If there was one thing that critics and comic book fans agreed on this summer it was that Green Lantern was one big let down. While there are those who may have enjoyed the experience, it’s clear that the movie did not make the splash that Iron Man, The Dark Knight had made in recent years or even Captain America or Thor made this summer. In the conversation about this year’s superhero movies, Green Lantern has all but disappeared.
This past weekend saw the premiere of Green Lantern: The Animated Series, a computer animated cartoon show that was surprisingly enjoyable and avoided a lot of the problems the film fell into. It leaves one to wonder, why does the cartoon succeed where the movie failed?
As a long time Green Lantern fan, I had high hopes for the movie and went in hoping for the best. My criticisms come from a place of love; I am hard on this movie because I recognize how great it could have been, not because I hate Green Lantern or think superheroes are silly. My goal is not to simply make fun of the movie; it’s to further investigate and better understand what went wrong. This is a movie I actively want to enjoy, but the reasons below keep me from doing so…
#1 Opening Narration
You may be familiar with the old adage of screen writing: show, don’t tell. This movie opens with a little speech from Tomar-Re, explaining what Green Lanterns are and giving back story for the events leading up to the start of the story. Whenever you see this in a movie it’s a bad sign. The fact that Green Lantern is not as well know as other superheroes is no excuse either.
Think of how perfect the opening to Richard Donner’s 1978 movie Superman is. It succinctly and gloriously re-tells the comics origin of Superman and explains the Kryptonian world he originates from and bang… we are into the story.
Going this long-winded opening narration route instantly turned me off as a viewer. Green Lantern is not off to a great start.
#2 The Movie Starts with Alien Astronauts
After the cringe inspiring monologue, we see some Aliens on a strange world. This is not easy to relate to for the audience, especially those not familiar with the Green Lantern lore. It would have been a much wiser to start off with the flashback to Hal’s father dying. That immediately pulls the audience in with the human element. It could even have been a nightmare he was having before waking up in the next scene.
Cliched maybe, but sometimes cliche is the right move, especially in a movie like Green Lantern that has so many other elements that makes the character different from others.
#3 The Main Villain
It’s just a big cloud that moves slowly through space. Riiiiiiight.
#4 Introducing Hal Jordan
Hal’s first scene involves him waking up from a one night stand. When Iron Man had Tony Stark do this, we’d already seen him get injured and kidnapped by terrorists, so even though he’s still somewhat of a jerk, he still has our sympathy. Hal is just a douchebag and we’re left to wonder why we should root for him, other than he’s the main character we are stuck with on this journey.
#5 Reckless Driving
Hal almost kills people while speeding. Why was he speeding? He was late for work. Why? He overslept after a one night stand. This behavior doesn’t make him endearing or easy to relate to;
it just makes him a terrible person. And as opposed to when Bruce Wayne or Tony Stark acts like an asshole, we haven’t got any deep reasoning for this behaviour. Shame we couldn’t change the channel in the theatre.