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Cast & Characters
What sets "G.I. JOE: The Rise of Cobra” apart from other movies derived from comic books is the fact that G.I. JOE is a team, comprised of a number of complex characters, each with his or her own qualities and back story. "I know that quite a few comic books have been turned into films, but I think this stands out. It has an entire band of elite specialists, all of whom are heroes, not just one hero facing his demons. There's also this great group of bad guys, so it becomes this very primal fight of good versus evil, G.I. JOE versus COBRA,” notes screenwriter Beattie.

Particularly appealing is the sense of camaraderie among the G.I. JOE team members, another quality often missing from other comic book films. "It's a huge part of who G.I. JOE is,” says Beattie. 

A major part of the G.I. JOE mythology is the many characters' intertwined back stories, which are slowly revealed. "The spine of the movie is really four sets of relationships that you follow throughout the film, as opposed to just these characters as a simple team,” explains producer Lorenzo di Bonaventura. "There's so much intertwining between the villains and the good guys and even within the good guys, there's a lot of shared history that goes on.” 

The same is true for the villains, Beattie notes. "It's a group of bad guys who are always fighting each other and trying to get ahead while taking on the G.I. JOE team.”

For its cast, Sommers and di Bonaventura stuck close to the comic book in creating a multinational team. "We really wanted to create a cast that was as much of a polyglot as possible, and create a camaraderie amongst them that could be discernible onscreen,” he says. Again, the fans would expect nothing less. "We wanted to be true to its origins,” says Brian Goldner. "Those characters were always very colorful and multinational, and you got the sense that wherever trouble was, the G.I. JOE team was there. They were up against a force, COBRA, that was everywhere.”

The multinational makeup of the characters was appealing to the actors, as well. "G.I. JOE always broke down those national boundaries and just said, 'It's not about one country against another country. It's about good guys against bad guys,'” notes Joseph Gordon-Levitt, who plays Rex in the film. 

At the core of the public consciousness of G.I. JOE, though, is an image of a virile, rugged American soldier, like the original 12” action figure, who appears in the film in the form of the DUKE character. "DUKE embodies a lot of the values of our military in a big way,” says executive producer Erik Howsam. "He is a guy who's incredibly loyal to his friends, who will do anything for them. He'll do anything for his country. He's a born leader.” 

DUKE is far from the one-dimensional fighting machine, however. "He reminds me of some of the John Wayne or Clint Eastwood characters I grew up with,” notes di Bonaventura. "He's a man of few words, yet very complex. He loves very deeply, and cares deeply about his friendships and is not afraid to be vocal about them.”

As the character at the core of the G.I. JOE team, the audience more or less experiences the journey through DUKE. "He'll never back down,” explains Goldner. "That's what causes him to be brought along, and, through his eyes, the audience gets to see what being part of the G.I. JOE team is all about.” Adds Beattie, "He becomes our eyes into the G.I. JOE world.”

To step into DUKE's combat boots, the filmmakers tapped star-on-the-rise Channing Tatum, whose good looks and physical stature made him a natural to portray the heroic Special Forces soldier-turned-G.I. JOE.

Di Bonaventura comments, "Channing Tatum is DUKE. Just like DUKE, the girls will fall in love with him and the boys will want to be him.” Adds Howsam, "Not only does he look the part, but he also embodies a lot of those values h

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