Snake Eyes hasn’t even hit screens yet and we’re already talking about a follow-up. To be fair, the G.I. Joe reboot is an origin story that tells the tale of the franchise’s enigmatic hero, Snake Eyes. It naturally leans into setting up the future.
“I think now that we’ve done him justice in his becoming, it’s seeing where he goes,” says Golding in answer to what he wants to explore for his eponymous character in the future. He’s chatting to Fandom ahead of the release of the latest big-screen G.I. Joe adaptation. “It’s seeing how good he gets — because it’s only up from here — but it’s also the relationships he makes. We’re yet to see Timber Wolf and we’re yet to see if there’s a romance that happens within the Joes, or whatever — those are slight nods from the comic book stuff.”
Timber, if you don’t know, is Snake Eyes’ wolf companion – a character we’d love to see brought to life in the rebooted franchise because, well, animals are good. Plus, he’s a loyal and highly effective sidekick. The Battle Cat to Snake Eyes’ He-Man. Romantically, Snake Eyes has been linked to G.I. Joe operative Scarlett – who is introduced in the movie, played by Samara Weaving.
“We’re excited to see how this film does and hopefully it does enough that people want more,” adds Golding.
There will likely be an appetite for more, particularly since the film does a decent job of setting up the next steps for some key characters in its closing moments.
Snake Eyes and Storm Shadow: A Troublesome Brotherhood
Snake Eyes introduces terrorist organization Cobra as the bad guys and spotlights the Arashikage clan, a family-like guild of ninjas who take in and train the titular mysterious outsider. The movie builds in plenty of mythology bringing a depth to the world we see on screen that we’re itching to know more about. Sitting down with the cast of Snake Eyes – Henry Golding; alongside Andrew Koji, who plays Snake Eyes’ ever-popular sometimes-foe sometimes-ally Storm Shadow; Úrsula Corberó, who plays Cobra agent The Baroness; and Haruka Abe, who plays new character Akiko – we asked them to take us deeper into the G.I. Joe screen universe.
Golding cites the way the film introduces Cobra as one of his favourite aspects: “It was done and was written in a way that it wasn’t in your face … which leaves you yearning for more and knowing the next [film] is just going to blow it out of the water and grow everything exponentially in the universe.” But he says it’s exploring the complex relationship between Snake Eyes and Storm Shadow that is critical to the movie and whatever comes next. Golding is excited to explore a shared comic-book history that positions the characters as allies, then enemies, then allies again.
“When you watch the movie, you realise the strength of bond that they’ve built and that’s really important moving forward because you need to understand the mechanics of who they are as people, but also why it’s so intense and why it means so much to them. I think moving on from this movie, to be able to explore more of that but with different dynamics is the exciting part,” he says.
G.I. Joe fans will know that Storm Shadow winds up joining Cobra. However, given that Snake Eyes sees him building a brotherly bond with Snake Eyes and teaming up within the Arashikage Clan to fight a common foe – each with a different personal agenda – it’s interesting to know which side the fandom prefers to see him on. We polled our Joepedia community, and at the time of writing 65% preferred to see Storm Shadow – aka Tommy – on the side of Cobra. Boo hiss.
“Yin and Yang. The Arashikage Clans balance between good,evil, right, wrong, selflessness, and selfishness. And I’d certainly love to see Timber and Storm Shadows canine equivalent in the film too.” — G.I. Joe community member, DaleJ74
“You can’t have a yin without the yang,” agrees Golding. “I think this is probably the most troublesome brotherhood written in any element of comic books and one of the most iconic, so to have them waver once in a while and fight for the same cause, I love that. But you can’t have that if they’re both on the same side the entire time because that’s the excitement and the joy … You can’t have them on the same side. It’s not as exciting as when they do finally arrive together for a particular thing — that’s where it’s like, ‘Oh, my god, this is amazing!’”
In the comics, the relationship between Snake Eyes and Storm Shadow, as in the film, is complex — although we see Storm Shadow defect to Cobra, we do see the duo come together again. Storm Shadow actor Andrew Koji was delighted to hear the community’s verdict. “We can take that going forward,” he says, suggesting they won’t shy away from exploring the character’s darker side in future movies. Like the fandom and Golding, he also believes it makes things more interesting when Storm Shadow is aligned with Cobra: “There’s more turmoil, maybe, going on inside him. I think that’s maybe what is more interesting — the layers that you can do going into it.”
“It’s important to understand that Snake Eyes the movie is an origin point of the silent master and Storm Shadow; having his life saved by Snake Eyes is extremely critical in this story. Their brotherhood could build up to be better and stronger together rather than separate and full of hate and divided.” — G.I. Joe community member, Cordell Mitchell
Koji adds, “Going forward, there’s a lot I’d be interested to know. The interesting thing would be to explore the shades of grey, not just the black and the white … the further he goes inside the conflict, the more conflicted and turmoiled he is — but I think he was brainwashed as well at one point. There’s a whole tapestry of stuff you could go into.”
Indeed – and with the MCU currently obsessed with mind control, we wouldn’t be surprised if the G.I. Joe franchise also went there. Somewhere else Koji would like to see the sequel switch up is his costume.
“I’d like to see him in a different look. I’d like to see him in the hood look, the bow and arrow,” he says.
But perhaps the biggest indicator of what the sequel could hold is what Koji says next: “I’m going to read issue 27. I’ll talk to Larry [Hama, creator of the comic books]. At this point, this is going forward, now that I’ve got his stamp of approval hopefully for the whole thing, I’ll probably ask him what’s going on. I’ll probably talk to the fans as well — that will be a thing. But, I think for me, [Storm Shadow will] just have to be interesting, nuanced, layered, and not just Mr. Evil.”
So what’s in Issue 27? First, a SPOILER WARNING in case you’d rather not read what’s coming.
Okay, ready? In Issue 27 of the comics, we see Storm Shadow and Snake Eyes facing off in a brutal battle on the streets of New York. It also features Snake Eyes’ recruitment into G.I. Joe, Scarlett talking about her romantic feelings towards him, and his remote cabin in the High Sierras where he meets Timber (this issue marks the wolf’s first appearance). It also shows how Snake Eyes is tragically disfigured and loses his voice. And for those looking for clues about which additional characters we could see in the next film, the likes of Clutch, Hawk, Mutt, Torpedo, Wild Bill, and Tripwire appear alongside Cobra bad guys Cobra Commander, Firefly, Wild Weasel, and Destro. Check out the wiki for the full character list.
Akiko: A Brand New Character
One character for whom we can’t look to the comics for clues as to how her story develops is Akiko. Created for the film, Akiko is played by Haruka Abe, who describes her as the Clan’s head of security, agreeing with Henry Golding’s assessment of her as “insanely badass”.
“While the details of her background are still kept a mystery, you find out in the film that she was once an outsider, much like Snake Eyes, to the Clan,” she says. “She was taken in by the Clan and trained very hard and rose through the ranks and became this incredible fighter. So, the Clan means everything to her — it’s her family. It’s such a huge part of who she is, so she is fiercely loyal and protective of the Clan because they mean so much to her.”
Though she’s an original addition to the franchise, at least one element was inspired in part by the comics — her weapon. Abe references Jinx, who fights interchangeably with a naginata staff and two medium-length swords, as a possible influence on Akiko.
“Akiko fights with this very unique weapon that starts off as a bo staff that can shoot out blades on both ends that then splits into two shorter sword/spear-type weapons,” says Abe. “Her fighting style was very unique so my training involved learning how to handle those weapons!”
Realism: The Way of the Samurai
The rest of the cast also focused on weapons training. Golding reveals that they did lots of katana work.
“If you notice in the battle sequences, there’s no flurrying, there’s no trying to look cool — it’s all about the least expenditure of movement and energy because that is the way of the samurai,” he explains. “It’s block, it’s attack — and so it gives a sense of realism. Robert [Schwentke, the director] really wanted the fighting to look as if one, our heroes would get hurt, beat up, and cut and two, it’s more of a realistic kind of battle sequence.”
The film spends a lot of time with the Clan and setting out its traditions and lore. Andrew Koji explains that within the Clan, they practice many different forms of combat and martial arts.
“[Actor and fight choreographer] Iko Uwais is one of the Hard Masters, so he can do all sorts of martial arts. We spoke about that and I think there’s probably a teacher for each different style there,” says Koji. Training included practicing a specific Japanese form of sword fighting and also studying Chanbara, the Japanese cinema Samurai sword-fighting technique.
The Baroness: Power, Humour… and Destro?
For Úrsula Corberó, who plays the film’s Cobra villain, The Baroness, it wasn’t the relationship between Snake Eyes and Storm Shadow, the martial arts, or Arashikage Clan lore that spoke to her most. It was Larry Hama’s historically praised women characters, who are treated no differently to anyone else, that was perhaps her most beloved transition from page to screen.
“I saw it and I enjoyed it so hard,” she says. “We had never-ending conversations with Robert, the director, and I just wanted to have fun and to show this Baroness with this super big potential. It’s all about being powerful, being clever, bold, also manipulative and with a sense of humour at the same time. [She] never loses her smile, you know.”
While she won’t speculate on who might be cast down the line as fellow Cobra member, Destro – her love interest from the comic books – she does admit to wanting to see a possible romance between the Baroness and Storm Shadow. With both Henry Golding and Úrsula Corberó eyeing love stories in their characters’ futures, we could be in for some passion as the movie franchise gathers pace. We’ll just have to wait and see what the sequel brings.
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