There has been a major outcry over the last couple of months about the casting of Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Cobra Commander in this Summer's forthcoming G.I. Joe film. This fanboy driven anxiety intensified with the release of the photos of the Cobra Commander action figure, which looks like someone crushed a real movie villian, rolled him in leather and acrylic, and then gave him some completely ridiculous weapons. When I showed the above linked picture to a guy I work with, his criticism was "that's fucking gay." While I don't approve of his ignorance-driven pejorative usage of the word, I cannot deny it's appropriateness to the situation. After all, Cobra has always been pretty gay.
Don't believe me? Storm Shadow is the only ninja assassin I've ever seen who dresses all in white, apparently since he can only kill people between Memorial and Labor days, and all while looking fabulous. I mean, black is traditional, and even Elektra's badass enough to have picked red, the color of blood. But no, Storm Shadow's wearing white, with little wrist wraps and strappy little shoes that offset his weapons accessories. What about Zartan, the master of disguise? Here's a guy wearing too much eye makeup and a belly shirt, whose big claim to fame is dressing up. And he hangs out with the Dreadnoks, who have that Zed / Deliverance vibe, and who all carry giant phallic symbols with them.
What about Destro, with his club drugs around his neck and his fluffy high red collar and shirt open down to there? That metal mask is what he wears until society accepts his alternate lifestyle. Tomax and Xamot? Gay narcissist twin fantasy. Two words: sleeveless tops. And Dr. Mindbender? Leather Daddy. Come on. Here's a guy with no shirt, some little silver suspender bands covering his nipples, knee boots, purple pants, and a big Village People shock absorber mustache. This a gay crew, all the way. And the biggest queer in the group is Cobra Commander. Check this out:
Here's a man who favors formal wear and masks, and who hangs out with hot-ass Baroness all day long. And the Baroness is covered from neck to heels in tight black leather, too. She's got the glasses for the kind of uptight librarian thing - sexy. But is he commanding her to do unspeakable things with him in a back room involving snakes and domination? No. He's spending his time with Dr. Mindbender, whose real first name is Lance, and who we already know is gay, and their big project is? Building the perfect man. A man who they call Serpentor, which could easily be the name of a gay porn star. Now this sequence of panels makes the Commander look uncomfortable with Serpentor's enthusiastic and shirtless embrace, but I sumbit to you that this is just an internal realignment taking place as a man who calls himself Commander realizes that in a sexual relationship with a man cloned from the DNA of history's great leaders (who will later dress in red, gold and green) he can only ever be a bottom. 'Cause Serpentor's a top. Has to be that way - c'mon, you knew he was a top, right?
The Cobras reinforced this gay terrorist organization by killing off the unattractive and possibly straight Cobras like Dr. Venom (who was replaced by Lance Mindbender) and Major Bludd, who was replaced by a fabulous settee and some throw pillows. Now - you could make an argument that the comic and cartoon estblishment of the 1980's dealt the gay community a raw deal when it made Cobra gay - and I'd agree with you. It was deplorable the way that media tried to associate homosexuality or other so-called "deviant" lifestyles with the faces of evil - Skeletor, Mumm-Ra, Dr. Claw, Gargamel - the list goes on and on.