When the first Green Lantern film was announced, I was ecstatic. My favorite comic book at the time was being adapted into a live-action film by one of my favorite action directors, Martin Campbell (Goldeneye, Casino Royale). Geoff Johns, the writer of GL at the time, was even brought in to help out with the film. How could this go wrong?!? Well, it did and it derailed Warner Bros. plans for a shared DC Universe film slate, at least for a while.
For the record, the problem with Green Lantern wasn’t the cast. The total sum of that movie’s problems can be laid at the feet of the producers, writers and director. It went off the rails because there were too many conductors who crammed too much story into too small a space and lost all perspective on developing characters. Not to mention some dodgy effects and ideas that should have been fleshed out a bit more instead of rewriting the thing a dozen times. But I digress…
Now, we’ve got a shared DC Cinematic Universe currently under construction. Naturally, fans are skeptical. Who wouldn’t be after the 2011 GL film? Man of Steel (described by some as a #0 issue to the DCCU) was a much better start, though fans are still divided over it. It’s a shaky start, no doubt. But there’s way more potential now than in 2011 and that brings us to the final (or is it?) DCCU Sellers Points Breakdown: Green Lantern!
In brightest day…
In 2011 WB spent about $200 million to bring Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps to the big screen. It grossed a total of $219 million worldwide…that’s a fairly hard flop. Why would anybody want to revisit a property that performed so poorly from the start? Because it had a strong opening day before word of mouth spread about how terrible it was. Critics were largely ignored on the Friday opening, but the quick drop off showed how fast word spread that the movie was a bomb. And the hype leading into the movie was strong, too. It was one of the most highly anticipated movies of the year, especially by comic book fans. In the end, everyone was let down.
This time around, the budget is likely to be much smaller. I’d say by at least $30 million, maybe more. This isn’t without precedent, either. Superman Returns cost upwards of $270 million to make and when WB decided to reboot with Man of Steel, the price tag was about $225 million. MoS was also far more successful for WB than SR was, so that paid off. Can Green Lantern achieve the same? We can only hope.
It makes sense to keep the budget smaller and the story more focused on characters rather than flashy effects, too. There will still need to be some big set pieces and slick visuals, but the primary way to make this movie successful, from a budget standpoint, is to keep it from becoming overinflated. I mean that in terms of money spent and story written.
This is likely GL’s last chance, too. If this movie doesn’t work the second time around, don’t count on seeing any more of them. At least, not for a really long time. WB doesn’t keep up with the fandom in the same way that you and I might. They see success as dollars and cents. If audiences don’t return on their investment, they’ll move on to a different project until they find one that works. Then they’ll have Peter Jackson make too many of them, but it’ll look epic so you’ll still spend money on it…off topic, sorry.
Movie franchises are usually only given so many chances, but Green Lantern has a built-in fan base that’s ready to support a movie series, if it’s good. And if the DCCU is to survive, it needs a strong GL franchise in place. Superman and Batman have proven successful, but they can’t carry the entire film universe on their own.
Beware my power…
This new movie is not going to be a sequel to the 2011 film as WB/DC want to put some real distance between that movie and their new franchise. That’s probably why this reboot was saved for last in the current lineup of DC films.
While the 2011 version threw way too many concepts at the audience at once and bogged itself down in exposition, the new film needs to take a more truncated approach. The idea of an intergalactic police force that recruits members from around the universe isn’t too much. Nor is the idea that they use the emotion of willpower (kind of like the force in Star Wars) to power their rings. But maybe leave Parallax and the wider idea of the emotional spectrum out of it for now. Drop hints, but that’s as far as it should go.
A Guardians of the Galaxy approach might be a better idea. It’s likely we’ll see a Green Lantern in Justice League Parts 1 and 2, so this movie isn’t likely to be an origin story. There might be some flashbacks to it, but not necessarily a full retelling of it. Most of the flashbacks should center on Hal’s training with Kilowog and his partnership/friendship with Sinestro. The main focus of the film will hopefully follow the fall of Sinestro or take place in the aftermath of his betrayal while establishing the concept of the Green Lantern Corps. We’ll have seen a good bit of Earth-based action in the Justice League films, so it’s time to see some cosmic adventure.
While I personally think it’s time to give John Stewart a chance to shine, the truth is Hal Jordan is the franchise and is going to be the Green Lantern we see in both Justice League and this film. And that’s perfectly fine. Hal is the most popular GL and the emotional arc he has to explore with Sinestro is worth exploring in more depth. The perfect way to present this would be for Sinestro to turn early and a new GL introduced to partner with Hal Jordan in hunting down the now rogue lantern. Enter John Stewart! Buddy-cop action/sci-fi/comedy would work perfectly for this character.
One thing’s for sure, whoever steps in to become our new favorite ring-slinger needs to be able to charm audiences in a similar manner that Chris Pratt managed as Peter Quill. And, just to be clear, as charming as Nathan Fillion might be, he’s not getting this part. WB is looking for somebody younger who can have a new franchise built around them. Fillion is good…great, even. But that ship has sailed for him and he’s got plenty of other things going on, anyway.
There have been lots of rumors about who might wield the ring next. Chris Pine, Bradley Cooper, Armie Hammer…and just this week a no-name in Dan Amboyer (who’s playing a small part listed as “Drone Pilot” in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice). Are any of these likely? Cooper you could rule out because of his Marvel Studios involvement. Pine was supposedly considered around the time of the first movie, but for whatever reason didn’t land it. Armie Hammer, coming off working with Henry Cavill (Man of Steel) on the Man from U.N.C.L.E., might be viable as the two appeared to have a good bit of chemistry in the first trailer. Amboyer has a good look, but it remains to be seen if he can pull off that kind of character. And it’s highly doubtful we’ll see much, if any, of that from his performance as “Drone Pilot.” Sometimes a drone pilot is just a drone pilot, guys.
If I had it my way, I’d go with Jensen Ackles (Supernatural). He’s got the look and the personality to pull off the role, however he’s not as likely due to being far more experienced in TV acting and you never know…he might find his way over to the Arrow/Flash universe someday…hopefully, anyway. One guy I’m pretty sure isn’t going to get the role…Tyrese Gibson. Sorry man, but most actors who lobby so hard for a part don’t traditionally get it. Don’t feel too bad, though. Denzel Washington has been rumored before and that one’s just not happening either. Combine the reasons Nathan Fillion isn’t getting it with which GL is more likely to be featured and…well, it should be clear.
A director has yet to be announced, but it’s unlikely we’ll see Martin Campbell coming back. Fanboy dream would be JJ Abrams, but that’s not likely. Guillermo del Toro would be another, though he’s supposedly wrapped up with his Dark Universe/Justice League Dark adaptation. Gavin Hood (Ender’s Game) has a visual style that would work well and he’s not too bad at understanding character development arcs. Whoever sits in the chair needs to have a cohesive vision with their writers and producers. No more cramming tons of concepts into a small space and try to keep it to just one villain. Maybe hire a better effects team and leave the mo-cap suits for those playing non-human GLs.
Green Lantern’s Light!
Those of us who felt so let down in 2011 are still holding out hope for a brighter future. If Batman v Superman is a winner, we’ll have even more reason to believe in those charting the course for an eventual Green Lantern return.
Things are relatively quiet about this film for now because it’s still around five years away. As it gets closer, though, rumors and speculation will pick up. I’ve offered up my own speculation on it, but that’s all it is and will likely ever be. I stand by my assertion that John Stewart would be a more interesting choice for the lead character, but I also know that Hal Jordan is the top Lantern in terms of popularity and sales. Like it or not, that’s the near-definitive choice for WB/DC at this point.
I doubt we’ll hear much about casting anytime soon, but if Hal Jordan does appear in Batman v Superman, it would be a welcome addition to the film mythos. Cameos can be just that…short and sweet. He doesn’t need the spotlight yet. He’ll get it in time. If it’s just something simple like a name tag and a quick smirk, that’s all it has to be. The future can be bright and I choose to embrace it as such. Be it in comics or in film, I will always find a Green Lantern story to love. Now, while you’re waiting, go queue up the GL Animated Series on Netflix and get lost in how good it was. Seriously, that show died long before its time and more people need to see it.