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Larry Hama has always established that G.I. Joe isn’t necessarily about war, action, ninjas, or gun battle…at its core, it is about the characters.  It is the personality of the characters that keeps them alive and keeps them viable throughout the years.

I would maintain that this remains true in Hollywood as well, and that the translation of these characters into film is equally important for the movie to remain timeless.  After all, we don’t all remember the fantastic Aliens movie because of the gun fights, right?  We remember it because of characters like Hicks, Ripley, and Hudson.  THEY are what made that film, not splattering acid blood all over the place.

So now that things are starting to take shape around G.I. Joe: Retaliation, which characters am I most looking forward to seeing in action?  Let’s break it down after the jump:

10. Zartan

Certainly Zartan plays a large role in this film, and Jonathon Pryce looks pretty awesome.  But let’s face it, at least from everything we’ve seen Zartan remains in the form of the President throughout the majority of the movie at least.  While Pryce is a fantastic actor, he doesn’t necessarily fit the traditional mold of Zartan as I expect, and so he remains #10 on my long list of characters I’m looking forward to seeing.  I think I know what to expect here.

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09. Joe Colton

From every clip, trailer, and TV spot we’ve seen, Joe Colton is pretty much what Bruce Willis has been through the majority of his career.  A subtle action hero with a casual wise-cracking demeanor.  I think that’s a great perspective for Joe Colton, and I am interested to see how they bridge the old school and the Real American Hero gap, but ultimately I don’t think I’m going to see anything here from Joe Colton that I don’t expect.

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08. Jinx

The female ninja and cousin to Storm Shadow (at least in the Real American Hero universe… not sure how she’ll be handled here) Elodie Yung seems like a great addition to this ensemble cast.  I’m very curious to see how they handle the Jinx/Snake Eyes/Storm Shadow dynamic and which side Jinx falls on.  As Jon Chu mentioned in his interview with GeneralsJoes, there didn’t seem to be a whole lot of extra time to tell Jinx’s back story, which is a shame, but I still hope to see some character evolution as the film progresses.

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07. Storm Shadow

Storm Shadow is truly an enigma, and I’m excited to see how the film resolves that.  He’s very conflicted… in the Marvel Universe he is ultimately honorable and was just infiltrating Cobra to serve his revenge.  In the film, there have been shots that seem to indicate he’s joined the G.I. Joe team, but without the infiltration angle, and by looking at some of the footage (“Welcome to Hell”, anyone?) I have a hard time rationalizing Storm Shadow as a good guy in disguise.  Storm Shadow’s evolution throughout the film sequel is a very cool focus point in my mind.

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06. Roadblock

Like Joe Colton, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson’s Roadblock bears some resemblance to many other roles that Johnson has had over the past few years.  A large, muscular, take-no-nonsense tough guy.  What I’m especially looking forward to is how they handle Roadblock’s softer side.  In the comic, Roadblock has a gentle heart and is a gourmet chef, among other things.  We all know Johnson can play a large, well trained bruiser, but how does he handle Roadblock’s “down time”?  That will be a critical component of the success of this character within the confines of the film.

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05. Agent Mouse

Agent Mouse?  What?  Yes, I do find myself looking forward to Agent Mouse, and hoping he’s more than just a 2 second cameo before the explosions start tearing apart the desert.  He apparently has enough of a role to warrant his own unique head sculpt, and he was featured in the latest Lady Jaye featurette as a fellow distinguished marksman. Joseph Mazzello is a great actor, and hopefully lends some personality to this character even if his existence is somewhat short lived.  I love new characters, and I’ll be interested in seeing how this particular one is brought into the G.I. Joe cinematic universe.

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04. Firefly

Ray Stevenson is playing Firefly pretty differently than we’ve seen in other continuities.  Previously a super mysterious international mercenary with ninja clan ties, this version of Firefly seems to come from Texas with a gator skin jacket and a bad attitude.  Rather than using stealth an infiltration, he seems to prefer a heavy hand and iron fist.  Certainly no indications of ties to the Arashikage Ninja clan (probably to many Joe fans’ delight) how Firefly is ultimately used throughout the film is something I’m very much excited for.  Ray Stevenson is a great actor, I think he’ll do awesome things for the Firefly character.

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03. Lady Jaye

As a foil for Flint, Lady Jaye has always worked exceptionally well.  The team “tough guy” and a covert operations specialist who doesn’t mess around, she has always been a fascinating character that many a Joe fan has latched on to.  Her immortal portrayal in the Sunbow cartoon by the talented Mary MacDonald-Lewis will forever define the character, but Adrianne Palicki looks well equipped to follow in her shoes.  Footage and imagery shows a very tough and capable female soldier who isn’t afraid to be right on the front lines with her teammates, regardless of her gender.  That speaks volumes about her.  She also shows her covert operations and disguise side in certain parts of the film as well, sporting a red evening gown apparently attempting to get close to the President.  But by far my favorite scenes of hers are with her in her BDU’s kicking ass and returning gun fire.

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02. Cobra Commander

I suspect that this guy will remain on top of many Joe fans’ lists for who they are most looking forward to seeing.  I was one of the minority of fans who actually didn’t mind the looks of the Rise of Cobra Cobra Commander, but I absolutely hated his backstory.  As Baroness’ brother Rex (are you kidding me?) and Duke’s former best friend, the character failed to ignite any sense of real menace or dictator-like intelligence.  I know this film has to follow the general framework of the first film, and in fact, Jon Chu has stated this Cobra Commander is the same character as previously, but I think they are doing everything they can to “soft reboot” the character and get him back to his more familiar roots.  I welcome the change, and I’m ecstatic with the look and feel I get from the character thus far.  Seeing him in action in the film will be a series of true “geek out” moments to be sure.  The only reason Cobra Commander isn’t #1 on this list is because we sort of already know his back story, which does hold him back at least a little bit.

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01. Flint

Flint is one of my long time favorite characters, and a guy that sometimes gets overlooked in spite of his main focus in the Sunbow animated series.  His border line arrogance, confidence, and intelligence all made for a great combination of character traits.  According to various interviews, it would appear the Retaliation Flint, portrayed by DJ Cotrona, is a bit of a hothead and has issues following orders, which kind of makes sense in my mind when thinking to the beginning of Flint’s career.  This Flint isn’t a Warrant Officer yet according to Chu and I could see his intelligence and arrogance making it tough for him to get along with others.  The addition of his expertise in parkour is fantastic, I think, too.  I have a soft spot for that art of motion-based martial artist, and it’s a very cool new element to Flint’s character.  I’ve loved every video clip I’ve seen of him in action so far.  There have been indications that Flint isn’t necessarily a major role or main character in the film, but I’ve seen enough through various clips and footage to know that I want to see much more of him in the film.  I think he might be one of those characters who isn’t a main focus but who kind of steals the show.  I hope so, anyway.

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I know I left off Snake Eyes and Duke, but frankly, while I am looking forward to seeing how they’re portrayed here, I’m not sure either one will be significantly different from their Rise of Cobra iterations.  G.I. Joe: Retaliation is a true ensemble film with a large cast of really great characters.  I look forward to seeing how they balance out and work off of each other in the film.  Bring it on!