Lady Jaye on Amazon Prime?
As usual, when G.I. Joe news breaks, LICD fans demand to know what Costello thinks! In theory. Demand may be a strong word. Well whether you demand it or not, you get to know what I think about breaking G.I. Joe news, such as the possibility of Lady Jaye getting her own series on Amazon Prime.
What We Know
During Hasbro’s Investor’s Day presentation, Steve Bertram, President of Film & Television at Hasbro-owned Entertainment One Ltd said “… we just announced a new partnership with Amazon and Paramount Pictures to create an action-packed premium scripted series based on G.I. JOE.”
Almost immediately after, Deadline reported “G.I. Joe Live-Action TV Series Centered On Lady Jaye In The Works At Amazon From Erik Oleson, Paramount TV Studios, eOne & Skydance TV“.
Deadline’s article started strong, declaring “Lady Jaye, the undercover operative in Hasbro’s G.I. Joe universe, is getting the small screen treatment” before following up with a less definitive “Deadline understands that a live-action TV series about the character…is in the works at Amazon.”
At first Deadline’s use of “understands” made me wonder how set in stone the announcement was, until the official G.I. Joe Instagram account shared the article.
Known as an ensemble brand, G.I. Joe media rarely focuses on a single character. The upcoming Snake Eyes movie being an exception that makes sense. Fans often refer to Snake Eyes as G.I. Joe’s Wolverine (both positively and negatively). Snake Eyes was also the only playable character in G.I. Joe’s first app game, and only he and his sword brother and sometimes rival Storm Shadow have stared in comic book miniseries with their names in the title.
Fans don’t expect any G.I. Joe other than Snake Eyes to get a solo project, especially someone outside of the core four (Snake Eyes, Duke, Scarlett, and Roadblock). So why Lady Jaye?
Hero of the Cartoon
One of my favourite bits of G.I. Joe trivia is that Lady Jaye speak more dialog than any other Joe on the original cartoon, and second only to Cobra Commander for most dialog overall.
Sadly, the source of the information seems to have left the Internet. I can say, anecdotally, I remember far more Lady Jaye scenes and episodes than Scarlett, regarded as G.I. Joe’s premiere female character.
Hero of the Comic
Unlike the cartoon, Scarlett was undeniably the original Marvel comic’s premiere female character. However, Lady Jaye also appeared throughout. For a series juggling a cast of hundreds of characters and needing to work more in every year, any character who appeared regularly stood out. Lady Jaye even appeared on a cover six years after her then only toy came out of circulation.
Fall From Prominence
Oddly, Lady Jaye’s importance to G.I. Joe dropped pretty quickly thereafter. She’s appeared in most G.I. Joe action figure lines that used the 80s characters since then, but usually a couple of years into the reboot. She only spoke in one animated series since the 90s, G.I. Joe Renegades. To give you an idea of how important Lady Jaye’s role was to that series, her page on the most comprehensive G.I. Joe wiki is blank.
Lady Jaye boasts two stand out appearances since her 80s heyday: The second G.I. Joe feature film, Retaliation, played by Adrianne Palicki; and the recent G.I. Joe console game, Operation: Blackout. Both memorable turns that handled the character well, but neither saw such fanfare that a direct line from either could be drawn to Lady Jaye getting an Amazon Original series.
Lady Jaye’s lack of exposure benefits the character for this series. As with most Joes, only hints of her history before joining the team made it to the screen or page. As this seems to be a prequel series, that gives showrunner Erik Oleson the sweet spot of recognizable character and blank slate.
However, I expect this series will have familiar elements.
When IDW rebooted G.I. Joe comics in 2012, they announced three series:
- G.I. Joe, a series set in the present in which the G.I. Joe vs Cobra conflict already exists.
- G.I. Joe: Origins, a series set in the main line’s past, about the military discovering the existence of Cobra and forming a counter agency.
- G.I. Joe: Cobra, a series concurrent with the main line’s continuity, about Chuckles infiltrating Cobra.
That last one stands out as more specific and original than the other two. It was also the most popular, critically acclaimed, and influential G.I. Joe series. Not just of the three, but ever. So much so that the original long term plans for the G.I. Joe movies included an adaptation of this comic.
If Lady Jaye comes off as too obscure for her own series, picture a movie staring Chuckles.
Before G.I. Joe: Cobra, Chuckles claim to fame was as a curiosity. The animated G.I. Joe movie made Chuckles gigantic and mute. Featured in several scenes, Chuckles never spoke. Unlike Snake Eyes’ silence, Chuckles’ was never explained or acknowledged.
They also made him huge and powerful. He threw a missile at a tank, and and started a helicopter with his bare hands. The animated rarely gave characters superhuman characteristics. Only Roadblock and Sgt Slaughter had superhuman strength, which was important to their characters.
Neither Chuckles’ strength or silence reflected his toy, filecard, or listed specialty: Undercover operative.
Also a G.I. Joe undercover operative: Lady Jaye. A better known character who fits almost perfectly into the G.I. Joe: Cobra plot. They might revise the romantic subplot with Jinx. Or they might not!
The Bad Guys
One head scratcher about a Lady Jaye series, how would it be a G.I. Joe series and not just another Alias or Nikita? One way would be the adaptation of a familiar storyline, as I suggested. Another would be by bringing in familiar characters. Particularly, familiar Cobras.
Tomax and Xamot
The Crimson Twins are the most famous Cobra characters to not be adopted into live action. Twins feeling each other’s pain may be gimmicky, but as legitimate business owners fronting a terrorist organization, their role in the G.I. Joe mythos remains relevant. Like Chuckles, the G.I. Joe: Cobra comic redeemed anything cartoony about their characterization.
Another memorable villain who missed out on the movies, Major Sebastian Bludd would make an excellent recurring secondary villain or rival Cobra who sees through Lady Jaye’s cover story.
Like Lady Jaye, fans recognize Bludd, but the writers could go anywhere they wanted with him. He’s known for writing bad poetry about war, but not so much so that leaving it out would ruin the character.
In the 90s, G.I. Joe joined the war on drugs with the Drug Elimination Front. Here is the leader of the D.E.F, Bulletproof, being shot by Headman, leader of the evil drug dealing Headhunters.
Bulletproof survived. He’s Bulletproof.
Unlike Bludd and the Crimson Twins, Headman’s not popular. He’s kind of a joke. But he can serve a function. The Lady Jaye series can throw him in as her first hurdle, and the first dot connecting Extensive Enterprises (the Crimson Twins’ legitimate business) with Cobra. Fans will appreciate the obscure nod, without minding if he gets killed off early.
If Lady Jaye features Cobra’s reptile trainer and leather daddy luchador, Croc Master, I will fly to Erik Oleson’s home and shake his hand, quarantine be damned.
My initial reaction mixed skepticism with surprise, but I’ve let my fan boy side get a little excited. If anything, announcing a live action Lady Jaye series caused more discussion than a live action G.I. Joe series announcement.
I wouldn’t have thought a slow burn of solo projects leading to a G.I. Joe cinematic universe was the way to go, but Snake Eyes followed by Lady Jaye makes sense. G.I. Joe is military fantasy with heavy martial arts influence. Having two linked projects introduce those elements separately gives can build to a whole that is stronger than the sum of its parts, and introduce a variety of the key players in the universe.
OK, my fan boy side is more than just a little excited.
Now you know,