Director Jon Chu Explains How G.I. Joe: Retaliation Will Differ From G.I. Joe: Rise of Cobra
02.16.12 by Ryan
Fans weren't sure what to think when Paramount decided to hire Justin Bieber: Never Say Never and Step Up 3D director Jon Chu for their sequel to 2009's G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra. Armed with a script from Zombieland screenwriters Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick, Chu's work on G.I. Joe: Retaliation was recently unveiled in the form of a first trailer, a Super Bowl spot and an international trailer, all of which show that the new director seems to have done better with the material than Rise of Cobra director Stephen Sommers.
The biggest difference between the two directors is that Chu is a self-professed "fan" of G.I. Joe, while Sommers (reportedly) wasn't. While speaking to Moviefone at the American International Toy Fair, Chu agreed that it wasn't easy taking over a sequel from a non-fan.
It's hard, but I think everybody felt like we wanted to do a sort of re-attitude toward the movie. And that's part of the tradition of G.I. Joe, that it reinvents itself every several years. So it's sort of inline with what had been done, you know, whether it was in the cartoon or if they changed the theme song to another theme song. To me, all of those different transitions are what makes G.I. Joe so great.
Retaliation is filled with mostly new characters, with the exceptions of Snake Eyes (Ray Park), Duke (Channing Tatum), Storm Shadow (Lee Byung-hun) and Cobra Commander. Joseph Gordon-Levitt played Cobra Commander in Rise of Cobra, but has already admitted he won't return for the sequel. Nevertheless, Chu wanted the character back even if that meant putting a different actor behind the mask.
Cobra Commander was an issue. But I know we couldn't lose Cobra Commander. No, [Gordon-Levitt won't return] but we figured out a way that's pretty nice. And you get the Cobra Commander that you've always wanted. Or, to me, what I always wanted: a bad-ass villain. He's one of the most iconic villains ever.
Another character Chu had to have was the mercenary Firefly, who was absent from Rise of Cobra and will be played by Ray Stevenson (Thor). Usually dressed like a camouflaged ninja with a covered face, Chu admits that Retaliation has a "different take" on Firefly.
One of my favorite characters and I had to have him in this movie. We do a different take on Firefly — no doubt — so he's not exactly the "Firefly" Firefly that we know. But he's a force to be reckoned with. He's a bad-ass and he still kicks some serious ass.
Chu admitted that bringing back Cobra Commander was only one of several details he was interested in changing in the sequel.
That and no lips on Snake Eyes. And no laser guns. And as much real, physical stunts as we can. I don't want to shoot on a green screen. Of course we had to do some green screen, but, for the most part, we got to shoot a lot of practical stunts.
For long-time fans of G.I. Joe, Chu also said that Retaliation will be more like the Larry Hama comic book. "The last movie I see as more like the cartoon version," said Chu. "I think we're more like the comic book."
Retaliation sees the Joes double crossed and on the run, with Roadblock (Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson) leading a team of Joes that includes Flint (D.J. Cotrona), Lady Jaye (Adrianne Palicki) and General Joe Colton (Bruce Willis). "Just bringing Bruce Willis and Dwayne together, in itself, hopefully, indicates a change of tone and in the movie," said Chu. "Bringing those two together I would hope shows that we're serious about it. Not a thing where we're just trying to get a franchise going up again."