This is an open letter to the writer of the sequel to GI Joe: The Rise of Cobra live action movie, from a fan of the old school cartoon and all things Larry Hama.
Dear Sir or Madam:
The original GI Joe live action movie (subtitled The Rise of Cobra) was a harmless, yet still fun movie, although it lacked quite a bit (that would have been quick and simple to add to it) that could have made it a FANTASTIC flick.
A lot of things were done correctly: Snake-Eyes was as bad-ass as he should have been; The Pit was impossibly huge and impressive; it had a pretty big globe-spanning plot; there were *pew-pew!* future laser/pulse guns; and it was an over-the-top, action-filled, weekday afternoon cartoon brought to life.
Unfortunately it got a whooole lot wrong: Like how the fuck could one mess up Cobra Commander's iconic visage?!; Marlon Wayans; Channing Tatum; no Eastern Block Baroness; and no Flint, Lady Jaye, Shipwreck, Dreadnoks, Firefly, or pick-your-own favorite Joe. Oh, and Marlon Wayans and his disgusting romance with the gorgeous chick who played Scarlett. Nothing against Marlon Wayans (other than he's a hack), but Scarlett is Snake-Eyes' bitch.
How to make the sequel that you're currently writing better, and actually get fanboys to BACK your movie instead of arguing against it (sight unseen) months before it even comes out in theaters:
This is so goddamn easy that you're going to slap yourself silly and then shit your pants with the simpleness and obviousness of my (free) advice.
Number 1: Write-out Marlon Wayans, or just kill Ripcord off off-screen, or within the first 5 minutes. Really, GI Joe doesn't need "goofy, Jar Jar Binks-like comic relief." And if you MUST add comic relief, for Christ's sake, that's what Shipwreck is for.
Number 2: Get Larry Hama back on the payroll. Yes, he was a consultant on the first movie (and the one who thank Christfully made sure Snake-Eyes didn't speak at the end), but you'll need him in at least the same capacity for the sequel. He's apparently the only one involved in this whole series who seems to KNOW the characters. The first flick came awfully close to just being GI Joe In Name Only. I'd be willing to bet that any personality injected into the characters (and Breaker's gum scene) were all thanks to him. Hire Larry, and LISTEN to him. When he gives you advice on what a Joe or Cobra agent would do or say, WRITE IT DOWN.
Seriously, if you're not going to use the great characters that he spent years fine tuning, what's the goddamn POINT in even making a movie called "GI Joe"?
Number 3: Write in the classic costumes. At the very goddamn least you need to make sure that Cobra Commander has his mirror mask or classic blue hood. DON'T ARGUE WITH ME.
The mirror mask alone is as iconic as Darth Vader's mask. And if the producers bitch and moan that "you can't see Joseph Gordon-Levitt's face behind that mirror mask! *Whiiiine!* We paid him a lot to be the Commander! We needs to see him!... And get me another little boy prostitute from Thailand while you're up!" FUCK the producers! Joseph's got the perfect voice for the Commander, and did anybody complain when you couldn't see Hugo Weaving's face in the entirety of V For Vendetta? Hell no! And without even catching a glimpse of his puss you could still tell it was Hugo there, and he put on the greatest performance of his life! A good actor (like Joseph) could easily do the same here. MIRROR MASK.
The same goes for the rest of the Joes and Cobras. Yeah, this shit may not be up to you, but you can try to slip some notes into the script about how Scarlett wanted a bit more orange and red in her uniform, and how Snake-Eyes threw out his old rubber suit with the molded mouth for an easier to move around in cloth one. And don't forget how the Cobra Troopers wear blue. This isn't too hard, you understand, and we fanboys will eat this stuff up! Every little throwback to the old TV series will have us creaming our jeans.
Number 4: MORE futuristic weapons and vehicles, but don't just make it all about these things. The best action scene in the first movie was staged in The Pit, when it was just the Joes on Cobras, mano y mano. Oh, and no more power armor. That was just faggy tech. More shit like the pulse guns and Night Raven, less Robocop.
Number 5: More classic characters. If you don't know who the popular heroes and villains are, then just ask Mr. Hama. Or ask me. Really, to anybody who's seen the old cartoon or read the comics this should be quite evident: Tomax, Xamot, Flint, Bazooka (fuck you, I liked Bazooka), Lady Jaye, Wild Weasel, Firefly, SHIPWRECK... It's that easy.
Number 6: Really show Cobra in all its glory. Not only the Commander in his true uniform, and Cobra Troopers in theirs, but a snake-themed hidden base, the legit corporate arm of Cobra (Extensive Enterprises, headed by the Crimson Guard Commanders), HISS Tanks, Rattlers, Trouble Bubbles... the fucking WORKS. Make it as ridiculous as Destro's base in the first flick, or any of the episodes of the old show. Or hell, give Cobra its UN-recognized Cobra Island! Once again, talk to Larry; he'll tell you how to do it right.
Number 7: Write in a couple of lines about "Porkchop Sandwiches," or "I'm a computer!" Yeah, "Knowing is half the battle" and shit from the first movie were appreciated, but the hardcore fans (who will get excited about this sequel, and thusly get John Q Public excited about it) will suck your anus dry from appreciation with these quips.
HELL, make an entire viral marketing promotion using reenactments of the Fensler Film shorts using the real actors from the movie! This one's aimed at more the promotional people, but considering the SHITTY ads we got for the first movie, they need all the help they can get. Writer, pass this along to them when you're done with it.
Number 8: Write that Duke got his face blown away with a grenade, and he had to have reconstructive surgery to fix the damage. That way you can write that non-actor Channing Tatum out, and get a good actor to take Duke's place. Duke is necessary for a GI Joe movie, Channing is not. Try to use this grenade thing to get the casting people to find somebody of Joseph's talent to fill in Duke's shoes (in other words, SOMEBODY WHO CAN EMOTE MORE THAN "RETARD JARHEAD").
And while you're at it why not make it Ripcord who accidentally fucks with the grenade that causes Duke's face to blow up, and say that the explosion kills Marlon, I mean Ripcord too. Two birds, one explosive stone. THAT'S writing for you!
Number 9: Have FUN with it. The tone of the first movie was okay, though I would have preferred something a bit more serious. Go nuts with a Weather Dominator, or a Pyramid of Darkness, or something huge, but so totally Cobra. I don't think you can really go "too far" with a property like GI Joe, and the fans will expect something huge too.
And make Snake-Eyes even more of a cut-ass rugged ninja too. Do NOT cut back on the ninjitsu, even if Storm Shadow doesn't come back (and he should not). Firefly could be written to hold his own against the Snake. More Snake-Eyes WILL BE EXPECTED.
Oh, and please don't forget about Zartan. His part of the story was obviously the ENTIRE POINT of the first flick... Don't discredit that.
I could probably come up with more, but if you just follow these small pieces of advice you will have a movie script that the fans will actually like. I know! That's CRAZY isn't it! Yes, there will always be some lamers who bash your (hopefully) brilliant script just because they're anonymous on the internet, but you will have the majority of the children of the 80s eating out of your hands if you listen to me.
No need to thank me, I'm just a body massage machine.... GO!