So, Warner Bros. has decided that it’s going to go through with a Green Lantern sequel, despite the poor showing the movie has had at the box office. As someone who didn’t hate the movie, I’m somewhat ambivalently positive about the news, if only because I’d like to see a second attempt better the first. But in order to do so, it’ll have to learn the following five lessons.
Use The Concept
Green Lantern as a comic has a great concept: Space cops with magic wishing rings. The movie hints at this – We see Oa, we see other Green Lanterns and, again, get told that all of this is important – but when it comes down to it, Hal acts like a generic superhero/rebel off on his own to save the day. Next time around, use the Corps as something other than toyetic backdrop, and demonstrate the differences between Green Lantern and other superheroes.
Simplify, Simplify, Simplify
Between Hector Hammond and Parallax, it feels at times as if Green Lantern is trying to be both Iron Man and Iron Man 2 at the same time. Add in the need to also introduce Hal, Ferris Aircraft and supporting characters (Oh, Tom, you really got no respect this time around) and the Corps/Guardians, and Green Lantern ends up far, far busier than any movie should be. With all of the introductions out of the way – we’ve even met the presumed villain of the next movie already, if the mid-credits sequence is anything to go by! – it’d be nice to think that the next movie could relax and concentrate on the more important things, instead. Like telling a coherent story.
Work Out What The Movie Is About
One of Green Lantern‘s biggest problems is that it’s not actually about anything other than itself. Sure, it talks about Hal overcoming fear and yadda yadda but, really, what actually happens with that beyond Carol telling him that he can do it? Well, he flies into the sun and, uh… Yeah. Stuff happens. It’s odd; Green Lantern the movie spends a ridiculous amount of time spelling out the mythology of the Corps, the rings, and so own, and then forgets to actually do anything with it: Hal is weak until the plot needs him to be strong, and so on. There’s too much going on, plotwise – too many characters there for it to be anything else, as well – for the film to do anything with all the themes that it introduces, and as a result, it becomes a movie where things happen just because we need to get to the next visual effects sequence. Unless the effects are breaking new ground, that’s not enough to make anyone interested.
Own Your Tone
For all the talk about Lantern being Star Wars meets Lord of The Rings, there were moments during the movie where it felt as if the screenwriters couldn’t quite deal with the gravitas that mash-up deserved, and threw in self-conscious jabs at some of the source material – The oath, the mask, etc. The problem with doing so is, you cheapen the source material at a time when you need to strengthen it (At least, have one character stand up for the same thing another one had badmouthed, to even things out, slightly), and you remind everyone watching that the whole thing really is too ridiculous to take seriously… which is a problem when you want them to care about beating the bad guy at the end of the movie. Why get emotionally invested when even the moviemakers think the whole thing is dumb enough to make fun of?
Overly Faithful Is The Enemy
Green Lantern felt amazingly faithful to the Geoff Johns comics of the last few years – much to its detriment. Being too faithful to source material can be a very, very bad thing indeed: Compare, say Batman Begins (which definitely draws a lot from the comics, especially Year One) to Watchmen for a quick education in the ways in which cinema and comics are different languages, if ones that overlap at times (Alternatively, watch The Spirit for a quicker lesson in the same thing; Frank Miller is a great comic book artist, but a middling movie director). There are a lot of great ideas buried in the Green Lantern mythos, but the way to bring them to movie audiences isn’t just putting what’s in the comics on screen.
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