Saturday, January 29, 2011

Bad Buzz On the Green Lantern?

By Christian Nicholson

The buzz is that the Green Lantern movie is pretty bad.  Rumors abound that the production was troubled, blah blah blah, tepid reaction from the the fans as regards the trailer, and so on.  I'd really rather not judge a whole movie based upon the trailer, or upon rumors of how the production went, or even on the movie studio and its history, but in this case all of those things really do concern me.

Warner isn't really known for getting their superhero films right.  It amazes me how you can have access to the best talent in the business and still not get it right.  By and large, their films scream "Corporate Control," more than anything else.  You can see the suits calling the shots and coming up short on the creative end.  Of course, Batman Begins, and Dark Knight are notable exceptions.  It's no shock to me why so much of these films were shot and produced in countries other than LA.  If you as a suit want to fuck with the production a bit, you are going to have to fly to some way out of the way location like Scotland, or Mongolia, or Chicago.  Nolan and crew make sure there are enough "villains" to make toys from for each flick to keep the Licensing Department is happy.  Warner's Superman Returns production was a classic custer fuck of a movie.  Right about the time Marvel was moving forward with their ambitious Avengers project, Warner managed to start Justice League and Wonder Woman, and let them both die on the vine.

The current Green Lantern thing is actual their (at least) second go around.  The first was rumored to star Jack Black.  Imagine that, for a moment, Lantern fans.  Green Lantern getting the Greatest American Hero treatment.  I actually think Ryan Reynolds could carry Hal Jordan, but not if they have him do his standard "Cusp of Manhood" thing.   Hal isn't really known for being a character with a lot of nuance.  Hal Jordan is basically a test pilot.  Which is actually pretty cool.  The character was created right about the time The US was in the Space Race with Russia, and Astronauts were all the rage.  DC wanted their own spaceman to tap into some of the sci-fi that was coming up.  For my money, Hal Jordan should basically be one of the guys from The Right Stuff.  Maybe not one of the charaters, but you should expect him to sit at a table with them and not be out of place.  Hell, if you want to update Hal a bit, make him one of the Top Gun guys.

Which is where we get to the trailer.  We can see pretty much early on that we are getting (yet again) the Origin of the Superhero. 

I might as well interject now and say I'm getting really tired of the first story they decide to tell being the Origin.  We are talking about charcters who are forty to eighty years old in real time.  Characters who have never really left the cultural consciousness.  We all know Superman came from Krypton, Spider-Man was bit by a radiactive spider, Hulk was irradiated with Gamma Rays, X-Men were born special, Iron Man built his suit in a cave to escape his captors, and on and on and on.  We can actually skip that and move on to more interesting things.  The thing is, though, Hollywood does the origin thing pretty well, and Origin stories (for the most part) lend themselves well to the Hollywood screenplay structure.  Most origin stories have been refined for the duration of the characters existence, so the suits can take the best elements from the various tellings and make their own interperetation of the character.  God forbid they should actually adapt a story, or tell an original one.

It seems like the vogue nowadays in the Origin is that the hero more or less has an internal 'thing" to ovecome to become the hero.  Batman had fear, Spider-Man had responsibity, Fantatic Four had acceptance of their fate, Wolverine had the beast within, Daredevil also had fear, and a genuine disability.   Clearly, the suits have decided that Hal Jordan's "thing" is that he's basically irresponsible, and also fearful, which is something  I find concerning.  We can expect Ryan Reynolds to be able to do that interperetation of the character pretty well, because those are variations on the "cusp of manhood" theme.

The problem is, though, irresponsibility and fear aren't really Hal Jordan characteristics.  Not even a little bit.  Not even something that he has to overcome to find the hero in himself.  Hal is the guy who accepts the responsibility of being a hero straightaway, finds the willpower to ignore his fear, and do what needs to be done.  He always has been.  Hal Jordan was the guy with the right stuff, but didn't get to be an astronaut because of circumstance, not because he couldn't hack it.  When he got the chance, he took it.  It's like if Chuck Yeager got a Lantern Ring.  As far as being a hero is concerned, Hal has never gotten it wrong  (except for the whole Parallax thing).  If there is a character at all (other than Superman) who doesn't really need an internal "thing" to overcome to be a hero, it's Hal Jordan.  Its one of the reasons we like Hal so much.  He's a genuine hero through and through.  I suspect Warner is getting the character wrong.  If they are getting the charcter wrong, they are getting the whole thing wrong.

Giving Hal an internal crisis may be a way of making him accessible, and perhaps believeable.  For my money, though, it makes him less heroic.  There are those folks out there who actually do handle their business heroically, without crying, complaining, and hours of talk therapy.  I'd actually like to see a character study about those kinds of heroes.  A movie about Hal Jordan should be one of those, instead of lessening the character to meet our lesser standards for heroism.

And about that trailer:  it's really pretty sad that we find the fan-made trailer way more exciting than the official one.  Maybe DC should try letting a production team who are actually fans of the material make the movies.

1 comment:

  1. I think it was AWFULLY big of you to not point out that they basically made Hal Jordan into Tony Stark.