'G.I. Joe: Retaliation' Heroes Get 'Grittier,' Stars Reveal

Director Jon M. Chu, Dwayne Johnson, Adrianne Palicki and D.J. Cotrona tell MTV News about returning series to its roots.

Die-hard fans of America's highly trained special missions force can rest assured that the man behind "G.I. Joe: Retaliation" is on their side. Director Jon M. Chu was a surprise pick to lead the next installment in the G.I. Joe franchise (he's best known for dance films like "Step Up 2: The Streets" and "Step Up 3D"). But the director's passion for the source material no doubt helped him secure the gig, and his knack for staging elaborate choreography can be seen during the trailer's heart-stopping mountainside fight between the ninja factions of G.I. Joe and Cobra, a ruthless terrorist organization determined to rule the world.

And that battle's grittiness is exactly what we can expect from the film's decidedly different take on the Joe mythos, the members of the G.I. Joe unit told MTV News, contrasting "Retaliation" to 2009's "G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra."

"The first one's fun," admitted D. J. Cotrona, who fights alongside the Joes as Flint. "It's sci-fi and goes a little camp in some areas, but Jon is a huge G.I. Joe fan, and I am, and [producer] Lorenzo [Di Bonaventura]. We wanted to focus and make this movie feel grittier and like the G.I. Joe movie that the fans always wanted to see."

The first G.I. Joe film was met with a tepid response from Joe fanatics, despite being a box-office success. The film eschewed faithful adaptations of iconic characters like the Baroness and Cobra Commander in favor of interconnected plot lines, ensuring that every principal characters' backstory interwove for extra drama. Don't expect that to be the sequel's battle plan, though.

"It's a much different movie," said Adrianne Palicki, who enlists with the Joes as Lady Jaye. "It's a very different movie."

Chu immediately set out to make sure that "G.I. Joe: Retaliation" features moments that are unmistakably G.I. Joe. "Cobra taking over the White House was one of those moments," he excitedly told MTV News. "We have to have those [Cobra] flags going up [over the White House]. We have to have Cobra Commander in that silver mask. We have to have Cobra infiltrating our society. That's what I loved as a kid."

"G.I. Joe" clip reignites excitement in "Retaliation!"

The tonal shift between the more fantastical "Rise of Cobra" and the grittier "Retaliation" is not surprising considering that reinvention is as essential to G.I. Joe as heavy artillery. "The wonderful thing about G.I. Joe is that there have been so many iterations," said Cotrona. "The Larry Hama [Marvel Comics] stuff to the IDW comics now, to the movies. Reinvention is a thing that happens with this franchise more than any other."

"It comes in a long line of reinventions of G.I. Joe," seconded Chu. "It's a tradition of G.I. Joe to be reinvented, so to be a part of that tradition was an honor."

Palicki and Cotrona are newcomers to the franchise, joining up with the returning Channing Tatum (Duke) and Ray Park (Snake Eyes). Two action movie heavy-hitters round out the cast: Dwayne Johnson (Roadblock) and Bruce Willis (General Joe Colton).

And with a solid cast and a heavily invested crew, Johnson said the state of the action film is healthy coming into 2013.

"There are a lot of great action movies out there, from 'Skyfall' to 'The Avengers,' so we're always competing," Johnson said. "You always want to raise the bar; you always want to do good."

Do you think "G.I. Joe: Retaliation" will give fans what they've been waiting for? Let us know in the comments!

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