“In brightest day, in blackest night, man this film was a disappointing sight”
Last year, Geekery contributor MATT_INDEED sent in a mailbag question asking why we’ve never had a good GREEN LANTERN film. With Ryan Reynolds’ entry into the DC Comics cinematic universe hitting it’s 10th anniversary today, it’s a good time to once again reflect on Mr. Indeed’s question and my response from last October:
Why don’t we have a good Green Lantern movie yet? – Matt_Indeed
It seems silly, right? A maverick member of an intergalactic police force, defending Earth and the surrounding sector of space from enemies alien and terrestrial, wearing a weapon that can create anything the bearer can imagine. It’s STAR WARS meets DIE HARD, an easy billion-dollar franchise that can be spun off into all sorts of properties and all sorts of merchandise.
And yet, here we are, with no huge Green Lantern franchise.
For the longest time, Warner Bros. seemed reluctant to put any kind of effort behind any comic book-based movie that didn’t feature Batman or Superman. Plus, I imagine, the cost associated with making ring constructs work the right way was likely pretty daunting. But neither of these things are true any more. After all, AQUAMAN made more than a billion dollars worldwide. If Aquaman can do it, a series of Green Lantern movies should be able to make the studio rich beyond belief.
That isn’t to say there aren’t a couple of hurdles, which the 2011 Green Lantern film starring Ryan Reynolds proved.
Outside of Reynolds being completely miscast as the more serious Hal Jordan, the film suffered from trying to serve too many masters and ultimately failing all of them. The film jammed the tragic origins of Hal Jordan, the history of the Green Lantern Corps, an Earth-based threat, a space-based threat, a training sequence, a love story, family drama and political intrigue into two hours. It was just too much to focus on and no one aspect got enough room to breath.
The best Green Lantern stories usually focus on either a space battle or a situation on Earth. Pick one locale and stay there, build out the universe in one main element without going back and forth and give that story more time to develop. And skip the origins. Characters’ histories can be interspersed throughout the film in other ways. We didn’t need a 30-minute primer on who John McClain was at the beginning of Die Hard. Let the audience learn about the character over the course of the film.
The biggest issue, in my own opinion, is that Hal Jordan – the most prominent Earth-based Green Lantern since 1959 – is a terribly boring character. The only time I’ve found Jordan to be interesting in any way is when he was being written by Geoff Johns. And even then, the strengths of Johns’ Green Lantern epic came, in my opinion, by the amazing supporting cast that comes built-in to the Green Lantern property.
Maybe it’s because I started regularly reading DC Comics in 1994, after Hal Jordan had gone insane because of the destruction of Coast City; After Hal had turned against the Guardians of the Universe and killed every member of the Corps and every Guardian save for one; After Hal became Parallax and one of the Guardians gave the final Green Lantern ring to a struggling artist in Los Angeles named Kyle Rayner.
Kyle, to me, is a much more interesting character than Hal. But then, so are Guy Gardner, John Stewart, Simon Baz and Jessica Cruz – all Earthlings who were given rings to serve as back-ups to an unavailable Hal Jordan. Even the Golden Age Green Lantern – who has only a tangential connection to the Silver Age connection – is a better overall character than Hal.
With such a wide array of concepts and characters at its disposal, maybe Green Lantern is just better suited to an episodic format. Hopefully the Green Lantern Corps show that’s rumored to be in development at HBO Max can give us a quality live-action Green Lantern story that we’ve been missing so far.
Back to the present.
The HBO Max Green Lantern Corps show is still in development, with Jeremy Irvine set to star as Golden Age Green Lantern Alan Scott and Finn Wittrock cast as the rebellious Guy Gardener. Hal Jordan is nowhere to be found in what we know of the series so far. Neither is he playing any kind of pivotal role in the greater DC Comics omniverse at large. After two years of Grant Morrison’s GREEN LANTERN run, Jordan has become little more than a bit player in the new INFINITE FRONTIER Lantern series, which instead focuses more on John Stewart. Much like has happened a few times before, it seems as though the publisher is ready to move away from Jordan as a singular focus of the Green Lantern property and instead allow for a more diverse cast to take the forefront.
Will that bode well for future live action Green Lantern projects? It’s hard to tell. A big budget HBO Max series from ARROWVERSE lead Greg Berlanti is an exciting prospect, but we have a long wait before that comes to fruition. With any luck, the series could lead to more big screen adventures for the Corps. Hopefully Ryan Reynolds isn’t anywhere near that project, though.