Friday, August 7, 2009

G.I. Joe: The Movie That Should Have Been

Did you know that the new "G.I. Joe" movie released today is based on a cartoon series from the mid-1980s called "G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero," which itself was based on a line of 4 inch action figures from Hasbro, which, in turn, was based on a comic book from Marvel Comics? That's right: the comic book came before the action figures. How did that happen?

Well, "G.I. Joe" was first created in the 1960s by the toy company Hasbro as a boy's version of Mattel's "Barbie" doll. But by 1977, high petroleum prices (which drove up the cost of plastics), among other things, signalled the end of the line for 12" G.I. Joe dolls. But the phenomenal success of smaller, 4" Star Wars action figures in subsequent years convinced Hasbro that the time was right to revive G.I. Joe in 4 inch form in the early 1980s, after a five year hiatus.

But Hasbro apparently believed that the military theme of the old "G.I. Joe" dolls would not be popular with kids in the 1980s. So the company went to Marvel Comics and suggested that they work cooperatively to create a new "G.I. Joe" comic book and toy line. And it was Marvel writer Larry Hamma primarily who changed "G.I. Joe" from the name of a doll to the name of a team, a team whose members in many ways were more super heroes than special forces.

This was not the "G.I. Joe" of my childhood. Mine were the ones from the 1970s with fuzzy beards and "kung fu grip" and an inverted peace symbol as a team logo. That version never spawned a comic book or a cartoon or a movie. But someone did recently make a 90 second animated film based on this older version, just to show what might have been. Here it is:

1 comment:

  1. Could there be an even bigger comic fan than Conclusions Drawn? This clip suggests that we must at least consider the posibility.