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When I was on the set of "G.I. Joe: Retaliation," I had a chance to talk to Jon M. Chu about his approach to the sequel and to the world of "G.I. Joe" in general. While that set visit remains embargoed, probably forever thanks to the post-production convulsions the film is going through, I think it's safe to report that Chu struck me as an '80s kid through and through, sincere about his love of everything involved in a "G.I. Joe" movie.
It's also probably safe to say that any kid who grew up with "G.I. Joe" as a regular part of his diet also was well aware of "He-Man" and "Transformers," the other two corners in the '80s afternoon cartoon pyramid. I was too old for all three, but it seems that they marked the kids who watched them deeply, and at this point, it goes beyond nostalgia. It's just part of their pop culture DNA, and so it makes sense that you'd want an '80s kid to come in to direct "Masters Of The Universe" for Sony and Escape Artist. You want someone who's going to take this seriously, who has a love of the characters and the world already firmly in place, and who can find the right tone for what could easily be straight-up ridiculous.
I was under the impression that He-Man was one of the many characters recently sold to Dreamworks as part of that Classic Media deal, but that may only cover animation. Since Dreamworks paid $155 million to buy that huge catalog of characters, I'm going to bet that they'll put some of those properties into development as animated films. Could we be looking at a situation where two different companies could be gearing up to produce two totally different versions of these characters? Maybe.
There have been several attempts to bring "He-Man" and his dense line-up of toy companions to the bigscreen in recent years, with Justin Marks most notably working on a draft that had some momentary heat at Warner Bros. Right now, Alex Litvak and Mike Finch are the writers struggling to bring Eternia to life, and with Chu attached, it looks like Sony is starting to feel like they've got a film here. Although Chu is involved in a lengthy and difficult post-production on his "G.I. Joe" sequel right now, it appears that Sony is confident enough to move forward with him in charge of the development on this one.
Will He-Man finally be given the big-budget live-action treatment? We'll see. One thing's for sure… Chu would have to suffer a massive head injury and every other person involved would have to suddenly be struck stupid for them to even approach making a film as awful as the 1987 Cannon Films version that starred Dolph Lundgren.
Thankfully, though, we know this isn't a direct remake of that, since that was remade successfully as "Thor."
"G.I. Joe: Retaliation" arrives in theaters March 29, 2013. Hypothetically.