When you divide your spare time between Twitter and A.V. Club features, you’re bound to have your thumb on the critical “pulse” to a certain degree, and with all the negative buzz over “Green Lantern,” I’d like to clarify some of the more slanderous comments being made. Blake Lively makes a fantastic transition from blond to brunette. Really, only a handful of those reviews were bad, so unless you’re willing to listen to hacks like Peter Travers, Roger Ebert, Owen Gleibermann, Scott Tobias, Colin Covert, Claudia Puig, or Richard Corliss, pay no attention. We can’t let a few rotten assholes spoil the bunch. I think that’s how that saying goes.
“Green Lantern” might seem like a strange choice for a superhero film, and there’s a simple explanation for that; he isn’t part of what is commonly referred to as DC Comics’ “Big Three,” Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman:
DC’s contributions to pop culture have more or less been limited to these three, but if you’ve ever watched an episode of Bruce Timm’s “Justice League” cartoon, you’ll know that the DC Universe has its own unique blend of characters that rivals even the more universal Marvel product. Heck, if you’ve ever been forced to watch cartoons while babysitting, Cartoon Network’s “Batman: The Brave and the Bold” does a superb job of teaming Bats with a random guest from DC’s rogues gallery. That’s the only reason I know about the show. Because of the kids.
But if a dude with a magic alien ring doesnt sound appealing, never fear. “Green Lantern” still provides two hours of solid eye candy for the average male moviegoer:
Okay, the very first result for “Ryan Reynolds” on Google Images showcases his washboard abs. Ridiculous. Slash Film predicted “Green Lantern” to make only $60 million its opening weekend which translates to $10 million per ab. As a fair warning, most of this paragraph is just a few run-on sentences drooling over Ryan Reynolds, so you might wanna scroll down if you’re not comfortable with your sexuality. I honestly can’t fault the ladies on this one. The man’s hilarious, charming, and a total stud muffin. I’m as straight as an arrow, but even I wouldn’t mind putting a ring on it… I mean… a non-alien one of course. Where was I?
Ah, yes. Abs. The only thing “Green Lantern” has more of than sizzling six pack abs is exposition. A whole lotta galactic exposition. And that’s a problem. Note: See “Thor” for the solution and some-
“Green Lantern” as a story isn’t the greatest, and there’s too much required background knowledge, so as a whole, it’s more bad than good. At the same time though, I can’t fault Warner Bros. for this, at least not before putting “Green Lantern” into the proper perspective.
Rewind the clocks back to the summer of 2000, when Fox released “X-Men” and made a shit load of money. Two years later, Sam Raimi’s “Spider-Man” followed suit and turned Hollywood’s interests toward the lucrative and relatively untapped comic book industry. Having already adapted two of Marvel’s most popular franchises, the logical next step was a “Daredevil” movie in 2003. Yes, I said Daredevil. What? Don’t look at me like that.
He’s gritty and edgy! Bullseye is cool! He kills people with home office supplies! Fortunately “X2” came out that year and made everyone forget about Jennifer Garner’s man arms. But I digress. Flagship Marvel properties like Spider-Man and the X-Men franchise were making bank at the turn of the last decade, so studios wisely greenlit as many characters as they could. The crap-tastic “Daredevil” is what happens when a project is given to the wrong people. To be clear, I’m one of the few left on this Earth who can actually tolerate Ben Affleck. I’ve certainly questioned some of his acting choices, but the man is both a talented actor and director. That being said, “Daredevil” was a misguided trainwreck, albeit with an awesome soundtrack. The kid at the back of the middle school bus blasting Evanescence on his CD player? This guy, mo’ friggers.
2003 also saw the release of Ang Lee’s “Hulk” which still baffles me to this day. I’ve seen this film at least eight times, convincing myself that there’s something I’ve been missing with each previous viewing (Other notables include “A.I.,” Peter Jackson’s “King Kong” remake, “Semi-Pro,” and “Quantum of Solace”). Alas, the same dude who directed “Crouching Tiger” could only muster enough creative energy to have Bruce Banner fight… tanks.
It isn’t just the color scheme that “Green Lantern” shares with “Hulk,” though. Shoddy CGI and a weak origin story both rear their hideous, cliched heads. Did I mention that the villains suck ass? Nick Nolte? As a… guy who absorbs energy and turns into a… cloud.
“Green Lantern” completely botched bringing Parallax to life, too. The damn thing ain’t a cloud.
Who the fuck is writing this stuff? The same assholes who changed Galactus into Cumulonimbus?
Unlike the “Fantastic Four” though, there are big plans for the “Green Lantern” franchise, as evidenced by the numerous Easter eggs us virgins were given to chuckle at. Carol Ferris’ call sign, “Sapphire,” is actually a reference to the Star Sapphire, an intergalactic mantle like the Lanterns, which she later takes on in the comics. The “Green Lantern” franchise needs to stay afloat long enough for that to happen and here are two reasons why:
With a new Superman flick already in the works and an attempted Wonder Woman TV series, it’s clear DC is trying its best to expand its own properties to other media, but if Warner Bros. wants to mimic the so-far-so-good progress “The Avengers” movie has been making, this is only the beginning. The Justice League has several more, ahem, colorful members to bring to life:
Imagine the meeting where Warner Bros. executives discuss making a “Hawkman” movie:
Alright, so “The Flash” is going to be a tough sell, but after that it’s all downhill, right Bob?
Basically. I mean, we’ve also got this curator who’s actually the spirit of a reincarnated Egyptian prince. He discovers a metal that negates the effects of gravity, giving him the power to fly. He fights crime in a giant metal hawk helmet and uses ancient museum artifacts as his weapons. But after that, totally downhill.
Capes and tights aren’t cool. As easy as it is for me to poke fun at Colin Farrell as Bullseye, Fox had a point in retooling its comic book properties. Ever wonder how those X-Men movies would play out if Hugh Jackman looked like this?
That yellow spandex doesn’t translate well to film. Some characters simply can’t transition between media. When that happens, Hollywood tries to compromise. Sometimes you get this:
Other times, this:
That second one is real by the way. It’s from Tim Burton’s aborted Superman reboot starring our generation’s most versatile thespian, Nicolas Cage.
“Green Lantern” is certainly deserving of its criticisms. Martin Campbell (of “Casino Royale” fame) sells himself short, somehow Ryan Reynolds isn’t that funny, and Blake Lively just kind of sucks. As a character though, Hal Jordan is so much more than one failed summer blockbuster, and there are comic storylines that will always be better than anything a cinematic adaptation can create. The reason projects like “Super-Cage” get attempted in the first place is because studios try and resist the natural qualities of comic books. Sometimes you just can’t do it. Whether or not “Green Lantern” is proof, only time will tell. Maybe we’ll see a few sequels. Maybe the whole thing will get rebooted with Edward Norton. Maybe it will get rebooted again, but with Mark Ruffalo. And maybe, just maybe, this is a sign that we should all take a break from comic book movies for a while.
Maybe I’ve said too much.