The Story Behind 'Snake Eyes: G.I. Joe Origins': A Deep Dive into the Characters
A look into the characters who make up the new film, including Scarlett, Storm Shadow and the Baroness
Published Jul 16, 2021Maybe you played with G.I. Joe toys as a kid, or perhaps you watched the '80s cartoons. Or, if you came to the franchise in more recent years, maybe you were introduced to the characters through the more recent film franchise from Paramount Pictures. The latest chapter in this long-running institution, Snake Eyes: G.I. Joe Origins by director Robert Schwentke, arrives on July 23, starring Henry Golding in the title role.
With such a long legacy preceding the film, we're taking a deep dive into the background of the characters and the events that set the scene for this gripping origin story.
This masked member of the G.I. Joe Team has been part of the universe since the very beginning. He was one of the original action figures in the Hasbro line of toys way back in 1982, when he was a mysterious figure whose name and place of origin were classified. He adopted a pet wolf during his time in seclusion, and remained masked and voiceless due to injuries sustained in a helicopter crash.
Snake Eyes' character was given a new dimension in 2009 for the film G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra. Played by Ray Park, he was portrayed as a ninja who trained in the Arashikage Clan and, following the murder of his mentor, the Hard Master, took a vow of silence. His quest to avenge the Hard Master continued into 2013's G.I. Joe: Retaliation.
Now, in the standalone Snake Eyes film, we dip into the origins of the character. Portrayed by Henry Golding, Snake Eyes trains with the Arashikage Clan and delves into the secrets of his past while setting out on the path to become the G.I. Joe hero we know and love.
Another origin member of the G.I. Joe squad from the 1982 toy release, Scarlett — real name Shana M. O'Hara — is an Atlanta-born counterintelligence specialist skilled in martial arts and often depicted with red hair and a crossbow. She was the only woman in the original G.I. Joe line of toys.
Rachel Nichols portrayed Scarlett in 2009's G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra, in which she acted as part of a rescue team and collaborated with Snake Eyes to infiltrate the secret base of villainous Cobra weapons maker McCullen.
In Snake Eyes, Samara Weaving has taken on the role of Scarlett, and she acts as a close associate of Snake Eyes.
In the G.I. Joe universe, all conflicts lead back to Cobra, a terrorist organization led by the evil supreme leader Cobra Commander. Although Cobra Commander isn't listed in the credits of Snake Eyes, some of his closest associates are — including the man who will eventually go on to become the leader's ninja bodyguard, Storm Shadow.
The fighter, whose real name is Thomas "Tommy" Arashikage, has straddled the good and evil sides of the G.I. Joe universe. He was originally made as a Cobra toy in 1984, but by the subsequent toys made in 1988, he had defected and become a member of G.I. Joe.
His journey through the live-action cinematic universe has been similarly complex. Portrayed by Lee Byung-hun in 2009's G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra, he was a Korean-born/Japan-trained ninja accused of murdering his uncle, the Hard Master. The leads to a bitter rivalry with Snake Eyes, culminating in Snake Eyes stabbing Storm Shadow at the end of the film — but it's revealed in 2013's G.I. Joe: Retaliation that he was actually framed for the Hard Master's murder. He then leaves Cobra and joins forces with the G.I. Joe Team to successfully avenge the Hard Master.
With Andrew Koji taking over the role in Snake Eyes, we'll go back to the origins of Storm Shadow's winding journey, as we see him as the heir to the Arashikage Clan and a close ally of Snake Eyes during training.
As Cobra's Director of Intelligence, the Baroness is one of the leading nemeses in the G.I. Joe universe. In the franchise's early days, she was romantically involved with the terrorist organization's weapons manufacturer, Destro. She began as a student activist before becoming an international terrorist and an expert in cryptography, psychological and chemical warfare, and numerous weapons.
Her backstory took on new nuances in 2009's G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra. Portrayed by Sienna Miller, Ana Lewis was the fiancée of G.I. Joe Team member Duke before being brainwashed and joining Cobra. Ultimately, she was deprogrammed and reunited with Duke. Úrsula Corberó takes over in the role in Snake Eyes — and it appears that the film flashes back to her days with Cobra.
Check out the intense, action-packed trailer for Snake Eyes below, and catch it in theatres starting July 23. Enter Exclaim!'s contest for a chance to win passes to the film.