GREEN LANTERN ON FILM: It Needs the Star Wars Approach

The writer identifying himself as "Vadakin" continues his exploration of what is needed for various DC characters to work on the big screen. Having already tackled Batman and Aquaman, he now turns his attention to Green Lantern.

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By EdGross - 2/21/2013
Over the course of this series, we're exploring ways to make prominent DC heroes, members of the Justice League, work as films. Green Lantern, of course, has already had a film and it wasn't successful. In preparing for this article, it was impossible to avoid thinking about the 2011 Ryan Reynolds film, which was designed to be the beginning of a new era for Warner Brothers and their DC properties. Christopher Nolan's Batman trilogy was winding down and Superman was in limbo. Meanwhile, Marvel was seeing continued success in their build up to The Avengers. So it fell to Green Lantern to light the way. It didn't work. The movie was a failure at the box office. But why did it go wrong? Where did it go wrong?

In Blackest Night

The truth is, Green Lantern wasn't a bad movie, proving itself to be mediocre at worst. Poor marketing in the months leading up to release failed to create any significant buzz about the film while unfinished effects shots in teasers and trailers made it look cheap, and the now infamous “I know, right?” moment in it was deemed a calling card for an overly comedic Reynolds performance that in the film, didn't materialize. But the damage had been done on the marketing side. Then there's the film itself. A bland performance from Blake Lively didn't help matters and Martin Campbell, while more than competent as a director, never felt like the right person to tackle a big sci-fi adventure. Then there's the script. The first draft of the script is actually really good. But as with most things in the Hollywood system, everyone has notes, everyone has to have their say and the result was a watered down shooting draft that failed to reach Green Lantern's true potential.

But the biggest problem with the Green Lantern movie is that it felt small. In spite of involving aliens and an army of space cops, the movie never really felt like it had the scale you would expect from the character. One of the biggest complaints about the film is that it spent too much time on Earth and not enough time on Oa or visiting alien worlds. Fans spent years talking about Green Lantern's potential to be a sci-fi epic while detractors questioned the logic of making any kind of Green Lantern movie. This film was supposed to prove those detractors wrong. It didn't. In keeping the movie local to Sector 2814 for large sections, the film makers failed to grasp what the property was truly capable of. Green Lantern had been pitched to Warner Brothers as a trilogy but it failed to get out of the starting gate and, in the end, felt too much like 20th Century Fox's Fantastic Four films.

Green Lantern 2

Now it falls to an old reliable to kickstart DC's new era. Man Of Steel will seek to do what Green Lantern failed to do and prepare the audience for a post-Dark Knight movie world to compete with Marvel. But what of Green Lantern? Should Warner Brothers reboot? Should Reynolds get another movie? Should he appear in Justice League or should Hal Jordan be put out to pasture in favor of Kyle Rayner or John Stewart? Does anybody even want to see Guy Gardner? Looking to the future, there are many directions Green Lantern can go, but there is one thing, above all, that Warner Brothers needs to get straight in their minds.

Green Lantern Is Star Wars

It is. Let's be honest with ourselves here. You can break it down. The Green Lanterns are Jedi. They have strange powers and light-based weapons. They guard peace and justice. The Guardians of the Galaxy are a Jedi Council full of Yoda clones. The rings are lightsabers.The Manhunters are effectively Stormtroopers, a created army fighting for peace only to turn on their masters. Sinestro is Count Dooku, a legend within the Corp, who becomes disillusioned and seeks out power to end what he sees is corruption only to become consumed by that thirst for power. Even Hal Jordan has a Darth Vader turn in the comics when a tragedy causes him to go mad with grief and become evil and hunt down the Green Lanterns only to have a final moment of redemption.



Ever since the release of the original Star Wars in 1977, movie studios have searched for a way to recapture what that movie did, not only at the box office but in merchandising. In theory, Green Lantern has it all. It has the merchandising potential that Warner Brothers have long been desperate to exploit, but I believe it also has the box office potential in creating an experience like Star Wars or Avatar. If and when the next Green Lantern movie materializes, it should fully embrace the space opera aspect of the mythos. There's an entire universe to explore. Cosmic threats that demand cosmic heroes. In Hal Jordan you have a hero with the swagger of Han Solo and the charm of Captain Kirk.

Green Lantern is often labelled as a science fiction story, but in truth, it is more of a space fantasy along the lines of Flash Gordon and Star Wars. I don't believe Green Lantern works as a traditional superhero, living in a city, fighting crime and saving lives. The source of his power indicates a much grander story in a much larger universe. He should be hunting war criminals on Thanagar, not spending his days tackling muggers. As Green Lantern of Sector 2814, Hal Jordan has more to protect than just a single world and while connecting the threat to Earth in some way can make things more personal and give the audience a reason to care, the scale shouldn't be reduced to an Earth-based story.

By giving Green Lantern the Star Wars treatment, it also places the character in a unique position for Justice League. I've long maintained that what will make Justice League work (more on this in the coming weeks) is that each hero is different. Avengers worked by connecting the heroes, Justice League will work by separating them and Green Lantern fits a cosmic niche within the line-up.

Normally at this point, I'd talk a little about Hal Jordan's story and his journey in becoming Green Lantern of Sector 2814. The trouble is, we've had a movie about that already and now Warner Brothers face a dilemma. There are different options on the table and I will attempt to explore some of the pros and cons of these options.

For the rest of this story, please click HERE.
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LP4 - 2/21/2013, 5:17 AM
Didn't Reynolds early on say that they were going for the "Star Wars approach" with this film? In fact i seem to remember he specifically said the movie would be the "Star Wars of the DC Universe"

lol, so much for that. I say recast everyone. No need to keep anyone from this film and just reboot it from scratch.
thalidomide - 2/21/2013, 5:21 AM
Don't do a reboot, do what Marvel did to the Hulk, new script writer new cast, everything. There is still hope for GL.
DrDoom - 2/21/2013, 5:25 AM
@thalidomide

But Incredible Hulk IS a reboot....
AthleticoPathetico - 2/21/2013, 5:30 AM
@thalidomide Surely that is a reeboot by definition dude.

Reynold's needs to be considered the Brandon Routh of GL, MOVE ON DC!!!! I wouldn't mind seeing Michael Pitt in the role.
Vadakin - 2/21/2013, 5:33 AM
The Incredible Hulk is a reboot but it kinda half follows Hulk, not in the specifics but in the general idea of a lab accident gone wrong, Bruce being in South America at the end of Hulk and at the beginning of Incredible Hulk.

They did it in a way that would feel somewhat familiar in terms of the origin but was different enough to feel new although the movie didn't really do any better than the Ang Lee film at the box office.

Of course, both movies took their inspiration from the TV show, which may have ended up being a hinderance rather than a help when you consider what Avengers did without all that baggage.
AthleticoPathetico - 2/21/2013, 5:34 AM
@LEVITIKUZ if you had to recast Sinestro who would you go with? Javier Bardem for my money.
Vadakin - 2/21/2013, 5:35 AM
The difference between GL and Hulk is that there is only one Hulk. That basically means recasting, which Marvel have done - twice. With GL you can simply move on to another Green Lantern. I'd actually like to see a GL sequel set almost entirely in space. Play to its strengths. But I doubt Warners are willing to do another GL before Justice League.
Squish - 2/21/2013, 5:36 AM
Green Lantern was awful. Needs to be rebooted.
StrangerX - 2/21/2013, 5:39 AM
The Brave & the Bold- Flash and Green Lantern team up
Shamo - 2/21/2013, 5:42 AM
movie was horrible. pure and utter shit.
Carl - 2/21/2013, 5:50 AM
still had less plot holes and was truer to its characters than the Nolan batman films.
SkywayTraffic - 2/21/2013, 5:52 AM
Really? No mention of that god awful suit? I'd venture to say THAT was what made the film unwatchable.
HavocPrime - 2/21/2013, 5:54 AM
Green Lantern was a bad film that could have been good, the acting was wooden but I can't blame Mark Strong and Reynolds as they had to work in those horrid CGI suits, which was a bad decision to start to with.
JatevinM - 2/21/2013, 5:55 AM
If Ryan Reynolds would've been provided with a better script he would've been a better Hal Jordan because he wasn't terrible. I say recast everyone else except Reynolds and Mark Strong and redo everything about this movie. Give it to a writer and director
Who understands the source material and cares about it.
Carl - 2/21/2013, 6:02 AM
levitikuz
I don't think you know what you are talking about.
I don't think you have read them honestly.
Batman trained as a ninja, bu cannot fight well, wears armor because he isnt agile, isnt much of a detective at all, quits...
Joker and Bane were completely reinvented blah blah blah.
Both TDK and TDKR have half as many plot holes in their stories as transformers 2, which is still a shit load.
BboiBlack - 2/21/2013, 6:06 AM
EVERYONE, GO WATCH THE 3RD TRAILER FOR THE STAR TREK REBOOT AND YOU WILL HAVE YOUR GREEN LANTERN APPROACH.
Carl - 2/21/2013, 6:09 AM
levitukuz
I bet you are going to say ledgers joker was inspired by the killing joke next?

Joker Killing Joke Snaps a 600x938 Joker   Killing Joke   Snaps a





or that Nolans Bane was like bane from the comics because he "broke the bat"?

some of you kids are such posers.
trust me, you are easy to spot.
repeating quotes from Nolan or his writers like parrots.
JohnTom88 - 2/21/2013, 6:16 AM
Star Wars doesn't have bright, color coded costumes
Star Wars doesn't have corny oath
Star Wars doesn't have lightsaber in the shape of baseball, boxing glove, and so on. Lightsaber is curt and deadly and doesn't act like a concusive, multishaped flashlight.

In other words, you're just being a comic book nerd if you say GL has the same appeal of Star Wars
jackmamma - 2/21/2013, 6:16 AM
Well written article i must say but i disagree with Green Lantern needing to be a huge space epic like starwars in the first film, that is exactly what got green lantern in trouble in the first place. There was just too much they were trying to squeeze into the first film in ended up being a cluster F***. IMO what they should have done is do what marvel did with thor and ground the character and ease the audience into the grand scale of the mythos. For me i wouldn't even of had Hal leave earth in the first film instead having him discover the power of the ring on his own. Then in the sequel he would discover the green lantern corps and make it starwars at hat point. But of course what ifs and what i would do's are infinite
SpideyQuad - 2/21/2013, 6:18 AM
The flaw is in the studio and the way the hierarchy is stacked. Too much input from people who don't know the source material, or another way of saying it, too much control from people who are clueless. As long as WB/DC make their movies this way they will continue to be hit or miss at best. Unfortunately GL was a miss which turned into a mess.

Sorry to say all you can expect is more of the same until a serious restructuring is done. Just look at the mess the Justice league movie is experiencing as your guide.
ToTheManInTheColdSweat - 2/21/2013, 6:23 AM
no, GL 2011 pretty much tried to do that "star wars" shit and FAILED!!!! reboot GL and make that shit more personal, just a guy and his ring trying to make sweet love, save the guardians and all that "space wars" shit till the third movie.

hmmmmm, wanna take bets carl is dangerstranger or intruder? welcome back mother[frick]er ^_^
EdgyOutsider - 2/21/2013, 6:25 AM
@Levi: Green Lantern is as bad as Batman and Robin, maybe slightly better. Despite a weak story, TASM is actually very good. Strong performances, good direction and good writing (for the most part) help make it better than the third and first and (depending who you are) the second. Nothing about it was rehashing except the retelling the origin. Anyone who thinks otherwise is over thinking it.

I agree that Green Lantern needs the Star Wars approach. At least making Green Lantern is possible. Filming Aquaman would be impossible seeing how he talks underwater. I'll never have faith in Aquaman and will always laugh at Groot and Rocket Raccoon getting a movie first. I know Warner Bros. does other movies but, I still think it's funny.
EdgyOutsider - 2/21/2013, 6:29 AM
Also @jcameron: Captain America and Thor were very good. I don't see what's generic about them. Saying they're far from being as good as Green Lantern is dumb. Why would you pit the success of those two (although they weren't huge successes) against a DC fail? That's like saying X2 is worse than Catwoman or The Avengers is worse than Batman & Robin.
Carl - 2/21/2013, 6:45 AM
levi
you are saying titles, not referencing anything really.
Carl - 2/21/2013, 6:49 AM
why arent you a power user yet?
do you at least get your articles coped by power users?
EdgyOutsider - 2/21/2013, 6:51 AM
@Levi: There is no way a live action Aquaman could work IMO. I will admit, he looks disgusting in Injustice but, that's it. I've never really understood the big deal with him.
randomality85 - 2/21/2013, 6:52 AM
Matthew Bomer for Hal Jordan! I'd say he's much more believable for a role like Hal Jordan than Ryan Reynolds. He has some experience with CBMs with Superman Unbound and is going to voise Teen Titans Go. Aside from the looks, this guy can act. Already shows in White Collar that he has some range.

If not that, do what GI Joe Retaliation is doing, a sort of reboot sequel. Have Hal Jordan doing some other stuff like investigating the Yellow Lantern threat while on Earth, a new Lantern is needed for Sector 2814. That way, you can move onto Jon Stewart, and show a more militarized Green Lantern doing stuff around his sector as opposed to just Earth.
TMW1987ProudProWrestlingFan - 2/21/2013, 7:04 AM
LOL @Jcameron as usual.

Green Lantern better than Thor & Cap...... Yeah, OK buddy. You keep living & breathing in that little bubble of yours.


As for a Green Lantern Sequel or Reboot, keep Ryan Reynolds, you can't blame actors for scripts or dialogue & they have to work with what they are given & I think Reynolds was a perfect choice for Hal, jsut his material sucked & did best he could with what he had.

It's like Brandon Routh, I thought he was good as Super man & don't blame him for a Shit movie. I would have given Routh another chance at the role in MOS, but I digress.

Reynolds & Routh get so much crap for Green Lantern & Super Man Returns, but I don't blame either of them one bit for the movies sucking over all.

Carl - 2/21/2013, 7:07 AM
levi fail bud.
epic fail in fact.

those are such basic concepts its not even funny.

Batman has butler - year one
Batman wears a mask - year one
joker wears purple - killing Joke
lol...

image
AC1 - 2/21/2013, 7:13 AM
I nearly stopped reading at "Truth is, Green Lantern wasn't a bad movie". Green Lantern was an attrocious movie, it's some of the worst rubbish I've ever had the displeasure of watching, and to say that it was anything better than shit is deluding yourself.

Putting the unearned praise of the movie aside, you're right in that Green Lantern should take a huge amount of inspiration from Star Wars. However, it shouldn't just be a Star Wars clone. And I don't think it matters whether or not the movie is set mostly on Earth or in space, as long as the story is good and warrants the setting that is featured.

Another great inspiration for a Green Lantern reboot, if you want to take it in a slightly different direction, would be any good buddy cop movie - Obviously, Sinestro would be the seasoned, straight laced but willing to rebel veteran, and Hal Jordan (he needs to be done right before any other Lanterns are introduced) would be the cocky at times rookie. Think about the character dynamics in Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, for example, with Sinestro substituting Val Kilmer's character (albeit with an added underlying darkness), and Hal Jordan substituting Robert Downey Jr's. This also adds an extra level of tragedy when Sinestro inevitably betrays the Corps, and makes it much more personal for Hal.

If I had any say in who'd be involved in the movie, I'd have Duncan Jones direct, Jake Gyllenhaal star as Hal Jordan, Ralph Fiennes as Sinestro, John Hurt as the voice of Tomar-Re, Jeffrey Dean Morgan as the voice of Kilowog, and possibly Daniel Craig as Abin Sur, while I'd also include John Stewart initially as a supporting character who's friends with Hal on Earth, is inspired by Hal's recruitment into the GL-Corps to join the army, and later becomes a Green Lantern in a sequel (Jamie Foxx is a great choice, so credit to whoever came up with that casting).

@Carl maybe Nolan's Batman films were slightly different to the spirit of the characters from the comics, but they were a hell of a lot closer than any other movies had gotten before. Take your mentioning of the Joker, for example - Nolan's Joker, like the comic Joker, takes on an obsession over Batman where he presents themselves as almost soulmates. Like the comics, he has no definitive origin, and (particularly referencing The Killing Joker) wishes to prove that life is a bad joke and that anyone can fall to madness through one bad day (the differences being that in the comics he targets Gordon and fails while in TDK he targets Harvey and succeeds).
Then look at Tim Burton's Joker, who, for all intents and purposes, is a sadistic mobster named Jack Napier who kills Bruce Wayne's parents and then gets bleached by chemicals (the chemicals are the only way this Joker is more faithful than Nolan's), and calls himself The Joker, but essentially is still just a mobster who is now slightly more sadistic and has a tendency to randomly laugh. There's no real obsessive connection between him and Batman, no delusion of fate, no mystery to his background - in fact, his plan is to get enough money to retire after killing most of Gotham.

The main difference between Nolan's Joker and the comic book version is that Nolan's Joker doesn't seem to have as much fun with what he does.
NorrinRaddical - 2/21/2013, 7:17 AM
completely replace the cast and try again please
AC1 - 2/21/2013, 7:18 AM
@Lizard1 I think Aquaman has potential but he'd be tricky to pull off. You'd need to go all out to show he's a serious character. As for the talking underwater thing, Aquaman is a telepath so that could work (and Atlantis could just be an underwater city that's in like a bubble or something so they're not actually completely submerged).

The thing is, Aquaman, like Superman, takes huge ques from Biblical tales like Moses, but Aquaman also adopts some Greek Mythology too (Neptune, for example), so the potential for a fantasy-epic is there.
Vadakin - 2/21/2013, 7:22 AM
For people talking about the GL film having already taken the Star Wars approach. It kind of did but it did it in a half hearted way. It's like Luke Skywalker leaving with Ben Kenobi, then returning to Tatooine every 20 minutes to hang out with his friends.

It needed to embrace the space stuff fully, which it didn't want to do, or not embrace it at all. There were really two choices here. Either have Hal leave Earth and go on a crazy space adventure or not have him leave Earth at all. Keep the film local, deal with an Earth-based threat and only go to Oa at the end of the movie to discover that there is a much larger universe to play in for a sequel.

That's certainly an option, but in general, a larger, universe-spanning adventure is the way to go. One of the things I mention in the article is that in spite of going to Oa, in spite of a world-threatening villain, the film felt small. The best parts of that film were on Oa and we never really got a chance to explore who and what the Green Lanterns are on any meaningful level. You either have to embrace it from the start or save it for a sequel. You can't be half-hearted about it, the way the Reynolds film was.


Someone asked why I didn't talk about the costume. The article was more about the future of Green Lantern, not reviewing the 2011 film. But I'll address it here. The concept was fine. In theory, the ring does create the costume and so the costume is made of energy. The problem is, in practice, it didn't really work. I think the solution is to have a practical costume augmented by cgi. So have an actual GL suit for the actor and in post, add whatever green glowy effect you want.
ralfinader - 2/21/2013, 7:23 AM
Regardless of how well made the movie was or wasn't, the first commercial with that cheesy CGI costume change killed any desire to see that movie for most non-fans, and alot of fans. I winced when I saw it, it was painful to see.
TheSisko - 2/21/2013, 7:24 AM
Why do people defend this movie? It was not a Mediocre film it was out right terrible, worst then even Batman and Robin which at least was so bad it was humerous.The GL movie had terrible editing and sound mixing, used the same SFX shots over and over again(just flipped around), had obvious product placement that was way too distracting(hot wheels anyone?),had okay casting, and a pitiful script that failed to give us a compelling character other then Sinistro. If the next GL is going to be a better film focus on the script and getting a film editor that will do a better job. I would go less Star Wars and more Training Day in space, with Sinistro being the dirty cop.
JohnnyKrypton - 2/21/2013, 7:24 AM
Mediocre at worst? No. It's not the worst CBM I've seen, but it's BAD - 'less enjoyable than FF, DD and GR' bad. Insulting to my intelligence bad. For a major studio release, a planned tentpole franchise film with the kind of budget they had, there's no excuse. That script was absolutely terrible, from charcterization to plot to dialogue.

Good job, Geoff!
Vadakin - 2/21/2013, 7:41 AM
Green Lantern WAS mediocre. It was...bland and uninspired. It wasn't terrible, it just wasn't interesting. And maybe that is bad. But when I think bad, I think of Transformers 2 and GL certainly wasn't on that level. To me it felt like a movie that was going through the motions.
Chewtoy - 2/21/2013, 7:47 AM
There is not going to be a Green Lantern reboot. That's the first thing to face. I'm sure there is the potential for a good film series there, but the studio swung and missed and will move on.

The Hulk got multiple shots because he was in that sweet spot of being a comic book hero that was well known to general audiences at a time when comic movies were the rage, and also from an old, well liked TV show which lined up with old TV show remake films being all the rage as well.. Then add that the rights changed studio hands and he was literally and figuratively the biggest main character that Marvel Studios had the rights to put into their films.

Green Lantern has none of that going for him. All of The DC properties are going to come out of WB, they can only afford so many tent pole effects type films, and the list of possible candidates is long. "Green Lantern"'s main, damning failure is that it didn't make it easier to sell "Green Lantern 2" to audiences. (Or "Green Lantern: the reboot").
EdgyOutsider - 2/21/2013, 7:47 AM
@ACira: It's partly the telepathy thats a turn off somewhat to me. It's not going to be something to look forward to and it'll still come off rather cartoony. While yes, the NEW 52 shows that an Aquaman movie could be interesting and is something that needs a serious and dark tone. A light hearted, fun Aquaman movie wouldn't help him at all. But, it's also his powers. I've never found anything cool about them.
BIGBMH - 2/21/2013, 7:55 AM
"The truth is, Green Lantern wasn't a bad movie"

I agree with most of what you said after that. When I wrote my review, one of the main things I thought they screwed up on was the scale. That's one of the things that could really have made it feel unique. Instead, it just felt like a sci-fi heavy version of the generic superhero origin movie formula.
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