Wednesday, 29 August 2012

In brightest day, in blackest night, where should Green Lantern shine his light next?

I had the occasion to take a look at Green Lantern again recently through my ongoing DVD rentals for this blog and I thought I would do something a little different this time. Part of what I am going to do is review the film itself but I am also going to talk about what I think should be the next step in DC Comics and Warner Brothers attempts to get a cinematic universe off the ground, because I believe that in order to get anywhere, they do have to include Green Lantern in the process.
Recently, Zack Snyder, director of the highly anticipated Man of Steel was asked about the possibility of a bigger plan like what Marvel did with The Avengers stemming from the afore mentioned Superman movie Man of Steel. He said that at the moment Warner Brothers and DC Comics were more interested in getting their cinematic superhero characters in order before looking into something like that but that they were open to it. And with recent reports of attempts to get a Justice League movie off the ground, one can only assume that the idea of where this all might be heading is in the executive minds. But I think he was right to say that they need to get their cinematic superhero house in order first.
This is evident by taking a look at things like Superman Returns and Green Lantern, they may have been really well done but they left much to be desired from both non-fans and fans alike given their general reception. They did well in the theatres but in the world of superhero movies, doing well at the box office just isn’t good enough. You only need to look as far as Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight Legend trilogy to see what it’s like to do well at the box office AND be widely praised by anyone who might go to the theatre. Green Lantern had such a problem. I thought very well of it as someone who doesn’t know the character that well but is a big fan of superheroes, but I didn’t love it. As a filmmaker, I could see many of the things that they were trying to do and in some places they succeeded, but overall the story elements just didn’t click as well as they needed to so that they could really shine.
Where I think they ultimately failed is in the use of fear as their primary driving theme. It’s a great theme as many who went to see Batman Begins will attest to, but it’s because of its use in Batman Begins that it ended up falling flat. They wanted to show that fear was not the only element or tactic that you need to use in order to be a hero, but the characters were so often bogged down by fears that were never really articulated well enough that they made a serious impact on the story. Not to mention, fear is not the only emotion that needs to be put forward when doing a Green Lantern movie. Recent years in the comics have introduced numerous other Lantern Corps based on different elements of the emotional spectrum. I am by no means suggesting that you should come out of the gate with all these different Corps in a new movie, but the elements were all there in the previous movie. There was love, hope, courage, greed, anger, compassion, and potentially even life and death.
All of these other elements took a backseat to fear, although there has been some suggestion that the others might make an appearance in future installments, as a way of in some ways seeming to compete with Batman and the powerful themes and ideals that are pervasive in Christopher Nolan’s films even if that wasn’t their intention. This was a mistake, and one they need to rectify if they are going to move beyond their fear of Batman being their only superhero at the box office.

Will power, or the will to act, is often either fueled by or creates a bi-product of emotion. If I have felt the power of love, I find the will to act out of love. If I have felt anger, I find the will to act out of anger. And often doing so leads to other emotions from which to draw strength. All these elements were in the film but were not fully realized in the story itself. So I say...
In brightest day, in blackest night, where should Green Lantern shine his light next? Into a broader emotional spectrum of themes.

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