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Tag Archive: Mike Power the Atomic Man


Max Steel

Not to be confused with Steel starring Shaquille O’Neil or Real Steel starring Hugh Jackman, Max Steel is a new “coming of age, family, superhero” movie due in theaters next month.  In a world of big budget superhero movies based on 75-year-old characters like Superman and Batman, how can a relatively unknown superhero compete?

With a new trailer that plays a bit like *batteries not included or Explorers, there may yet be room for a Max Steel.  Is there a young audience being missed by the violence and language of movies like Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice and Deadpool?  Maybe a film for kids with a plot less complicated than Captain America: Civil War?  Or a movie for audiences looking for the next Sky High?

Max Steel is the combination of angsty teenager Max (not Mark) McGrath and Steel–a smart-alecky alien tech robot drone.  Does “organic armor” make Max Steel a new cyborg?  A plus for the character is its source in Mattel’s large-sized action figure line based on the format and marketing of the original, classic 12-inch G.I. Joe action figures, as well as an animated series.  Will that draw in viewers?  Max Steel apparently has a large following in Latin America: While Mattel’s Big Jim 12-inch action figure series died out in the U.S. in before the 1980s, it was thriving there.  Original Max Steel figures wore Big Jim clothes and were packaged with the same accessories.  In the 1970s Big Jim was sold in Latin American countries as Kid Acero, or “Kid Steel”.

Max Steel figure

Will Max Steel usher in the eagerly awaited return of Hasbro’s Mike Power, the Atomic Man?  That would be a fun blast from the past.

Check out this trailer for Mattel’s theatrical release of Max Steel:

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GI Joe banner

Half animated film come to life, half martial arts movie, in G.I. Joe: Retaliation look for one of the best action sequences ever to hit the big screen.  Darker and more grounded in the realities of today’s terrorism themed movies as opposed to the days of action war pictures centered on the Cold War, the sequel to G.I. Joe: Rise of Cobra is only slightly less fun than the first live-action look at the action figure-turned-animated show and comic book-turned-action figure again franchise.  Whereas Rise of Cobra was steeped in toy references and faithful action figure costume re-creations, Retaliation has a plot that could have been pulled from the 1980s animated series.

G.I. JOE: RETALIATION

After a disaster caused by a conspiracy between Zartan and the evil shadow organization called Cobra wipes out literally every active G.I. Joe but three, it’s up to new top ranking officer Roadblock, played by Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson to lead the charge to unravel the conspiracy and save the world.  He’s joined in a superbly created, fast-thinking survival maneuver by Flint (D.J. Cotrona) and Lady Jaye (Adrianne Palicki), who must then find their way out of a deep water well.  Despite being developed characters from G.I. Joe incarnations past, Flint comes off a bit like Hawkeye in The Avengers and Lady Jaye as the token female Joe in an era you’d think would be long past relying on jokes about women in the service.  Still, they both make the best of it and the trio, along with Duke (Channing Tatum), the squad leader of the Joes in Rise of Cobra, they share some good chemistry and laugh out loud moments in the film.  If there is any fault in Retaliation it is why the producers thought the plot required eliminating such a pantheon of other great Joe characters who were featured in Rise of Cobra, like Scarlett (Rachel Nichols), Baroness (Sierra Miller), Ripcord (Marlon Wayans), Heavy Duty (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje), or General Hawk (Dennis Quaid).  It’s also a bit disappointing Bruce Willis’s General Joe Colton didn’t have a few more scenes.  Willis, transitioning from action role to the wise general role, steals every scene and a partnership with Dwayne Johnson in another film, G.I. Joe or not, would be a fun thing to see.

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Bruce Willis as General Joe Colton, founder of team G.I. Joe?  That’s just what the franchise needs to re-ignite interest as we approach the 50th anniversary of the guy that launched the modern action figure.

G.I. Joe has gone through several incarnations since “America’s movable fighting man” was released as a 12-inch action figure by Hasbro in 1964.  He started out as one of four U.S. Service soldiers.  In 1970 with the Vietnam War all over television Hasbro switched gears to Joe as member of the Adventure Team, when the action figure also got “life-like” hair.  (Personally, I had the army soldier with the brown beard and later added the dark-haired soldier without the beard).  Here are 12-inch Joes landing at Comic-Con this year:

In 1974 G.I. Joe got the famous kung fu grip to replace the hard plastic, reversed-hand that had served as Hasbro’s trademark (and was actually used to catch international imports of fake Joes).  He always had a trademark facial scar, too.  Hey, so did Willis in Hart’s War

 

In 1975, to compete with the popular 12-inch Six Million Dollar Man action figure, Hasbro introduced Mike Power, the Atomic Man.  These two characters duked it out on many occasions in living rooms across the country.  The last of the original Joes was released in 1976.  In 1982 G.I. Joe would return in 3 3/4 inch action figures, closer in size to the popular Star Wars action figure line, but with knee and elbow joints.    In 1985 these little G.I. Joe figures were the top selling American toy.  They have been available in varying versions ever since, and between 1991 and 2005 the 12-inch line of figures returned.

Meanwhile between 1980 and 1994 Marvel Comics had a G.I. Joe title that mirrored the action figure line.  In 1985 a cartoon series focused on good (G.I. Joe) vs. evil (Cobra) as opposed to true-life war.  In the cartoon G.I. Joe became synonymous with an early Seal Team Six type of special forces.  This was followed by various animated movies, including many that went direct to video.  In 2009 G.I. Joe finally hit the silver screen in the movie G.I. Joe:  The Rise of Cobra, a good action movie that didn’t take itself too seriously, had a lot of great action, great writing, and–with a lot of references to the original Joe story and toys–was just all-out fun.

So who is Joe Colton?  It wasn’t until the 1980s that the action figures and cartoon characters got their own names, origins, and developed stories.  For decades there never was a single action figure or character named Joe, consistent with the historic reference to the G.I.s as G.I. Joes from years past, derived from an earlier comic strip with no relation to the Hasbro line.  General Joseph B. Colton did not appear as a named character with the early toy line, or with the animated series, but surfaced with the Marvel Comics comic book series, first with Issue 86.  His character is flushed out in later comic book series as the leader of the elite G.I. Joe special forces unit.

Which brings us to the sequel to G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra, titled G.I. Joe: Retaliation.  If Retaliation follows the comic book line, Cobra may have some success against General Hawk, the hero of Rise of Cobra, played solidly by a tough-as-nails Dennis Quaid.  Which leaves a key role for General Joe Colton.  And Bruce Willis is now in discussions to play Colton in Retaliation.  I can’t think of anyone better as an action hero in G.I. Joe.  Even at 56 who better can face an uphill battle, walking barefoot across broken glass if need be, especially against the likes of the evil Cobra?  What more could you want?  Maybe a cameo by Arnold Schwartzenegger and Sylvester Stallone?  Although it is not yet confirmed that Willis has signed on as Joe, the Internet Movie Database lists Willis as the lead.

Already signed up for G.I. Joe: Retaliation, Channing Tatum will return as Captain Duke Hauser, Ray Park (Darth Maul in Star Wars: Episode I) as Snake Eyes and Byung-hun Lee as Storm Shadow.  New characters out of past incarnations that will appear include Dwayne Johnson (fka The Rock) as Roadblock, Adrianne Palicki as Lady Jaye, Joseph Mazzello (the little kid in Jurassic Park!) as Mouse, Arnold Vosloo (Imhotep from The Mummy) as Zartan, Elodie Yung as Jinx, and as D.J. Cotrona as Flint.  But no Scarlett or Baroness??? While you go back to watch Rise of Cobra, in case you haven’t seen it yet, try counting the classic nostalgic catchphrases, like “you have kung fu grip” and “you’re a real American hero.”

Other reasons why Bruce Willis is made for a G.I. Joe role?  He’s already trained for the part:

  

He’s saved American cities four times as Detective John McClane in the Die Hard movies

  

He sleuthed out the bad guy as Detective Sergeant Tom Hardy in Striking Distance

 

Butch Coolidge, son of a war hero who gets his watch back, in Pulp Fiction

   

He saved the whole planet as Korben Dallas in The Fifth Element

    

He saved the world (again) as driller turned Astronaut Harry Stamper in Armageddon

   

And he actually played a soldier as Major General William Devereaux in The Siege

 

and again, as a special ops commander as Lieutenant A.K. Waters in Tears of the Sun

Convinced yet?  Go Joe!  Go Bruce!

C.J. Bunce

Editor

borg.com

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