During the 1980s, along with Masters of the Universe, Transformers, and My Little Pony, G.I. Joe dominated toy shelves. The popular line of action figures, based around a military setting, was a big seller during the decade and continues to remain popular to this day.

But over the years, G.I. Joe hasn’t just excited kids and toy enthusiasts alike, the high-profile property has also provided hours of entertainment for movie fans via a series of live-action and animated adventures. But how many G.I. Joe movies are there, and what is the best viewing order?

Ready to go, Joe? Then read on for details.

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The mini-series movie

Let’s start with the very first G.I. Joe movie, which originally aired on television as a five-part story within the G.I. Joe animated series. The story – called Arise Serpentor, Arise! – was initially broadcast as five episodes, collectively telling the origin of the Joe’s new enemy, Serpentor.

Although this story originated on TV, it was later released on VHS as a TV movie.

Should you want to watch this film then seek out:

  • G.I. Joe: Arise Serpentor, Arise! (1986)
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The original animated movie 

Image: ©Hasbro

OK, moving on now to a fan-favourite film in the shape of G.I. Joe: The Movie – a feature-length spin-off of the ‘80s Joe cartoon. This film featured voice work from Don Johnson and Burgess Meredith and saw the Joe’s locked in battle with their mortal enemy, Cobra.

The film was originally created for a theatrical release, but due to the box office failure of Transformers: The Movie (1986) (another toy/cartoon spin-off) it was decided that the Joe movie should be released straight to video.

If you wish to watch this film then simply look out for:

  • G.I. Joe: The Movie (1987)*

*In the UK, G.I. Joe: The Movie was originally released under the title: Action Force: The Movie. It was later re-titled to G.I. Joe when the film was released on DVD.

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The DVD animated movies 

Image: ©Hasbro/Paramount Home Entertainment

In 2003, during a revival period for G.I. Joe toys, Reel FX Creative Studio and Paramount Pictures released a direct-to-DVD Joe movie to coincide with a new collection of figures. The film – G.I. Joe: Spy Troops – was a computer generated feature, running around 45 minutes in length.

Due to the success of the toy/film cross promotion, Reel FX and Paramount teamed up again to produce a sequel, this time connected to a new collection of figures. This film – G.I. Joe: Valor vs. Venom – had a longer running time, clocking in at 77 minutes.

In late 2004, Reel FX released another direct-to-DVD movie, this time called G.I. Joe: Ninja Battles. The movie was much shorter than the two previous films, running around 22 minutes, and included scenes from Spy Troops and Valor vs. Venom.

If you wish to watch the films in this series, then watch them in the following order: 

  • G.I. Joe: Spy Troops (2003)
  • G.I. Joe: Valor vs. Venom (2004)
  • G.I. Joe: Ninja Battles (2004)
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The TV series that became a movie… sort of

Image: ©Hasbro Studios

In 2009, Hasbro Studios produced a G.I. Joe television series comprising 11 parts. Parts one to ten aired as five-minute episodes, while the final episode aired as a ten-minute segment.

So, what does this have to do with movies?

Although the show initially aired in 11 parts, the series was edited together as a movie which aired on Teletoon in Canada. Should you want to watch it in its entirety, then seek out:

  • G.I. Joe: Resolute (2009)
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The live-action movies 

Image: ©Hasbro/Paramount Pictures

When the Joe’s suited up for their next adventure it was in live-action – and on the big screen! This film – aimed at a wider audience than the animated affairs – was directed by Stephen Sommers and was titled: G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra.

Channing Tatum, Marlon Wayans, Dennis Quaid and Ray Park filled out the cast, taking on the roles of Duke, Ripcord, Hawk, and Snake Eyes respectively. And while the movie wasn’t a critical hit it was a financial success and was followed in 2013 with a sequel: G.I. Joe: Retaliation

Retaliation continued the story that began in The Rise of Cobra, but the focus this time around was on introducing new cast members including Dwayne Johnson as Roadblock, and Bruce Willis as Joseph ‘Joe’ Colton. Once again it was a financial success.

The two films in this order are as follows:

  • G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra (2009)
  • G.I. Joe: Retaliation (2013)
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Live-action Snake Eyes movie

Image: ©Hasbro/Paramount Pictures

A new live-action movie is being released in 2021 – this time focusing on Snake Eyes. The film – Snake Eyes: G.I. Joe Origins –  includes a new cast, tells the early adventures of the Joe’s most iconic character, and is a reboot of the live-action series.

  • Snake Eyes: G.I. Joe Origins (2021) 
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G.I. Joe production order

Image: ©Hasbro/Paramount Pictures

And finally, should you simply wish to watch all of the G.I. Joe films that have been released, then you should watch them in production order:

  • G.I. Joe: Arise Serpentor, Arise! (1986)
  • G.I. Joe: The Movie (1987)
  • G.I. Joe: Spy Troops (2003)
  • G.I. Joe: Valor vs. Venom (2004)
  • G.I. Joe: Ninja Battles (2004)
  • G.I. Joe: Resolute (2009)
  • G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra (2009)
  • G.I. Joe: Retaliation (2013)
  • Snake Eyes: G.I. Joe Origins (2021) 

If you watch the films in this order you will get to see different takes on the characters, as well as a mix of animation and live-action.

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I hope this information on the G.I. Joe movie series has proved useful. Should you wish to find out the best viewing order(s) for other iconic movie series, please take a look at one of the recommended reads below.

And now you know. And knowing is half the battle.

Read more:

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