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Snake Eyes: 15 Things Even Superfans Never Knew

When you picture in your head a silent martial artist who wears all black and beats up bad guys, your first thought might be Batman. As tough as the Caped Crusader may be, we think we found someone that even he would think twice about fighting. We’re talking about the unstoppable ninja that is Snake Eyes; one of, if not the most popular characters from G.I. Joe. Very little is known about him, but ever since he made his first appearance in 1982, there have been little morsels of information dropped casually in comic books, cartoons, and live action films that we happened to catch.

Character creator Larry Hama based Snake Eyes on someone he knew, so have you seen the real Snake Eyes without realizing it? Do you know which member of Cobra killed Snake Eyes’ family? What was the name of his twin sister? What country was Snake Eyes actually marketed as a villain? For a man enshrouded with secrets, we have tons of things to reveal about the man that we bet you never knew. We’re declassifying some earth-shattering intelligence on your favorite member of G.I. Joe. Prepare to be blown away!


Snake Eyes with Sword

Roadblock’s real name was Marvin F. Hinton. Duke’s real name was Conrad S. Hauser. What was Snake Eyes’ real name? Unfortunately that’s classified information as well as his birthplace. Snake Eyes is somewhat reminiscent of Wolverine; both are killers and both have hidden pasts. Eventually we found out Logan’s backstory, but will we ever know the entire saga for Snake Eyes?

Larry Hama is very proud of how popular the G.I. Joe member is and he may never give away all of his secrets, but the one thing Hama has said is that Snake Eyes was based on an actual person Hama knew. The man in black is based on Sargent Bob Light, a tall thin man with blonde hair that was in the 1st Air Cavalry. Why did Hama chose Light? Does that mean Light was in real life a Commando ninja that never spoke? If so, we’d love to meet him!


Snake Eyes never speaks and moves silently when stalking his target. Naturally he would wear black so he could hide in the shadows. He probably is also in black since that’s what most ninjas wear to gain advantages in stealth. Since his name is classified and his identity is a secret, wearing a mask is the best way to prevent people from discovering who he is, but there’s actually another reason for covering his face and wearing all black.

When Hasbro produced the Snake Eyes action figure, it found a great way to save money: by making him all black manufacturers wouldn’t have to paint him and by giving him a mask they wouldn’t have to mold a face for him. As luck would have it, the Snake Eyes toy was extremely popular, and Hasbro didn’t mind making more since it was cheaper to make than your average Joe figure.


Snake Eyes brought fear into the hearts of the members of Cobra. His reputation proceeded him and battling with Snake Eyes surely meant your doom. Hasbro was excited that Snake Eyes was a hit and whenever there was marketing for G.I. Joe, it almost always made sure to include him. However, there was a small error that occurred when Hasbro was promoting Snake Eyes and it was oddly enough with his name.

Was his name Snake Eyes or was it Snake-Eyes? Clearly there weren’t two Snake Eyes running around, although in currently continuity Snake Eyes is dead and has been replaced with a female counterpart named Dawn Moreno. Toys bearing the name Snake-Eyes were produced in 1985, 1993, 1994, and 2000. Toys featuring the name Snake Eyes were made in 1982, 1989, 1991, 1997, and 2002.


What is it about Snake Eyes that makes him so cool? Is it because he walks around with a wolf? How about the fact that he’s armed with several guns as well as a ninja sword? He’s an intimidating man dressed in black but not entirely devoid of color. If you’ve noticed, you may have seen red markings on his shoulder that appear to be a series of horizontal rectangles.

The markings come from the Chinese Book of Changes, also known as the I Ching, written back around 9BCE. The book provides insight into such things as the world and the nature of man by an analysis of the Eight Trigrams, (a trigram being a sequence of three adjacent symbols or letters). The top trigram means water, with the one below meaning fire. When presented together it translates to completion.


G.I. Joe had a lot of great characters in its roster such as Wild Bill, Gung-Ho, Bazooka and Alpine to name a few. However, none really achieved the same popularity as Snake Eyes. He was silent and deadly and immediately people wanted to know more about the man. Hasbro, being smart, gave us more of what we wanted without giving away any new information.

Snake Eyes was one of the first characters in the G.I. Joe roster to get different versions. As of 2018 there are currently 70 versions of Snake Eyes! Most of the versions depict Snake Eyes wearing either all black or mostly black but there is one version produced in 2006 of him wearing his Vietnam outfit. He is unmasked with blond hair and a photo of his sister in his hat.


Why does Snake Eyes wear a mask? Hasbro made Snake Eye toys covering his head to save money from printing faces. However, in the comic and cartoon there are other reasons. There have been times where we’ve seen his face and he is depicted to be a rugged, handsome man with blond hair, while other versions have a different take that justifies why he wears a mask.

In one version of his story, Snake Eyes is with Scarlett on a mission and the two get taken down in a serious helicopter crash. Snake Eyes rescues Scarlett but his whole head is caught on fire in the process. His vocal cords are also damaged in the accident, which is why Snake Eyes never says anything. In G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero #94 Snake Eyes gets reconstructive plastic surgery.


Ray Park played the iconic Darth Maul in Star Wars: The Phantom Menace and expressed for years that he wanted to be Iron Fist. The part wound up going to Finn Jones and as bummed as Ray Park may have been, he did get the chance to play Snake Eyes in the 2009 live action film G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra. In real life, Park was a big G.I. Joe fan, so much that other actors were told to speak to him if they had questions about G.I. Joe.

However, there was one problem: as everyone knows, Snake Eyes does not speak, and to keep in character Ray Park was reported to not only be completely silent on set, he also was rarely out of costume. So when his co-stars approached Park with questions, they got an answer from his Snake Eyes character, which was complete silence.


Not much is known about Snake Eyes, and even Hasbro made it very clear by putting on his file card “Classified” for his real name and birthplace. There are some little details that have slipped out over the years, though. For example, we do know that under his mask he has blond hair. We also know that he has a twin sister named Theresa, and a foreshadowing moment may have let Snake Eyes know that she died.

While in Vietnam serving in a long-range reconnaissance patrol, he carried in his hat a black and white photo of his sister for good luck. During a skirmish, he was shot and the photo was damaged. When Snake Eyes returned to America, he learned that his entire family was killed in a car crash. It might be a coincidence, but eerie none the less.


To raise the stakes, villains often have some connection to the hero of the story. For example, Darth Vader is revealed to be Luke Skywalker’s father. In G.I. Joe, Snake Eyes has a long and complex past with the Cobra ninja known as Storm Shadow; however, he had a much more personal connection with another member of Cobra: Cobra Commander!

When Snake Eyes returned home from Vietnam, he expected to see his parents at the airport to greet him, but instead he learned from Clayton B. Abernathy (who later became the G.I. Joe leader known as Hawk) that his parents were killed in a car accident. Their car was hit by a war veteran who at the time was driving under the influence. It’s later revealed that the person driving the car was the brother of Cobra Commander!


In the live action film G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra, Snake Eyes does not speak due to a vow of silence. In the comics, he does not speak due to a horrific accident that also scarred his face. Eventually he gets corrective surgery that repairs his injuries but it’s said that his vocal cords could not be repaired. However, he is known for saying one word out loud and it’s a big one.

Although he says nothing and has his face covered most of the time, Snake Eyes does manage to get into a relationship with Scarlett. In a moment that seems less like G.I. Joe and more like a Disney cartoon, Snake Eyes wakes up Scarlett from a coma by saying her name. Congrats, Snake Eyes, you just used your ninja sword to stab us right in the feels.


It’s inevitable when you have an ensemble of characters that one will stand out and become the most popular of the group. Capitalizing on this popularity may seem like a good thing but may mess up the dynamic of the show. Raise your hand if you remember when The Real Ghostbusters became Slimer! And the Real Ghostbusters. Yeah, the show wasn’t the same after that.

The G.I. Joe series began with Marvel Comics and ran for 12 years starting in 1994, then continued with Devil’s Due Productions and is currently printed under IDW Publishing. In the 1990s during its run with Marvel, G.I. Joe was briefly changed to G.I. Joe Starring Snake-Eyes (notice the hyphen) for ten issues. During this time even the Transformers made an appearance!


The relationship between Snake Eyes and Storm Shadow is wonderfully complex. The two first met while fighting in Vietnam alongside Lonzo R. Wilkinson, who would later become the G.I. Joke known as Stalker. Later the two would join the Arashikage ninja clan and train together under the Hard Master. The Hard Master was killed by Zartan, but it was assumed Storm Shadow was the murderer. This set forth a rivalry that would last years.

The only reason Storm Shadow joined Cobra was to find out who actually killed the Hard Master. Once the story was set straight, their conflict was resolved and Storm Shadow would even eventually join G.I. Joe alongside Snake Eyes. In later issues they would fight but only due to Storm Shadow being under mind control.


Snake Eyes is one of the fiercest soldiers out there, so how amazing do you think it would be to be his pupil? Snake Eyes has had several apprentices over the years, one of them being Sean Collins, who took the name Kamakura. Collins asked for Snake Eyes to be his mentor to avenge the death of his teammates at the hands of Firefly.

Another apprentice to Snake Eyes was Chad M. Johnson, who took the name Tiger Claw and appeared in the animated movie G.I. Joe: Ninja Battles. Snake Eyes sought out his third recruit Jinx when he learned that she had bloodties to the Arashikage ninja clan. Whereas Snake Eyes’ real name is classified, the real name of Jinx is Top Secret. If you want to be truly confused look up the differences between the two.


In 2009, Paramount released a live action G.I. Joe entitled The Rise of Cobra. The film took the characters in radically different directions from previous iterations. For example, Duke recognizes Baroness because the two characters in the film were at one point engaged to each other. Keep in mind that before the movie was made, the script was leaked and due to negative reactions, G.I. Joe creator Larry Hama was hired to do rewrites.

One element in the script that Hama lobbied against was when a scene called for Snake Eyes to take off his mask and also have conversations with his fellow Joes. Rumor had it that in the script, Snake Eyes told a joke to Duke in a post-credits scene. Paramount clearly was taking liberties with characters we were familiar with, but let’s all rejoice that common sense prevailed and kept Snake Eyes silent but deadly.


When the remake of Red Dawn was released in 2012, the original villains in the film were the Chinese; however, the studio in post-production spent over $1 million to digitally change the adversaries to North Koreans. Sometimes changes are made to fix mistakes, other times alterations are done because of last minute creative changes. This brings up the question: Why was Snake Eyes turned into a villain when the toy was sold in Brazil and Argentina?

In one version, he has a silver Cobra logo on his chest and he’s called Cobra Invasor. In another version he now has his head painted silver and goes by Mortal Invasor. In Argentina he goes by Cobra Mortal and has red and silver colors instead of black. Why the switch in teams? We wonder if the villainous versions of him are equally as fierce as the G.I. Joe version?

By Chris Chan Roberson

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