G.I. Joe fans may not have been in love with the first live-action version of their heroes, but things are looking good for the sequel G.I. Joe: Retaliation. Directed by Jon Chu, the film takes a new look at the team. Chu talked to The Hollywood Reporter about the process of casting guys like Bruce Willis (Joe Colton) and Dwayne Johnson (Roadblock) while also coming at the franchise from a different angle. But first, check out the new trailer.
Note that Channing Tatum, star of the first film, appears in the beginning of the trailer and then disappears, perhaps reflecting a larger element that Johnson expressed in a previous interview involving a new perspective on the franchise.
"You can’t discount the first movie at all -- it was huge, and people loved it -- but for me what I love about Joe is that everybody has interpreted theirs different ways," Chu said. "The comic book interprets it in one way. Even in the cartoon series, they switched theme songs in the middle, and so everybody interprets it in a different way. So for me, I was like, 'Let’s jump to a different part of the Joe world.' It’s the same world, but at a different point. So when I pitched it, that was the idea: Let’s pay homage to the old stuff but also do new stuff. G.I. Joe was ultimate mash-up before mash-up ever existed, so that’s perfect right now. And all the kids who don’t know anything about G.I. Joe -- who only know Call of Duty, who stole all their stuff from G.I. Joe -- let’s reclaim it and do it better."
Part of reclaiming and improving on the Joe franchise included bringing in actors like Johnson, Willis, Adrienne Palicki (Lady Jaye) and D.J. Cortona (Flint). Chu said that getting Willis involved was an interesting process, but well worth it. To the director, Willis represented the classic action stars, while Johnson the best of the current batch of the group.
"It’s months and months of winning his trust, him learning about who I am and learning what the brand is about," Chu said. "And I never really thought it would fully happen until he showed up on set, but he came through and he was awesome. I mean, he exudes the tone of the movie because he’s so cool and he’s so that guy but at the same time doesn’t take himself too seriously. He just gives you that little wink, or whenever he says one line you just get it. So it was fun -- and to have [him and Dwayne Johnson] both next to each other is blowing my mind. They love each other, Bruce and Dwayne. I'm surprised they’ve never been in a movie together, so Bruce, him and then the brand, G.I. Joe, they all just up the ante. No matter what I do in the movie, it already has a specific tone."
Back to focusing on a mostly new batch of Joes, Chu said he wanted to keep this installment accessible to everyone, so there won't be a lot of time explaining away where members from the previous group are. "We address a little bit, but also leave some of it up in the air," Chu said. "But in my mind, the movie was never about them; the movie is about our characters that you introduced from the beginning. We wanted people to come into this movie and, if you haven’t seen the first movie, be totally OK, which is actually pretty tough because Snake Eyes and Storm Shadow are hard to explain to somebody who had never seen G.I. Joe. But we leave some of it open, so you’ll see."
G.I. Joe: Retaliation follows a group of the world's most elite soldiers trying to clear their names and save the country after being seemingly betrayed by a Cobra-controlled White House. The Paramount Pictures film opens June 29.