10 Classic G.I. Joe Character Designs that Will Never Make it Into a Live-Action Film

by Howie Decker @HowardTheDeck on April 7, 2017

in G.I. Joe, Movies

As soon as news broke that Paramount had greenlit a third G.I. Joe movie, speculation began as to which characters will appear in the next installment.

Many long-time G.I. Joe fans got the visual Cobra Commander design they wanted in G.I. Joe: Retaliation. This achievement is quite rare. When ’80s cartoon and toy properties are rebooted as live-action feature films today, there are certain visual designs that will never make the conversion to the big screen (call it the Nolan Bat-verse effect).

Today’s fans want a visual design that lends itself to realism, but still pays homage to the source material. It’s a fine line that directors, set/costume designers and casting directors have to walk. This was proven with the casting choices in G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra – Christopher Eccleston was cast as a more cerebral, less-jacked Destro. If the film was cast to mimic the ’80s cartoon and comic, Destro would have more likely been played by someone like Vin Diesel or Jason Statham.


As crazy as it sounds, I’d actually love to see a studio and director (of any property) throw caution to the wind, buck the recent trend of skewing toward realism and go for a full-on, true-to-the-source motion picture. Picture it: lasers instead of bullets, brightly colored costumes, impractical vehicles, an insane plot. You know you’d like it.

Sadly, it will never happen. The makers of comic and cartoon based movies will continue to attempt to translate these properties into “real world” stories and aesthetics. That said, here are ten familiar G.I. Joecharacter designs that will never make it into a live-action feature film.

10. Gung Ho

The fanboys were set abuzz when G.I. Joe: Retaliation writers Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick mentioned Gung-Ho in a recent interview. Released as part of the second wave of 3 3/4 inch figures, Ettienne LaFitte is a long-time favorite of many Joe fans.

Why Gung-Ho’s classic design will never appear in a movie:

Gung-Ho epitomizes the way-overboard ’80s action hero. He could knock down a half-dozen Cobra Troopers with one punch, or just lift one over his head and toss him off screen. His classic design includes a sleeveless, open vest, exposing his arms and his tattooed chest. While an iconic ’80s G.I. Joe look, there’s no way we ever see this version of Gung-Ho on the big screen.

9. Quick Kick

MacArthur S. Ito is a black belt in Tae Kwan Do, Go Ju Ryu, Southern Praying Mantis Kung-Fu, Tai Chi Sword, Zen Sword and Wing-Chun. Sounds like a kick-ass character to adapt to the big screen, right?

Why Quick Kick’s classic design will never appear in a movie:

While shirts and shoes might have been optional in 80s ass-kicking, that look doesn’t fly today. Even the modern comic book version of Quick Kick’s look has been changed, and comics are where people do battle wearing things like this:

8. Raptor

This entry could just as easily have been “Every Figure Released in 1987”. While Raptor would stick out like a sore thumb in a live-action Joe movie, in 1987 he fit right in. Other characters from ’87 whose visual design will never appear in a movie: Croc Master, Crystal Ball, Psyche Out, Big Boa, Techno Viper, all of Sgt. Slaughter’s Renegades, Cobra-La, and Battle Force 2000. Ironically, the G.I. Joe with possibly the most realistic visual design of them all debuted in 1987 as well: Gung-Ho in his Marine Dress Blues.

Why Raptor’s classic design will never appear in a movie:

By 1987 it was possible to populate an entire bedroom floor battlefield with shirtless combatants. Don’t expect to see a movie screen filled with such character designs any time soon.

7. Tomax & Xamot

Dick Grayson + Bruce Wayne x 2 = The Crimson Twins. Tomax and Xamot have the acrobatic ability of Robin and the corporate savvy of Bruce Wayne, which makes them sound like perfect candidates to appear in the next G.I. Joe movie.

Why Tomax & Xamot’s classic design will never appear in a movie:

While Extensive Enterprises would be a great backdrop for an evil scheme (since the White House has already been done), the visual design of its top executives would certainly be altered. Gone are the matching metal knee boots and red sashes, replaced with ‘real world’ business attire. We can only hope they still feel each other’s pain and finish each others’ sentences, though.

6. Cross Country

Driver of the G.I. Joe H.A.V.O.C., this North Carolinian proved to be quite the tough cookie in the Sunbow episode “Into Your Tent I Will Silently Creep”.

Why Cross Country’s classic design will never appear in a movie:

It’s been said that Jon Chu wanted to give Cobra Commander his classic hooded look in G.I. Joe: Retaliation, but when they screen tested it the character looked too much like a Ku Klux Klan member. Undoubtedly a wise move to avoid anything that could be misconstrued as hate symbolism- which is why Cross Country and his Confederate flag belt buckle will never appear in a G.I. Joe movie.
5. Deep Six

At some point, having a diver at the team’s disposal would surely come in handy- and the Joes are lucky to have Malcom Willoughby at the ready. Driver of the flying submarine called the S.H.A.R.C., Deep Six was one of the 3 ?” figures that was least deserving of the term ‘action’.

Why Deep Six’s classic design will never appear in a movie:

Deep Six looks like he’s wearing more of a mech suit than diving gear. The figure was designed to be played with underwater, but a movie version would be updated and less bulky. If Deep Six lumbered on screen in this outfit he’d look more like a Scooby-Doo villain than a G.I. Joe diver.

4. Bazooka

David Katzenbogen was certainly not a G.I. Joe character known for his brains and quick wit. Funny how the dumb guy was able to pass enough tests to get certified as an expert in Dragon Anti-Tank Missle, Milan System, LAW rocket, Recoilless rifle, LAW System and all Warsaw Pact RPG systems and complete Advanced Infantry and Armor Training at Fort Benning and Fort Knox.


Why Bazooka’s classic design will never appear in a movie:

We’ll never see an Armor Defeating Weapons System operator sporting only the protective mesh of a football jersey. Classic Bazooka running around on screen launching missiles at tanks would be like watching Falling Down if you replaced William Foster with Keanu Reeves’ character from The Replacements.

3. Alley Vipers

The Alley Vipers are Cobra’s version of a S.W.A.T. team, equipped and trained to handle urban combat situations. According to the file card, the Alley Viper’s body armor weighs 50 pounds and they carry around 30 pounds of weapons, ammo, grenades and climbing gear.

Why the Alley Vipers’ classic design will never appear in a movie:

Because it’s bright orange. If it’s not black leather or Kevlar, it rarely appears in today’s action movies. A shame too, because these guys would look amazing on screen.

2. Sci-Fi

Sci-Fi could actually serve a specific and entertaining role on a big screen G.I. Joe team. Since the film adaptation of Joe has exchanged lasers for bullets, Seymour Fine could be an expert in an advanced new laser-based weapons system. His file card says he can set his sights on a target 2 ? miles away, and keep the laser steady for long periods of time. Sounds like a great covert ops type, right?

Why Sci-Fi’s classic design will never appear in a movie:

He’s a human Highlighter. There is no battle situation in the history of conflict in which Sci-Fi’s gear would be functional. I remember getting this figure as a kid and thinking “Wow- he’s bright!” and that was in the ’80s.

There’s just a whole buncha ‘never gonna happen’ in this picture

1. The Dreadnoks

This might be the biggest shame of them all. The Dreadnoks are wildly popular within the G.I. Joe fan community, and have the potential to garner mainstream appeal. Zartan’s destructive and foul cronies bring a unique mixture of evil and comedy, and would absolutely jump off the screen.

Why The Dreadnoks’ classic design will never appear in a movie:

While Zartan’s final G.I. Joe: Retaliation fate might be reversible (see: Storm Shadow), it would be hard to see the creators of a third G.I. Joe movie using him as a major villain again, after having driven the plot for most of Retaliation. However, if the Dreadnoks do appear in some capacity, with or without their esteemed leader, there’s no way they’d look like this:

Howie Decker (@HowardtheDeck) is the publisher and lead blogger for UnderScoopFire, and takes fantasy baseball & taco night very seriously.

Jason G January 21, 2017 at 8:13 am

On point, Howie. Throw Zartan’s design in with the Dreadnoks too.

The original designs made it easy for kids to differentiate each character and lock on to a favorite (and find him/her in new episodes.) Leaving that to the actors in these film makes it more difficult for kids and even adults to have that connection. A little ’80s flair in every character could go a long way with today’s audience, both kids and adults.

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