The cinematic “G.I. Joe” franchise has been languishing for the better part of a decade now, but if there’s one guy who can rescue it, it’s the deadly, black-garbed, silent ninja known as Snake Eyes. The mysterious character has been the property’s most popular since it was reintroduced in its modern form in the 1980s — and while the two previously released “G.I. Joe” movies have been a mixed bag, Snake Eyes has retained every bit of his enigmatic awesomeness on the big screen.
In 2010’s “G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra” and 2013’s Snake Eyes: G.I. Joe Origins the Scottish martial artist Ray Park played Snake Eyes, whose face has never been seen within Hasbro’s media franchise. Although Park never showed his mug in either of those movies, you likely recognize his name — and for good reason: He’s the man who gave ferocious, predatory life to Darth Maul in “Star Wars: The Phantom Menace.” Since Snake Eyes is canonically Asian, Park won’t be returning for the solo film — because this time, the ninja will finally be unmasked in a story that will detail the origin of the coolest character you (or maybe your big brother) ever pretended to be when you were a kid.
The first bit of news about the “Snake Eyes” movie that the public heard came out over three years ago, way back in May 2018. At the time, the Hollywood Reporter confirmed that Paramount Pictures had put into development a “G.I. Joe” spin-off film centered around Snake Eyes, tapping the live-action “Beauty and the Beast” movie screenwriter Evan Spiliotopoulos to pen the script and Brian Goldner to produce. The outlet also noted that executives at Paramount and Hasbro had been keen on rebooting the “G.I. Joe” franchise, and “in the last few years have assembled writers rooms to generate movie ideas.” By all accounts, the “Snake Eyes” solo flick was one such idea.
Things were relatively quiet on the “Snake Eyes” front until December 2018, when Robert Schwentke signed on as the film’s director (via the Hollywood Reporter). Audiences will know Schwentke as the director behind movies like “The Time Traveler’s Wife,” “R.I.P.D.,” “The Divergent Series: Insurgent,” and “The Divergent Series: Allegiant.” A few days after that announcement, “G.I. Joe” franchise producer Lorenzo di Bonaventura confirmed with Slashfilm that Ray Park “probably” wasn’t playing the title character in the upcoming movie. He explained, “We are going to the origin story. As you know in the comic book, you saw his face. And it is, I’ll say, the formation of a hero. So you’ve got to see somebody and it can’t be Ray’s age, unfortunately.”
It wasn’t until mid-2019 that the “Snake Eyes: G.I. Joe Origins” cast started to come together, and a few more months after that before the movie kicked off production.
So, if Ray Park isn’t Snake Eyes, then who is? That’d be Malaysian English actor Henry Golding, whose performance as Nick Young in the beloved romantic comedy “Crazy Rich Asians” has led to roles in the feature films “A Simple Favor,” “Monsoon,” “Last Christmas,” and “The Gentlemen.” Through “Snake Eyes: G.I. Joe Origins,” the talented actor will be taking on his first leading role in an action movie, and he has a heck of a supporting cast surrounding him.
“Snake Eyes” also stars “Ready or Not” and “Bill & Ted Face the Music” actress Samara Weaving as Scarlett, a fierce G.I. Joe agent who also works for Clan Arashikage; “Money Heist” star Úrsula Corberó as the Baroness, a member of the terrorist organization Cobra; Peter Mensah of “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” fame as Clan Arashikage’s co-leader Blind Master; Andrew Koji of the excellent Cinemax series “Warrior” as Snake Eyes’ friend-turned-deadly-nemesis Storm Shadow, who’s normally Snake Eyes’ blood brother in other “G.I. Joe” works; and Haruka Abe as Akiko, a Clan Arashikage trainee with connections to Snake Eyes and Storm Shadow.
Rounding out the cast of “Snake Eyes” are Iko Uwais as Storm Shadow’s uncle Hard Master, who leads Clan Arashikage; Takehiro Hira as Cobra member Kenta; and Steven Allerick in an unknown role.