Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Green Lantern - let's make this happen!

Of the many comic book superhero movies that are in the works, the one that has me the most excited right now is Green Lantern. In all honesty, in my 23 years of reading comics, I've only been loyally following GL for the past few years, but I've definitely become a big fan. So far, what I've heard about the movie has given me some hope, as the director, Greg Berlanti, seems to understand the key concept of the character, and the screenwriters have written actual comic books along with various TV and movie scripts.

Now, I'm very tempted to geek-out and go into the complex history of Green Lantern, but let's just leave it at this - there have been many different versions of the character and there's a really expansive and rich mythology with which to work. Basically, Green Lantern is a space-cop, appointed by the mysterious Guardians of the Universe to patrol a specific sector of space. He's given a power-ring which enables him to create anything that comes to his mind, but only those with tremendous willpower are even able to wield it. There are other Green Lanterns throughout the universe, and there has been more than one from Earth. The one in which they'll be focusing on in the movie is the one who debuted in 1959 - Hal Jordan, a test pilot who's known for being a bit of a maverick (Damn you for ruining that word, McCain!) who's not afraid to question orders - even questioning the god-like Guardians from time to time.

I think that they can make a great movie with him for the simple fact that he's an interesting character. One thing that really illustrates his personality is that he refuses to wear his power ring while he's in his civilian identity. Keep in mind that he's a test-pilot who risks his life on a regular basis. Wearing that ring could mean the difference between life and death, but he feels that having that kind of security is like cheating. This, of course, adds to his heroism, and it makes it clear that his daring is due more to genuine bravery than foolish cockiness.

What also could be great is if they set up the whole thing as a trilogy, using some stories from the recent comics as a template. The first movie would, of course, be his origin story. In that, there's potential for all sorts of great scenes as he travels to Oa, the home of the Guardians and encounters Green Lanterns from throughout the universe. (Of course, this will only be as cool as the special effects will allow, but it definitely could add to a great sense of wonder if done right.) Also, the film could introduce Sinestro (although I think that I wouldn't mind it if they changed his name - as it sounds too obviously evil). Sinestro is a fellow Green Lantern, known throughout the universe as the "greatest" Green Lantern, as his sector of space is the most orderly. As for the villain, I kinda like Hector Hammond, a guy with a huge head and telepathic powers who is envious of Hal Jordan's successful personal life. (Hal gets it on with a lot of babes.) There are some other good ones as well, including The Black Hand, Star Sapphire, and Doctor Polaris.

The second film should deal with the Manhunters - a group of robots that the Guardians created long before the established the Green Lantern Corps. The problem with the Manhunters is that they were too good at their jobs, and they felt no emotion. As a result, they wound up killing every living being that they could get their hands on, as they logically concluded that without sentient life there are no problems. Also, this movie should reveal that the reason why Sinestro's sector of space is so orderly is because he basically started to rule it like a tyrant. Obviously, this would put him at odds with the Guardians of the Universe, and he'll go rogue and get his yellow power ring. The movie could end with him defeated but having escaped the final battle with Hal Jordan. Of course, this sets up all sorts of good possibilities for drama, as Hal and Sinestro start off as friends, but the friendship ultimately deteriorates. Think of the Batman/Two Face dynamic with the sort of bond that could exist between fellow soldiers.

The third film would have the return of Sinestro and the creation of the Sinestro Corps - a group of "Yellow Lanterns" who are chosen not because of their tremendous willpower, but because of their ability to spread fear. This could round out the trilogy very nicely with an epic space-battle between the two opposing forces. And of course, there would be the carryover of the relationship dynamic between Hal and Sinestro from the last movie. Also, there's something cool about the notion that willpower is ultimately more powerful than fear - it's a nice message that we have some control over our lives and how we deal with the problems we face.

So, here's hoping that they do something like that instead of just making a movie and then trying to shoe-horn some kind of trilogy-like plot. Hopefully they're thinking ahead with these things, and hopefully Green Lantern will get the Iron Man treatment - a non-household name superhero with one of the better superhero movies.

1 comment:

David S. said...

The animated feature "Green Lantern: First Flight" basically followed your interpretation of a good 1st GL movie in that:
1. Hal Jordan meets Abin Sur while he was dying and inherits The Ring
2. Hal gets a summons to Oa by The Green Lantern Corp.
3. Sinestro offers to train Hal Jordan while secretly tests him as a possible co-conspirator to overthrow The Guardians, then frames him as a traitor
4. Hal, with the help of Kilowog, clears his name, proves that Sinestro is the real traitor, and fights him after The Weaponmakers of Qward gives Sinestro a yellow power ring and lantern to accomplish his goal of revenge against The Corp and The Guardians.
5. Hal discovers a surviving fragment of the Master Lantern Battery, re-ignites it, absorbs the energy into himself, overpowers Sinestro's battery and ring, restores order to The Corp, receives a commendation from The Guardians and returns to Earth without revealing to anyone there that he has become a space cop/superhero.

The current ads that I've seen for the new "Green Lantern" has him telling several people what happened to him, has him talking to a lady pilot (possibly The New Carol Ferris, it doesn't currently say) and we see glimpses of a purplish humanoid with a large head (either Hector Hammond or The New Sinestro, it doesn't currently say), Star Sapphire and Kilowog. Unless the later previews and promotional packages give us a solid idea of what to expect, it looks like another example of "old time superheroes with secret identities and double-lives are so passe" that we've been treated to since Iron Man I & II took that "maverick" route.