My biggest problem with all the remakes of and updates to old properties as they return to the big screen is the nonsensical changes many of them endure. In most cases, someone makes changes for the sake of change itself. Maybe the new writers and directors are trying to put their own stamp on things, maybe they have little love for or familiarity with the original property, but either way, we’re often left with a product similar to the original in name only.
Take the recent G.I. Joe: Rise of Cobra flick, for example. Taken on its own, it’s a mediocre flick at best. As a G.I. Joe object, however, it’s a far cry from the original comics and cartoon. They’ve rewritten character origins for starters, then rewrote their relationships, redesigned Cobra, and changed the look of some key characters. None of these, I should add, were for the better. Give main characters codenames before they’re even Joes? Ridiculous. Castrate a couple of beloved bad guys? Plain insulting.
And the fancy body armor? That reeked of a studio exec demanding a gimmick to move the action along.
In contrast, check out this teaser for the upcoming G.I. Joe: Renegades cartoon:
Debate the design and animation quality if you like, but I think this version of Cobra is a smart move. It explains the power and the resources they should have at their disposal, and it makes them a credible threat as a possible terrorist organization (which is, essentially, what they were in the past).
The G.I. Joe formula is pretty simple: spies, ninjas, and pitched battles. Given our modern War on Terror, it seems it would be a no-brainer to drop this formula into the same setting. Even striking the pitched battle bit of the formula, Renegades sets itself up to have a huge conspiracy and covert insurgency. Renegades still has room to disappoint, of course. It’s early. But it suggests an appreciation for the original rather than just a blatant cash grab.
That just makes more sense to me. If they’re going to shred and rewrite the original properties, why use the original properties at all? If they want to cash in on the name for the sake of nostalgia, does it not make more sense to capture what the original was all about? Even if fans were only familiar with the cheesy piece of crap that was the G.I. Joe cartoon, at least they may have been happier with a familiar cheesy piece of crap in the movie instead of just plain crap.
Get the fans behind the flicks instead of working against them, and maybe the flicks wouldn’t tank.