Ignore all those robots in disguise already; 2009 will be the year of GI Joe, thanks to the Resolute cartoon and upcoming movie. And at the GI Joe panel Thursday morning, Hasbro executives and the creators of both projects explained just why everything they do, they do it for you.
After showing the previously revealed test animation for Resolute, supervising director Joaquim Dos Santos explained that the new show (visually inspired by Ghost In The Shell) will not only be more violent and "adult" than the original, but also more realistic in its weaponary. Ignoring the laser guns of the '80s cartoon, the new show will use real-life tech projected ten years in the future: "Our idea is to be realistic for what actual soldiers will be using in five to ten years."
While Resolute is clearly being viewed as Hasbro as an introduction to GI Joe for new audiences, Dos Santos added that they're definitely not out to alienate old audiences, saying that the show's being created to be the show that you wanted to see when you were a bloodthirsty fourteen years old in the 1980s: "It really is for the fans."
That was the continuing theme during the panel, with Joe comic writer and movie consultant Larry Hama joining in:
From the very beginning, even after the first issue of the comic, I got lots and lots of letters, hundreds of them. I realized it had to be interactive. If the fans didn't like it, it was gone. It's because of you, it's your story.
Talking about the upcoming movie, the producer Lorenzo di Bonaventura and writer Stuart Beattie (himself a fan of the 1980s comic series and toy line) discussed the problems with having so many characters. Di Bonaventura started by saying,
When we did Transformers, we had to find a human way into the story. With GI Joe, there are a lot of humans.
Their solution to this problem was twofold. Firstly, having multiple character arcs throughout the movie playing out against a very basic plot, and the second... well, more movies, as Beattie explained:
I'm big on simple plots and complex characters... I tried to model the movie on Raiders of The Lost Ark. Instead of ten four minute action sequences, we have four ten minute action sequences. I'm serious; there are only four action sequences, and they just keep getting bigger and bigger... They're such rich characters, I wanted to make sure that they were best represented... In order to deal with all the characters, we thought sequels would be the best way to go.
The team were very clear about The Rise of Cobra being the first of a planned series, as when di Bonaventura discussed the massive budget for the movie:
Paramount gave us more money to make this first movie than they did on Transformers.
The best news about the movie came when someone asked why Christopher Eccleston's Destro is being portrayed as the main villain. Won't there be any movie version of Cobra Commander? Writer Beatie paused, smiled, and then answered:
Well, the movie IS called 'The Rise of Cobra', so I'm sure you'll see Cobra Commander in there.
Of course, I expect we'll see a lot more of him in the sequels.