fun to be had in that train wreck of a movie. Not even an ounce of nostalgia to be squeezed from its throwback subject matter. Even the most diehard apologists I know that were childhood fans of the Hasbro toy line/cartoon series didn’t dare say a good word about that urban assault suit wearing, pathetic excuse for a summer blockbuster. Unfortunately, according to Hollywood (and to some extent the ticket buying public), we need a sequel to everything, so we’re going to get another G.I. Joe anyways.
The good news is that new director Jon M. Chu seems to be pulling out all of the casting stops to erase the memory of that lackluster first effort and draw people back into the theater with the promise of some big time star power. Already he’s made a couple of solid jabs at that goal by hiring Wu Tang legend the RZA to play Snake Eyes and Storm Shadow’s mentor the Blind Master and one of the hot chicks from Friday Night Lights (okay, Adrianne Palicki) to play Lady Jaye. And in addition to that, he’s landed a couple of really solid body shots by getting Rome‘s Ray Stevenson to play Firefly and Fast Five‘s franchise rejuvenator Dwayne Johnson to play Roadblock. Just looking at those four actors alone makes this sequel look cooler than the original, and that’s acknowledging the fact that we have to deal with blank page non-actor Channing Tatum returning as Duke. But none of those announcements are Chu’s knockout blow.
That big shot might be about to come, as Heat Vision is reporting that Bruce Willis is now negotiating to take on the role of Joe Colton, the obscure but important character who was the first man ever to be a member of G.I. Joe. Willis is one of the biggest stars on the planet, even after the somewhat dubious choices he’s been making in recent years, and instantly his inclusion makes the G.I. Joe sequel (which now seems to be called G.I. Joe 2: Retaliation instead of G.I. Joe: Cobra Strikes) a much bigger deal than the original effort ever was. I could feel my knees get a little wobbly when The Rock got announced as Roadblock, but if Chu is able to officially sign Willis that just might be the big blow necessary to make me loopy enough to stumble back into the theater for another G.I. Joe film. I’m starting to understand how battered spouses who can’t leave their significant others feel. You don’t see the way G.I. Joe treats me when nobody else is around… things can be really nice.