With the news that the Snake Eyes spinoff film will be an origin story for G.I. Joe's resident ninja, it came as no surprise that the man who played him in both live-action films, Ray Park, wouldn't be returning. He was one of the few bright spots in a franchise that was clearly all substance and no style.
Ironically, Paramount Pictures received similar criticism with Michael Bay's Transformers series, but the studio has moved past these problems, fixing things via Travis Knight's Bumblebee solo outing. Knight's film has critics raving thanks to the heart in the story, as well as tons of character development. In other words, Bumblebee has laid the template for Paramount to follow to get G.I. Joe back on track.
Fans and critics agree that Bumblebee excels because it harnesses the magic of the '80s, which is what made Transformers tick. Lovers of the old cartoons and toys are enjoying this nostalgic trip because it has that classic appeal to it. It's not over-modernized like the Bay movies. Not only does Knight's film properly flesh out the fan-favorite Autobot, it does justice to his colleagues and adversaries, like Optimus Prime and the Decepticons.
Bumblebee even gives audiences the War for Cybertron backstory we clamored so long for. What's impressive is Knight also balances the humanity in the movie, making it a soulful story instead of another predictable popcorn flick like Bay directed, filled with crude jokes and explosions galore. Most importantly, Bumblebee acts as a soft reboot and is exactly what Transformers needs to move forward after the disappointment of The Last Knight.
This is the kind of invigoration G.I. Joe requires after The Rise of Cobra and Retaliation. Paramount can map out Snake Eyes' story in the same vein as Bumblebee, using a popular character to wash away the past and provide a course correction. We'll be seeing the ninja on his first missions, which will also highlight how he lost his voice in battle, but that doesn't mean that other G.I. Joe favorites won't figure into the story.
Just like how Optimus and company appeared in Bumblebee, this new adventure can also bring back characters like Duke and Scarlet. The old movies barely developed these heroes, even killing off Channing Tatum's Duke just so Dwayne Johnson's Roadblock could take over. But no one really cared, which is a stark indictment, because Duke is a talismanic figure in G.I. Joe.
Both G.I. Joe flicks so far focused on derivative terrorist plots from the likes of Cobra Commander and Destro, but nothing ever felt faithful to the franchise. These villains had no sense of character to them at all. The Cobra organization didn't come off sinister, and it was hard to connect with anyone -- heroes or villains alike. It wasn't like the Marvel Cinematic Universe, where you're invested in characters like Captain America, Iron Man or Thanos. In Bumblebee, though, Knight manages to achieve this.
This kind of depth will be needed now more than ever, especially because, for a large part of the film, Snake Eyes won't be speaking. By improving on the supporting cast and plot, his origin can actually be the jumping-off point where we see the Joes' formative years and get to truly view them as elite soldiers. This is an opportunity to craft intimidating villains like Cobra, as well as the likes of Storm Shadow and the Arashikage Clan -- something the previous movies just glossed over and tried to establish in a sequence or two.
Ultimately, detailing Snake Eyes' story is a fresh start. Politics and terrorism aside, G.I. Joe stories will need something more so as not to repeat the mistakes of old and come off as generic. This is what Paramount recognized with the Autobots and Decepticons in Bumblebee. So, once the Snake Eyes film goes back to basics and the classic core of G.I. Joe, there's a lot of potential to be mined to make him and his peers finally a unit that's believable as America's Real Heroes.