|Let's see Ant-Man do THIS.|
I think sometimes we expect too much of our Superhero movies. We forget sometimes that when many of these characters were created, not a lot of thought went into how real they were, or how grounded they would be. Superman came around with not only a cousin, but almost an entire zoo including Kryptonian versions of a cat, horse, a monkey, and most famously, a dog. The Fantastic Four have had adventures with Blackbeard the pirate and a wacky, lovably robot sidekick. The Wonder Twins. And the Batman that everyone wants to see wasn’t the Batman that existed even before the 1960’s TV Series that heavily featured the Bat-toosie.
So, when, say, for instance, you put a guy on screen who’s superpower involves a magical ring that he got from a dying purple alien, you can acknowledge that it’s a little bit silly and try to work with that, or you can do grim and gritty, which probably wouldn’t work in this case. Either way, it’s a fine tightrope to walk.
Green Lantern came out in 2011 starring Ryan Reynolds as Hal Jordan, test pilot for Ferris Air and eventual Green Lantern of sector 2814. (There’s 3600 different sectors, each one guarded by a Green Lantern.) The movie bombed, getting pretty terrible reviews and setting back the DC Cinematic Universe to the point that they just said, “Screw it, when are we making another Superman? Let’s just go ahead and put everyone in a movie about Superman. That’s opposite enough from the thing that’s earning Marvel all the money ever printed on the planet.”
I really think we’re about a year away from trading for things in Tony Stark fun bucks, cut out the middle man, in case you miss the Marvel Universe Movies that are currently being shown in Cinemas (Two this year alone), on television, on Netflix, or soon to be beamed directly into your brain.
The thing was... it actually really wasn’t as bad as everyone thinks.
Green Lantern has always been a difficult hero to write. On the one hand, you have this guy who can form just about any creation in his mind as long as he can will it, with a ring that has some kind of basis in science but is, let’s face it, magic. The first Green Lantern, Alan Scott, was unrelated to the whole “Guardians of the Universe” thing and was able to be stopped by wood. That’s right. Bullets are fine, but come at him with a twig and you weren’t going to be able to stop him. When he was revamped, he ended up being vulnerable to.... the color yellow. Yes, the biggest threat to the Green Lantern Corps could be in the form of a villainous Big Bird. Eventually it was changed again to having a whole spectrum of colors and “yellow” just represented “fear.”
That’s where we were at when we got the movie.
The movie follows the story of Hal Jordan has he first gets the ring and has to train to be the Green Lantern, taking risks. It follows along the lines of the early “Emerald Dawn” storyline with another big storyline thrown in, that of Parrallax, the entity of fear. The whole “entity” thing was thrown into the comic books to explain why Hal Jordan would eventually go insane, kill all of the other Green Lanterns, and eventually try to rewrite time. Here it’s just the representation of all things fear, which makes for an interesting rewrite.
The biggest sin that the movie has is not taking advantage more of some of the future storylines. For example, one of the bigger future storylines will be the not-so-subtly named Sinestro (he has sinister IN HIS NAME... how do you not figure out he’s the bad guy?) deciding to take out the Green Lantern Corps, despite being one of the best. A “better” storyline might have been sort of like “Training Day... in Space” where Sinestro slowly tries to corrupt Hal Jordan, but ends up being defeated by him. (and you can imagine how cool that fight would be.)
So... why the hate for this movie? I’m still not sure, to be honest with you. The beginning and the middle are a little exposition heavy, but this is some pretty dense stuff they’re dealing with: essentially cramming 30 years of an obscure hero down your brain hole. Is it his superpower? Like I said, it’s about a guy with a magic ring. Essentially he’s Bilbo Baggins without the pot-smoking wizard friend. The tone of the movie? It was a little uneven, I’ll give you that. On the one hand, they wanted to embrace a hero that used to knock people out with giant boxing gloves. On the other, they tried for that grim and gritty aspect that made the Christopher Nolan Batman movies so extra dark and wonderful. So, I can see how the tone would be that off. But was it that bad? Not really. It still features what we want: a lot of cool action sequences, the hero risking his life to save as many people as possible, and Ryan Reynolds in a CGI costume. (Also the greatest line ever “You think I won’t recognize you because I can’t see your cheekbones?”)
Ultimately, I think this movie deserves another look. I would have to say it’s one of the best superhero movies made in terms of sheer fun, adventure, and embracing the superpowers without a lot of emotional baggage. Fortunately that’s just limited to one scene where Hal Jordan ponders using the ring again, and let’s face it we know he is going to because he’s Hal Jordan. This movie would have benefited from the inclusion of more heroes, actually, Green Lantern has always had a good relationship with the Flash and Green Arrow. Some of his best storylines have involved that.
So, if you get a chance, you may want to re-explore this one. And hopefully they’ll bring Ryan Reynolds back to play the character one more time before they ultimately pass the ring off to someone else.