Who Is Snake Eyes? G.I. Joe Backstory & History Explained


Snake Eyes: G.I. Joe Origins will reboot the story of the eponymous ninja. Here’s what you need to know about the history of the character.

Snake Eyes: G.I. Joe Origins will reboot the eponymous ninja’s storyline for the big screen, and the new movie has a lot of material to pull from in telling the story of Snake Eyes’ past. The character was introduced in the first run of G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero toys in 1982, with accompanying storylines in the cartoon and Marvel Comics series. Through the decades, Snake Eyes has remained one of G.I. Joe’s most popular and recognizable characters.

Due to his naturally mysterious nature and G.I. Joe’s tendency to retcon characters, Snake Eyes’ actual backstory is a bit difficult to nail down. The original character was written as a U.S. Army veteran who fought in multiple campaigns and eventually became a Delta Force operator. However, most iterations of Snake Eyes have revolved around the classified nature of his identity, and as such, details of his life and past have often been hard to come by.

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Of course, some parts of Snake Eyes’ backstory are well documented and consistent through different storylines. The G.I. Joe character was instructed in the art of ninjutsu by the Japanese Arashikage clan, where he developed a close relationship with fellow ninja Storm Shadow – a character who has been a sometimes-rival, sometimes-ally to Snake Eyes through G.I. Joe lore. Snake Eyes is black belt in numerous fighting disciplines, a skilled tactician and military combatant trained in the use of both firearms and bladed weapons, and one of the G.I. Joe organization’s most skilled fighters. He has a canine companion named Timber, usually wears a mask and doesn’t speak – both due to past injuries – and has often had something of a romantic relationship with Scarlett.

Henry Golding stars as Snake Eyes in motion poster.

While these core beats have largely stayed with the Snake Eyes character over the years, their details have frequently changed. In some G.I. Joe storylines, Snake Eyes was a military commando long before he trained with the Arashikage. In others, he was brought into the clan as an orphaned child. The accident that injures his face and vocal cords has also been changed slightly at different times, as has the nature of his relationship with Storm Shadow his feud with Cobra Commander.

The new Snake Eyes movie seems to be changing up the character’s origin story yet again, taking elements from past stories and blending them with some new character details. The changes look promising so far, if for no other reason than the character finally being explicitly of Asian heritage (after historically being portrayed as white). It should be interesting to see how Henry Golding reinvents the role when Snake Eyes: G.I. Joe Origins releases in theaters on July 23.

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  • Snake Eyes: G.I. Joe Origins (2021)Release date: Jul 23, 2021

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