In England during the 1980s, the American armed-forces cartoon G.I. Joe was renamed Action Force, to help internationalize the characters.
Based on what happens to London in the new trailer for the sequel, G.I. Joe: Retaliation, they won’t be calling it anything there anymore. After the first movie, 2009’s G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra, pulverized Paris and toppled the Eiffel Tower, the second film in the series turns the U.K.’s capital into the world’s biggest bowl of mushy peas, courtesy of a giant space weapon being controlled by a ruthless terrorist organization.
The footage debuted Monday night during Paramount Pictures’ presentation of its upcoming slate at CinemaCon, the annual theater-owner convention in Las Vegas. Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, who is taking over the G.I. Joe sequel from Channing Tatum, was introduced by Retaliation director Jon M. Chu as “franchise Viagra,” for breathing new life into existing series, as he did with The Scorpion King, Fast Five, and the recent Journey 2: The Mysterious Island.
Chu himself is “franchise Viagra” for G.I. Joe, taking over from the previous film’s director, Stephen Sommers (The Mummy, Van Helsing.) While that first film made $302 million worldwide, Paramount Pictures vice president Rob Moore said they felt a sequel needed to be “energized with someone who had a true passion” for the 1980’s after-school cartoons and Marvel comic books that served as a sci-fi renaissance for the Hasbro toyline originally created in the 1960s.
The 32-year-old Chu said, “I grew up with G.I. Joe. I played with all the toys, and I was a little spoiled kid, so I got all my brothers and sisters toys. I would play in the backyard in my sandbox, in the trees, in the couches. And if [a toy’s] arm would break off – even better. The story would get more interesting. I’m convinced this is where I learned to tell stories.”
He may be right about his brutal play style influencing the movie: many of the heroes from the last movie are wiped out in the trailer, with only Johnson’s Roadblock, and two other new characters – D.J. Cotrona’s Flint, and Adrianne Palicki’s Lady Jaye – surviving an attempt to wipe out the team. (Bruce Willis turns up too, as the retired founder of their special ops force.)
Among the other changes: Joseph Gordon-Levitt is no longer playing the silver-masked Cobra Commander, Rome’s Ray Stevenson is portraying the new villain Firefly, and Elodie Yung is playing the blind-fighting ninja Jinx.
G.I. Joe: Retaliation opens June 29.