In an attempt to put out a wildfire that threatens to grow into a full -blown conflagration, Hasbro today tried to put down rumors that the upcoming GI Joe movie will water down the US Marine-based action figure into a international light-weight based in Brussels.
Specifically the uproar comes over the GI Joe movie that Paramount is developing for release next year. It seems that Paramount and Hasbro, which makes GI Joe, have gotten a little nervous about marketing a film with such obvious ties to the US Military, particularly when that military is involved in two wars, Iraq and Afghanistan. Rumors floated that the film was going to bastardize the GI Joe franchise to the "Global Integrated Joint Operating Entity", (GIJOE). Joe would be a multinational force dude rather than a mean Marine.
But the outrage over that potential wholesale change is palpable. This from the Army Times Web site:
"I think what Paramount and Hasbro is doing to GI Joe (an AMERICAN icon) is absolutely awful. This is the epitome of corporate greed and destroys the foundation in the belief in the American Way. This is an honored US Marine, who stands for American patriotism and strength. Changing this character to be an International Patsy is ridiculous and Paramount, Viacom and Hasbro should be ashamed at even the idea of taking away this American Hero from our Children and undermines every person in our Armed Forces who fight to protect our Country. If they want an International Hero ..... they should make up their own!!!!!!."
And another comment from The Fedora Lounge blog:
"They are doing it for the market power of the brand, completely changing its definition. Capitalism at its best. Everything that seems to be solely American Government or American Military is taboo. This is to make the move more internationally digestible, thus its suckage factor will go through the roof. I think Ill watch all the cartoons on DVD and skip this 'remake' altogether."
While that idea has many folks up in arms, it really shouldn't come as a great surprise that Hasbro might tweak GI Joe's image. It has done so many times before. Over the years though GI Joe has included other countries and fighters from all manner of military organizations so it might not be such a big surprise that the movie take that in to consideration.
On the GI Joe Web site it says: "GI Joe as a product has assumed many different faces over the years - from military hero to adventurer to Adventure Team member, to Super Joe, to the smaller but no less powerful Real American Hero (which itself changed over time), to Sgt. Savage, to GI Joe: Extreme, and back to 12" GI Joe action figures. There has never been a toy that has had the complex history of G.I. JOE, and there hasn't been a boy's toy, aside perhaps from trains, that have lasted as long. Hasbro has kept G.I. JOE on the market nearly continuously since 1964, with the exception of a few years between the retirement of the classic vintage GI Joe in 1976 and the introduction of the new ‘A Real American Hero ' in 1982. This has not always been an easy task."
All of this has lead Hasbro to perhaps become a little more than nervous. On Hasbro's GI Joe site today:
"Hasbro's G.I. Joe Team wanted to take this opportunity to clarify some of the facts regarding the G.I. Joe live-action movie that we are developing with Paramount Pictures. First and foremost, we are not changing what the G.I. Joe brand is about. The name "G.I. Joe" will always be synonymous with bravery and heroism.
The G.I. Joe brand has enjoyed a successful 43-year history, spanning two key generations. The first was the line of 12-inch "realistic military" figures that were popular with kids in the 1960s and 1970s. The second generation, was created in 1982, and is based on a cast of fictional heroes and villains that make up the "G.I. Joe vs. Cobra" fantasy. The premise of this fantasy is the story of the G.I. Joe team, led by Duke, and their "fight for freedom wherever there is trouble" against the evil Cobra Commander and his Cobra force. This storyline was an instant hit with kids in the early 1980s, spawning a highly popular 3-3/4-inch action figure line, comic book collection and animated series.
This movie will be a modern telling of the "G.I. Joe vs. Cobra" storyline and its compelling characters that Hasbro created 25 years ago. The G.I. Joe team will not be based in Brussels. Instead, they will be based out of the "Pit" as they were throughout the 1980s comic book series.
And, in keeping with the G.I. Joe vs. Cobra fantasy, the movie will feature characters and locations from around the world. Duke, the lead character and head of the G.I. Joe team, will embody the values of bravery and heroism that the first generation of G.I. Joe figures established.G.I. Joe is a very important property to Hasbro and we thank all of our fans for their enthusiasm. Without all of you, the brand would not be where it is today."
That may not silence all of the critics but is might placate them a bit.