Conrad S. Hauser / Duke was a big part of G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra and quite a prominent one in G.I. Joe mythology too. Then why was he killed so soon in G.I. Joe: Retaliation? Was there some behind the scenes reason for it regarding the availability of Channing Tatum or is it just a surprise element for the audience?
Turns out, all that speedy character building was just a move to pull the rug from under the audience’s feet. Producer Lorenzo di Bonaventura told us it was a dramatic tool he’s used in the past and thought it would be a perfect way to shake up the expectations of Joe.
“I did it once on a movie a long time ago called Executive Decision… I always liked that movie,” di Bonaventura says. “Killing [Steven] Seagal gave that movie such a great sense of gravity. You took everything seriously after that. And our thought early on was if you killed a character, you were going to do that.”
Di Bonaventura knows that Rise of the Cobra has both fans and critics (although he’ll defend it as one spot on interpretation of the Joes mythology), and he’s still unsure if Retaliation needed the full on internal reboot approach.
“Channing would not have been my first choice to do that with,” he says. “It just ended up being that character. I think in any action movie when you have someone who is supposed to be important to the team and they die, no matter how preposterous you get, everything has an element of ‘anything bad is possible.’ People take the movie more seriously.”