On Wednesday, The Hollywood Reporter revealed that Henry Golding, who last year starred in the rom-com hit Crazy Rich Asians, is “in negotiations” to play Snake Eyes, the iconic ninja of the G.I. Joes. in his own solo movie. Afterward, Golding will presumably reprise his role in another ensemble G.I. Joe movie.
Paramount, along with partners Skydance and AllSpark Pictures, are in the midst of relaunching the G.I. Joe film franchise based on the Reagan-era, military-themed toys and comics, starting with a Snake Eyes solo movie. It is unknown if the new films are a continuation of 2009’s G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra and 2013’s G.I. Joe: Retaliation or a complete reboot.
Either way, if negotiations are finalized, Golding will replace actor/stuntman Ray Park, who portrayed Snake Eyes in the last two movies.
Golding is an exciting choice to play Snake Eyes, if also a confusing one. While Golding is a charismatic and handsome leading man — he has been the rare Asian actor to play a romantic lead not once, not twice, but four times in his young career — Snake Eyes is a famously masked character, remembered by a whole generation of nerds for donning all black kevlar and fighting his Arashikage ninja clan brother and rival, Storm Shadow.
His face has only been seen once in the comics (issue #94 of the legendary Larry Hama series at Marvel), which revealed Snake Eyes to be a scarred blonde Caucasian male. As critic Keith Chow wrote for The Nerds of Color:
Snake Eyes, of course, is everyone’s favorite G.I. Joe character. He’s got the best costume and his file card made it so that any kid could imagine themselves behind the mask. And for this Asian American kid, that was a big deal. It also helped that everything about his backstory was a mystery. He could literally be anyone to anybody. Which is why it was ultimately disappointing to learn Snake Eyes was a white guy.
Casting an Asian actor (Golding is British-Malaysian) to portray Snake Eyes feels like a serious course-correction that feels long overdue. It’s also just kinda funny, because why cover up Henry Golding’s face? Then again, 20th Century Fox had no problem burning Ryan Reynolds’ mug for Deadpool, and those films have grossed an insane amount of money. Perhaps similar success could follow Golding into the untitled Snake Eyes movie.
Golding’s casting has yet to be officially confirmed by Paramount, but Deadpool creator Rob Liefeld, who is penning a new Snake Eyes comic book series for 2020, retweeted a ScreenCrush article about Golding’s casting without comment. That’s about the closest to “final” this news can get.
Snake Eyes does not yet have a release date.