Why Snakes Eyes Was Doomed To Fail From The Beginning

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past couple of days, Snakes Eyes had a dismal opening in the box office, coming in second place with a $13.4 behind M. Night Shyamalan’s Old, which also was a low box office number with $16.9 million. This should’ve been an easy win for the G.I. Joe film, with G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra and G.I. Joe: Retaliation opening with a respective $54 and $40 million during their first weekends and finished off with 300 plus million.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t appear that Snake Eyes will even come close to finishing off its box office run with 300 million-plus. So, what happened? Of course, the pandemic did play a part in the low box office number. The economy is still recovering from COVID-19 and there hasn’t been a billion-dollar film in nearly two years. Still, given the fact that movies such as F9 ($70 million), Black Widow ($87 million), and A Quiet Place Part II ($47 million) had massive weekend openings that proved that audiences are willing to go to the theaters for the right film. However, if I’m being honest, Snake Eyes was doomed even before Henry Golding was announced as the title character for the lead role.

Let’s revisit the history of the G.I. Joe property, with the comics first dropping in the early 1950s; however, the character of Snake Eyes wasn’t introduced until 1982, under the G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero #1 issue. The backstory of the character was revealed in G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero #26 where his face was severely burned and damaged his vocal cords in a helicopter explosion as the commando was serving in one of his first missions with the Joes. One of the biggest characteristics of Snake Eyes is that he always wears his helmet and is a silent badass. Normally, Snake Eyes was a Caucasian male, which Henry Golding and a majority of the live-action cast are not.

Granted it isn’t the first time that movies have changed the race of a comic book character. Some notable examples are Michael B. Jordan playing Johnny Storm in the failed 2015 reboot of Fantastic Four or Anna Diop currently portraying Starfire in the Titans television show. It’s been clear that Hollywood has been looking to add more representation in their films, which is long overdue; however, it’s been noticeable that many fans haven’t been too thrilled over Hollywood’s decision to cast an actor of a different race when the film industry continues to ignore giving diverse characters such as Silk, Dr. Light, or Sunfire the spotlight that they deserve.

However, the core issue for many isn’t that Henry Golding is an Asian dude playing a white guy’s role, the main problem is that Snake Eyes wasn’t Snake Eyes. As previously stated, the G.I. Joe character was severely burned and his vocal cords were damaged in a helicopter explosion, thus rendering him silent and deformed, yet during the trailers, it was clear that this vital trait of the popular character was abandoned as Golding’s face was perfectly fine and his helmet was off for a good majority of the film. Doing this took away a huge mystique of the overall well-known character, and it doesn’t help that Snake Eyes was a huge jerk in the film. Let me make this clear, the failure of Snake Eyes has nothing to do with Henry Golding or the entire cast. Golding and company did the best that they could do with the script that they were given; however, everyone was doomed from the start because the writers betrayed the comics and decided to venture into their own story.

Granted, changes from a comic book adaption are nothing new. In fact, writer/director Todd Phillips made it known that his movie Joker was not straight from the comics. However, the reason that movie is mostly loved was due to Joker’s personality and characteristics remaining intact. Imagine if Joker wasn’t the insane lunatic that fans didn’t know and love; That film would’ve been trashed by fans of the legendary character because what made the Batman villain unique was no longer present. The writers deciding to change course and take away what made Snake Eyes a special character was the moment this movie was doomed. Snake Eyes wasn’t some pretty boy with excellent fighting skills. You can argue that Bruce Wayne, Clark Kent, or Captain America have the role filed. Hell, you can argue that many of the male action heroes have that role filled. Snake Eyes was a physically and emotionally damaged soul whose tragic past fueled his future, which is something the writers should’ve tapped into from the beginning. I do understand that writing a silent protagonist is extremely hard to do. In fact, having Snake Eyes wearing his helmet during the entire film would’ve taken away his personality and potential character development that the lead has to go through in every film. Maybe the G.I. Joe character isn’t meant to be a lead character. However, one thing’s for certain, turning him into a generic action hero was the biggest mistake the writer’s made.

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