The first time we were introduced to the G.I. Joes on television was way back in 1985. Back then they were constantly facing off against Cobra, a theme that follows into modern times. With the popularity of G.I. Joes as action figures, it is no surprise to see how man reincarnations of G.I. Joe cartoons and movie there have been. Let’s take a look back on the evolution of G.I. Joe in movies and television.
G.I. Joe in 1985
The first G.I. Joe cartoon was released in 1985 by Marvel and Sunbow Productions. Marvel’s G.I. Joe comic book had been doing pretty well, so the cartoon was the next logical step. This first reincarnation was definitely aimed towards younger kids to try and convince them to buy more G.I. Joe action figures. This could also be said for pretty much every Saturday morning cartoon, I’m not judging. What this first G.I. Joe series really brought us were those oh so informative PSAs at the end of each episode. One of the Joes would teach a group of kids something about life and finish things off by saying, “And knowing is half the battle”. This first cartoon ran until 1987 when Sunbow pulled the plug.
The First G.I. Joe Movie
The first animated G.I. Joe movie came out in 1987, right around the time that the cartoon was canceled. G.I. Joe: The Movie was originally intended to be released in theaters, along with a Transformers movie and a My Little Pony movie. The Transformers movie and My Little Pony movie were released first and flopped big time, so the G.I. Joe movie was switched from a theatrical release to a straight to video release. The interesting part of the movie was that they originally killed Duke off. It was later decided to edit that part out and simply say Duke was in a coma to protect the fragile little minds of children everywhere.
The Second Cartoon
Despite selling a crapload of G.I. Joe action figures, nobody picked up the G.I. Joe cartoon series for a while after Sunbow dropped theirs. In 1989 DiC Entertainment contacted Hasbro for permission to continue the G.I. Joe series started by Marvel and Hasbro. Permission was granted and we got to see another 2 seasons of the Joes facing off against Cobra. DiC kept the same approach as Marvel and Sunbow had, but began to focus episodes on specific new characters. DiC’s series went on until 1991.
The Other Cartoons
After Dic’s series, the Joes ran into some hard times as far as their cartoons were concerned. G.I. Joe Extreme ran for 2 seasons from 1995 to 1997 and was based off a new line of G.I. Joe action figures. Extreme never really built up much of a following. In 2003 and 2004 we saw the direct to DVD movies G.I. Joe: Spy Troops and G.I. Joe: Valor Vs. Venom. Once again these latest G.I. Joe projects were widely ignored. Things got the lowest in 2005 with G.I. Joe: Sigma 6. It was canceled before all 26 episodes were aired in the US. Then came a shining beacon of hope. G.I. Joe: Resolute came and showed us that the Joes could grow and change with the original viewers. Written by Warren Ellis, the G.I. Joe: Resolute series no longer had the Cobra Commandos as inept troops with terrible aim. Both Cobra Commandos and Joes got shot, stabbed, and otherwise killed throughout this series that was by far the darkest incarnation of G.I. Joe that we have seen. It was also the most entertaining series we have seen for a long time.
And then things went downhill again. G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra was supposed to capitalize on the success of the Transformers movie, but then they cast Channing Tatum as Duke and produced an extremely sub-par movie. Not even Dennis Quaid could save the movie. On the plus side, Sienna Miller was super hot as the Baroness. She almost made the movie worth the ticket price. Almost. There hasn’t been much talk about doing another G.I. Joe movie like this one, but if there is a new one we can only hope it follows G.I. Joe: Resolute and decides to kick an enormous amount of ass. We’ve grown up and we like it when our cartoons do too.