Cobra wants you! First ‘G.I. Joe: Retaliation’ viral video is a military recruitment commercial

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After somewhat surprisingly failing to make an appearance during the broadcast of Super Bowl XLVII over the weekend, Paramount's "G.I. Joe: Retaliation" surfaced this week with the fake Cobra recruitment viral video seen below.

If you recall, the upcoming sequel to 2009's "G.I. Joe: Rise of Cobra" was actually advertised during last year's Super Bowl, but a series of delays and reshoots pushed the movie back from its original June 2012 release date to March of this year. Produced in the style of real-life US military recruitment advertisements, the "Retaliation" viral vid asks viewers if they think they have what it takes to become a member of the villainous Cobra's elite special forces group. Huh?

If you're wondering why Cobra -- a nefarious (and thankfully fictional) group of international terrorists bent on world domination -- would be advertising itself in a slickly produced recruitment video, you clearly don't remember how the first "G.I. Joe" movie ended. Shouldn't this be a commercial promoting the heroic G.I. Joe operatives? Spoiler alert: "Rise of Cobra" ended with the titular rise of the paramilitary syndicate, and saw one of the organization's members secretly replace the President of the United States. "G.I. Joe: Retaliation" picks up in the wake of these events, with the Joes being framed for Cobra's previous attacks. In the eyes of the public, Cobra are now the good guys and the Joes are the terrorists -- hence the video.

See also: Photos from 'G.I. Joe: Retaliation'

So, where does all this intrigue leave good ol' Duke (Channing Tatum), the hero of the first movie?

According to Deadline, the original version of "Retaliation" killed off Tatum's character very early in the movie; certainly a way to raise the stakes for the sequel, but it's something that didn't go over well with test audiences who viewed the film. Studio Paramount subsequently announced that the film's release would be pushed back by nearly a year so that they could convert the movie to 3D, but many industry insiders claimed that the real reason for the delay was so that the studio could rework and reshoot the movie to expand Tatum's role and possibly avoid killing Duke.

The "Side Effects" actor became a bona fide Hollywood star in between the two "Joe" films, thanks to the success of movies like "21 Jump Street" and "The Vow," so expanding his role to reflect that new stardom would make perfect sense for the studio. Executive producer Lorenzo Di Bonaventura recently denied the rumours of an expanded role for Tatum, but it seems as though no one will really know Duke's fate until "Retaliation" is released on March 29.

Hilariously enough, the Duke character has a long history of dying on screen, only to make a miraculous recovery by the end of the movie. The 1987 animated flick "G.I. Joe: The Movie" had Duke "die" in the opening minutes, but after children and parents reacted poorly the death of robot Optimus Prime in Hasbro's sister toy/cartoon franchise "Transformers," the infamous throwaway line stating that "Duke's going to make it!" was added to the end. Perhaps a similar tacked-on recovery will be added for Tatum in "G.I. Joe: Retaliation." How else would he be able to appear in the inevitable third movie?

Directed by Jon Chu, "G.I. Joe: Retaliation" stars Bruce Willis, Dwayne Johnson, Adrianne Palicki, and D.J. Cotrona.