I’ll admit it: The new Green Lantern footage that premiered at Wondercon – Is it a trailer? I guess it’s a trailer, right? – was much more Green Lantern-y than the first scenes we’d seen from the movie, and much more comforting to fans of the character as a result. Should Warners have waited so long before showing off Oa and the Corps to the world?
Part of that question is easily answered: Yes, because they didn’t have a choice. If rumors are to be believed – and, in this case, I think they comfortably can be – then the reason it’s taken this long for the scenes on Oa of the Corps to surface is that the effects work is still being finished, and there literally wasn’t enough completed effects footage to put into the first trailer. If you look at this new footage, there’s still a feeling that it’s not entirely done yet (Is it just me, or is there something off about Mark Strong’s Sinestro? Not just his look, which doesn’t seem to fully fit into his surroundings, but also his voice, which sounds as if it’s been untreated and remains a bit too-in-the-studio compared with everything else going on?), after all. If they’re rushing to get it done by April 2011, it’s not a massive leap to imagine there was a lack of usable effects footage for the first trailer’s debut last November.
This raises the immediate next question, “Did the movie need a November trailer, then?” That one is a little more difficult to address. Does a movie need a trailer eight months before its release? Well… yes and no. I mean, realistically, no – Look at Captain America, which kept everything under wraps until just recently, with its release three months away – but there’s some kind of mindset about the need to provide proof of concept for fans and prospective moviegoers that blockbusters get locked into, where sooner is always better (Hi, Amazing Spider-Man costume pics, released eighteen months before the projected release date!) that almost locked Lantern into some kind of tease that far ahead of time. The alternative would have been risking bad buzz wondering what was going so wrong behind the scenes that we hadn’t seen anything.
And yet… the first trailer risked its own kind of bad buzz. Look at the uneven tone, the way the costume looked, the lack of spectacle: As a trailer, it seemed unsure what kind of movie it was advertising. You can almost imagine the conversation involved before putting it together (“We’ll start with some scenes making it look like another Ryan Reynolds romantic comedy, and then bring in the love interest and make it look like Top Gun before we unveil the superhero stuff. But keep it light. Don’t make it too scary to Reynolds’ fanbase”), but it doesn’t work. And part of why it doesn’t work is the lack of everything that this new trailer was all about – the “look at this” factor, the epic scale of Oa, the Corps and the threat. For the first trailer to have really sold the movie as an experience instead of some generic superhero movie, it needed… well, the second trailer. Except those scenes weren’t ready yet.
So, should Warners have waited so long before showing Oa and the Green Lantern Corps to the world? No; it should’ve been the punchline to the first trailer, the “Hal has left the familiar and entered this” moment. But, because they couldn’t do that, they should’ve bitten the bullet and held off showing anything beyond teases until they could include that footage. The new trailer isn’t perfect, but it’s impressive and ambitious and seems like it comes from a much better movie than the first trailer did – but how many people aren’t paying attention anymore because that first trailer disappointed them or killed their interest?