The ’80s were, hands down, the best time for cartoons. Between Thundercats, Masters of the Universe, G.I. Joe, Transformers, and a plethora of other cartoons that are too numerous to mention here, the ’80s were the absolute best decade for highly imaginative and brilliant cartoons that captured the hearts and minds of kids everywhere.
Of course, everyone had their favorites back in the day. I was never really into Transformers, but anyone who really knows me knows that Masters of the Universe was my go-to show. Hands down, I loved He-Man more than any other kid. I had nearly all of the action figures, and the Dolph Lundgren film was frequently rented from my local video store (and it still stands as a favorite movie of mine if only for the perfect portrayal of Skeletor by Frank Langella).
A very close second favorite cartoon was G.I. Joe. The main cartoon was okay, but I watched the animated movie until the tape finally wore out. Though many criticize the film for shifting from a spy thriller to a science fiction drama, I didn’t really know any better, and after going back and rewatching old episodes, I actually prefer all of the weird changes that the movie made.
More than anything, I think ’80s cartoons are a testament to the beauty that is the imagination of a child. As an adult, I’ve gone back and watched old episodes of He-man only to be disappointed by the repetitive animation, the hokey plots, and the lack of any real action. Even the cartoons are the same, as a kid, I saw He-man carry his sword and I filled in the blanks that he actually used it. As an adult,I only notice how much he doesn’t ever use the sword for anything.
This mindset of elevating cartoons by ignoring the more ridiculous aspects isn’t exclusive to ’80s cartoons, however. After all, how many children under ten swore up and down that Adam West’s Batman was a serious show about the Dark Knight?
It’s as if the essence of these cartoons exists outside of the actual shows that were presented. The real, true essence of these shows – everything that they could be – exists as seeds in the minds of the children and as we have grown, so have those ideas along with us. So, as I have grown older, my ideas of He-man have evolved into grown up sensibilities and all of the ridiculous elements have been edited from my mind. Even though I know that the truth is that the show was a kids show meant to teach life lessons to children, my adult self views the cartoon as a cosmic space opera and a perfect mixture of sci-fi and fantasy.
While ’80s properties being repurposed today isn’t anything new, it’s exceptionally rare for them to be done in an adult manner for adults because the average adult doesn’t want to watch adult cartoon versions of their favorite heroes from the ’80s. Yet, G.I. Joe: Resolute exists and it is absolutely perfect in every way.
Resolute may exist outside of traditional G.I. Joe continuity, but given that there are so many different versions of that continuity, it doesn’t really matter. None of the characters in G.I. Joe are particularly developed outside of perhaps Snake Eyes (everyone’s favorite Joe no matter what anyone says), but that’s okay because a team of government agents that are experts in their respective fields doesn’t need to be much more than advertised because at its core, G.I. Joe is just inherently cool. Great character designs, vehicle designs, and adolescent power fantasies make for great television.
Conceived as eleven short episodes to be distributed online and on Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim, Resolute was drawn in an anime style that looks crisp and cinematic. Fights are fast, frantic, and they are choreographed the way I imagined they had always been in my head ever since I was little. In short, the action is perfect.
This is in no small part due to the fact that it was scripted by famed comics writer Warren Ellis. While Ellis wasn’t necessarily familiar with G.I. Joe prior to beginning work on the project, Ellis had made a career on over the top science action already so he was more than qualified for the job. After all, what is Global Frequency other than a reimagining of the G.I. Joe concept without any governmental ties?
Resolute begins with Cobra Commander sending a message to the United Nations where he says, “I have always believed that money brings power. this was an error that has cost me a lot of pain. It recently occurred to me, however, that if I had all the power that everyone would bring me all the money. I therefore make the following proposition; you have 24 hours to turn control of your nations over to me or I begin killing nations . . .” Instead of settling for idle threats, Cobra Commander decides to destroy Moscow to show that he isn’t messing around.
While past iterations of Cobra Commander have been cowardly, this Commander isn’t messing around. His voice still echoes the old Cobra Commander, but it sounds far more menacing and his charisma makes it obvious why he deserves the title of “commander.” But Cobra Commander isn’t the only one to benefit from the more adult cartoon.
While Snake Eyes has always been everyone’s favorite part of G.I. Joe, he didn’t really do much in the original cartoon. The second installment of Resolute features Snake Eyes infiltrating a Cobra base while murdering Cobra soldiers along the way. Hands down, it’s the coolest sequence of the entire show.
Resolute is short, but there are some nice character moments as well. Scarlet has always been torn between Duke and Snake Eyes and her emotional conflict manifests in some heavily loaded dialogue that will leave a smile on your face and the new female Dialtone’s promotion maybe short, but it feels meaningful.
Sure, the voice acting is divided up between a small cast, but its such a small complaint within the context of how much is achieved. Considering that Resolute was conceived as a small internet project, it is able to convey a powerful action adventure film that completely satisfies. Its existence is made all the more poignant by the fact that it came out just before the live action film, and it completely and totally eclipses it. If you haven’t watched it, make sure you check it out on YouTube.