It’s been a long time since GI Joe was kinda sorta maybe possibly a part of the Marvel Universe. GI Joe is a Hasbro IP, but Marvel had the license to do the comics in the 80s. During that time, it was illegal to advertise your toy brand during your cartoon, so the hugely popular GI Joe cartoon advertised the comic book instead, making the Larry Hama written comic a #1 seller during its heyday.
The GI Joes comics then served as fantastic advertising for the toys, of course, creating a virtuous marketing cycle for GI Joe. The proof? Hasbro sold 375 million of the 3.75 inch figures.
So, the GI Joe comics were published by Marvel but not officially Marvel IP. Yet the extreme popularity of the comics created a feeling that the Joes were battling Cobra in the Marvel Universe, since they were sold alongside titles like Thing, She-Hulk, and Moon Knight.
But what if GI Joe really was a part of the Marvel Universe? Which Avengers would they be? Well, I know the answer to that question and I’ll share it with you, because knowing is half the battle.
1. Scarlet – Black Widow
Scarlett was one of the original 3.75 inch Joes in 1982 and was known for her romance with Snakes Eyes in the comics and for rescuing herself when Snake Eyes came to rescue her in the iconic GI Joe #21 “Silent Issue.”
One of the wonderful things about GI Joes were the backs of the blister packs. The top of the card back showed tiny thumbnails of that year’s action figure releases, but the bottom was the file card, which told the Joe’s rank, military specialty, and background, written by Larry Hama himself.
We learned from Scarlett’s file card that her primary specialty on the Joe team is counter intelligence, and that Scarlett is additionally skilled in martial arts and acrobatics. Hmmm. Counter intelligence with an acrobatic fighting style? Yup, that’s Black Widow.
2. Lady Jaye – Mockingbird
Lady Jane’s file card informs us that her speciality is also intelligence and she’s trained to infiltrate just like Mockingbird showed during her spy days with SHIELD.
But owners of the Lady Jaye action figure also know that she came with an odd weapon, a javelin launcher. Sure, it’s not a one-to-one match, but the shape of a javelin is reminiscent of the staff that Mockingbord fights with it. In fact, it’s enough of a match that I’m calling that Lady Jaye would be Mockingbird if she was an Avenger (West Coast) in the Marvel Universe.
3. Snake Eyes – Daredevil
Sure, Snake Eyes is mute and Daredevil is blind, but it is those disabilities that create a connection between the characters. Further, the hand-to-hand fighting styles cement the characters, as do ninja training, the Arashikage Clan for Snake Eyes and the Hand with Daredevil.
Snake Eyes and Daredevil are both silent fighters and if GI Joe was really a part of the Marvel Universe, he’s easy to associate with Daredevil.
4. Duke – Captain America
Duke was the handsome, courageous field leader of the Joes. Captain America is the handsome, courageous field leader of the Avengers. We don’t need much more than that to make a connection between the two, but Duke sure would have looked good with a shield in addition to his Army issued firearm.
But if you need more proof, read the last line of Duke’s file card and picture Chris Evans saying it in a scene from Captain America: The First Avenger.
5. Roadblock – War Machine
I’ve always loved that War Machine had shoulder-mounted artillery as part of his Stark armor. It’s bada@@. Shock and awe, baby. And us Nerds got a good example of it when War Machine was raining fire down on Thanos’ mininons when they were attacking Wakanda during Avengers: Infinity War.
Roadblock similarly rains down fire with his M2 .50 caliber “Ma Deuce” Browning heavy machine gun. Read that last paragraph of Roadblock’s file card and picture Colonel James Rhodes. It works.
6. Storm Shadow – Hawkeye
Hawkeye isn’t a Ninja, I know. And bow and arrow is something more associated with Zartan in the comics. But silent weapons works broadly for both Storm Shadow and Hawkeye, particularly when you factor in his Ronin persona. Sure, it’s a reach, but give this one to me, OK?
7. Spirit – Falcon
So, I’m reaching again but I loved my Spirit action figure as a kid and I loved that he came with a falcon. For that reason, my mind immediately went to Falcon and his bird, Redwing, which was a real bird in the comics and not a drone like it is in the MCU.
Bonus! Shangi-Chi – Quick Kick
Larry Hama is an Asian American who served in Vietnam and practiced martial arts, particularly traditional martial arts that focused on a bow, which is undoubtedly why so many Joes had that focus. So, there is no better person to have created a character like Quick Kick, the silent weapons specialist of GI Joe.
I loved the figure as a kid and I also loved the covers from the old school 70s Shang-Chi: Master of Kung-Fu comics, so much so that I’ve purchased several of those back issue comics recently.
Bonus! Winter Soldier – Major Bludd
Major Bludd was a mysterious mercenary who worked for Cobra, if the price was right. He also had a mechanical hand, which was fascinating to me as a kid who wondered how he got such a thing.
Being brainwashed by Hydra, Bucky Barnes wasn’t a mercenary per se, but it’s hard not to make the connection, particular with that flashy Wakandan mechanical arm he is sporting.
Bonus! Destro – Iron Man
Destro was a weapons supplier, as was Tony Stark before he had a literal change of heart. Destro also has a silver battle mask, as does Tony Stark. The similarities end there, but it’s enough of a connection to make me wonder if there isn’t a spot for Destro on the Avengers!