Larry Hama Still Insists He Always Wanted GI Joe’s Snake Eyes to be Asian


In another interview Larry Hama gave to  Inverse, he continued to toe a politically correct line about what he really wanted Snake Eyes to be like when he first developed the GI Joe comic series and toys nearly 40 years ago:


Hama drew upon his own lived experiences as a U.S. Army veteran and the uncanny imagination he’d honed at Marvel Comics to usher in a new era of G.I. Joe. In issue 26, published in 1984, Hama penned an origin story for the mysterious, black-clad agent “Snake Eyes,” who’s revealed to be an American soldier trained as a ninja in Japan.

Even back then, Hama had reservations. As Hama tells Inverse, he’s always believed Snake Eyes should have been a character of Asian descent.

“I didn’t like the fact that the only Asian character [in G.I. Joe] was a bad guy,” Hama says, referencing Snake Eyes’ rival and Cobra Command agent Storm Shadow. “In the back of my head, I always wanted Snake Eyes to be Asian. That wasn’t in the cards.”

In 2021, Hama has seen the franchise course-correct with Snake Eyes: G.I. Joe Origins, a franchise reboot movie starring the half-English, half-Malaysian heartthrob Henry Golding in the title role.

A movie which, again, was a critical/financial failure. By the way, if an Asian hero was such a big deal to him, how come he didn’t try to create another cast member without a mask, and use some creative muscle to make sure he got to that point?



Actually, he did do something like that with Storm Shadow, as explained here:


When they brought in Storm Shadow, I resolved to change him into a good guy over the course of the next year. I didn’t tell Hasbro or Marvel. I just went ahead and did it. It was fait accompli. I think that adds to the dimension of the relationship between the two. They started out as brothers and became estranged and then found each other again. The movie narrative changes that around, but they still went with the central theme of brotherhood, betrayal, redemption, and making things right again. I’m happy with that.

But is he happy with the result of the screenplay, or, does he simply not have the courage to say he’s disappointed with the artistic results?


Snake Eyes Film Bombs: Is the GI Joe Franchise Dead?

As they point out at the end:


Snake Eyes: G.I. Joe Origins struggled at the box office. Do you think there’s still a chance for more G.I. Joe movies in the future?

That’s inside baseball to me. You just can’t predict what’s going to happen. But who knows? I’m always optimistic.

I thought it was amazing they came around and thought, “Let’s try this again and concentrate on Snake Eyes.” Public attitude has changed. Now we can do tentpole movies with an Asian lead. I don’t think the franchise is dead in the water. I think there are enough people out there that still want a good version [of G.I. Joe], that’s been proven on other franchises. Look at Dune. How many times have they remade that? Maybe, finally, they’ll get it right.

Well they didn’t with GI Joe, because political correctness was forced into the narratives early on, and it ruined everything. We’re living in an era where pro-American viewpoints have become taboo, and GI Joe was a victim of that. What if tomorrow, we discover Hama decides to abandon “A Real American Hero” as a subtitle because wokeness becomes a big deal to him, despite how it’s serviced artistic ruin on many pop culture products pretty quickly? If that happens, and it’s entirely possible, regrettably, even the comic franchise now run by IDW could soon become a train wreck, and it certainly got that way when Aubrey Sitterson was doing some of the writing on alternate universe titles.


See Also Positive Diversity: IDW’s GI Joe Introduces First Filipino Team Member

Maybe the most annoying part is how Hama may think the only kind of character he can make cool is the one with the masked outfit, and not one who doesn’t wear a mask. That’s easily one of the biggest mistakes you can make when you’re dealing with a medium where meritocracy should be the name of the game, not merely what kind of outfits and weapons the protagonists use.


Originally published here.

Avi Green

Avi Green was born in Pennsylvania in 1974, and moved to Israel in 1983. He enjoyed reading comics when he was young, the first being Fantastic Four. He maintains a strong belief in the public's right to knowledge and accuracy of facts. He considers himself a conservative-style version of Clark Kent. Follow him on his blog at Four Color Media Monitor or on Twitter at @avigreen1