Happy Fourth of July! Be inspired in every way possible by the intro to GI Joe The Movie (1987).
I have a little tradition. Every Fourth of July I head over to YouTube and watch one of greatest pieces of animation ever created, the intro to 1987’s masterpiece, GI Joe The Movie. Before I write anything else, you need to experience it.
Majestic, isn’t it? From the sparklers that give the GI Joe logo an update, to the amazing, amazing theme song, this intro is letting you know the stakes have been raised. This animation is the best of generation. I mean, how did they even do that sparkler effect? It’s dynamic and intense, with so, so much going on in every frame.
Balloons, fireworks, and the goddamned Statue of Liberty with the original glass flame. The stage is set for chaos, and there, Cobra flies in. Their plan? Destroy Lady Liberty on her birthday!
Most people forget this part. It was the centennial anniversary of the Statue of Liberty in 1986, when this movie was supposed to come out. It was delayed due to…delays. Subsequently, a sort of patriotic fever, underpinned by latter-day Cold War propaganda, gripped the nation. The Statue of Liberty was everywhere. On coins, in schools, on TV. And of course, center stage at the beginning of GI Joe The Movie.Oh, and the opening shot from The Force Awakens? GI Joe did it first.
A Cobra soldier PUNCHES THE CAMERA, as if you were really watching this on TV up until this moment. The threat is real, and this symbol of freedom is under siege. The music sounds dire. Up until this point, you’d think you were hearing the theme song to Cobra, not GI Joe.
Oh but wait! When all is seemingly lost, G.I. Joe arrive on jetpacks. ON JETPACKS.
I mean, if I keep on doing this, I’m just going to screenshot every moment. It’s just an absolutely amazing mini-movie and everything good about G.I. Joe, the Fourth of July, the Statue of Liberty, and America. The animation is just spectacular. Every time a laser is shot, the shot flickers just a little bit from the laser blast. It’s a sense of realism I’ve never seen before or after in animation.
Oh yeah, and just about every character is featured, too. I’m not sure how they managed to get in every single character from series one, as well as all of the vehicles, but they’re all there.
But the best part is the climax, where Duke himself grabs Cobra’s bomb, flied up to their helicarrier, and singlehandedly blows up the ship. Cobra retreats, and before Duke even pauses for a moment, grabs the stars and stripes and flies it to the top of the Statue of Liberty as every other GI Joe joins him there. I’m overstimulated from just describing it an want to punch fireworks in the face. Hot damn, if ths isn’t the most patriotic thing ever, I don’t know what is.
Anyway, the rest of the movie is awesome too. Happy Fourth of July, everyone!
Joseph Tavano is the owner and editor in chief of RetroZap. Born just months before Luke found out who his father was, he has been fortunate to have had Star Wars in his life as long as he can remember. Growing up just outside of Boston, Massachusetts, he can remember substituting sticks for lightsabers and BMX bikes for speeders. He loves comics, retro games, vintage sci-fi paperbacks, and maps. Though an accomplished drummer, he doesn’t crave adventure (as much) any more, and prefers his old haunts in Salem, Massachusetts, where he resides with his family. Buy him a glass of whiskey and he’ll return it in kind.