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Five More Creative Ways to Make Green Lantern 2 A Better Film (Rather Than Just “Darker and Edgier”)…

Green Lantern was a disappointment. Along with Marvel’s Daredevil, the Green Lantern series has been perhaps the strongest mainstream superhero title published in the past decade, and Warner Brothers couldn’t manage to produce a decent film. This was supposed to be the company’s first superhero franchise outside of the tried-and-tested Batman and Superman properties, and it fell flat. Nevertheless, Warners have vowed to press on with the sequel, daring to produce a “darker and edgier” follow-up to the film. Ignoring the fact that not all superheroes need to be “darker and edgier”, it still ignores the fact that the problems with Martin Campbell’s would-be franchise launcher had very little to do with being too light or soft. Here are five pieces of advice that the executive would do well to take on board, before deciding to simply “go darker.”

The sequel... Dark Green Lantern...

You Can Tell a Good Earth Green Lantern Story, or a Good Space Green Lantern Story; Just Don’t Try To Do It All At Once…

Is the franchise already off to a rocky start?

I’ll concede that, of late, most of the great Green Lantern stories have taken place in outer space, featuring copious amounts of aliens and multi-coloured Lanterns and so forth. I think there’s a story that can be told there, that would make great popcorn cinema. If you look at Green lantern’s Earth-based foes, they don’t quite get the adrenaline flowing. There’s Shark, a giant, intelligent… well, you can guess. There’s the Black Hand, who is like the Riddler, but with puns. There are characters with names like Sonar and Major Disaster and Doctor Polaris, none of whom are especially fascinating. But you know what? Hector Hammond didn’t sound too cool either, and the giant-headed sleaze was the one element of the movie that actually worked.

Just pick an aspect of the fictional universe and focus on it. Don’t try to be a bit of everything. The biggest problem with the movie was that there was no room to simply admire all the amazing stuff that was happening – the movie was rushing to the next plot point in order to fit everything in on time. Don’t try to please everyone, and don’t try to hedge your bets. You can have the token romantic subplot, but it doesn’t work when it has to compete for space against the epic space battles. You can include the stupid comic relief friend, but don’t do a training montage on Oa at the same time. It feels like you’re checking items off some sort of plot list rather than telling a story.

Viewers Aren’t Morons, Don’t Give Them The Same Exposition Over and Over Again

Don't let the exposition get out of hand...

You know what? I once argued that Geoff Johns’ take on Green Lantern could be like Star Wars. I still think that, albeit with a lot less enthusiasm. Like Green Lantern, Star Wars has a fairly simply character arc, a bunch of aliens that skirt the line between impressive and cheesy, quasi-mystical plot points, and a rich sense of history anchored in a pulp tradition. However, Star Wars doesn’t have the same level of clunky exposition. The moment we all accepted that The Phantom Menace sucked was the moment that Liam Neeson exposited a bunch of nonsense about how the Force was a bunch of micro-organisms. Things were better when they were vague, but explained in enough detail it was easy to follow.

Green Lantern explains who Parallax is, how he was imprisoned, and who imprisoned him, at least three times. Twice in the opening few minutes. Indeed, Geoffrey Rush’s opening monologue just explains that Abin Sur defeated him, and then suddenly Sinestro and Abin Sur are talking about him again. Half the movie is spent talking about things that have already been explained. And the film is so scared that the viewers may have intuit something, or use logic, that it takes the joy out of everything by explaining it death before it happens. It would have been a better movie if Parallax hadn’t been explained four or five times before the climax, or if we didn’t spend so long on the mechanics of a ring that we simply need to accept works. And if you have to talk about it, make it interesting. Have Parallax as a mystery, and make his reveal an event. Don’t give us a character delivering a minor biography.

Make It Awesome

Don't make it up on the fly...

You know what’s awesome? Space and aliens. You know what’s not awesome? Treating them like you’re making some dull procedural drama. Most of the action takes place on Earth, which is fine, but when we see space, it’s always a dull black void.  know most of space is that, but we like to pretend it isn’t. Why couldn’t Sinestro confront Parallax in the atmosphere of a planet like Pandora? Or in the heart of a nebula? Why did the only planet other than Earth, Oa, look so freakin’ dull.

Green Lantern has something that Iron Man, Superman, Batman and Captain America don’t. He has an entire army of people just like him. And yet all everybody except Hal seems to do is wander around Oa whining and moaning. Imagine seeing Sinestro in action on his home planet when he hears the news of Abin Sur’s death? Or a Green Lantern doing their day-to-day job like deflecting giant asteroids or taming wild space monsters. Hal seems to be the most interesting member of the Corps, which is kinda sad because they really needed to…

Give Hal An Arc

Hal for one?

Hal begins the movie as an arrogant son-of-a-gun who plays by his own rules and doesn’t need anybody else’s help to do his job. Somewhere in the middle, Hal has a bit of a whine about something or other, wondering why he was chosen. Then, at the end of the film, Hal is an arrogant son-of-a-gun who plays by his own rules and doesn’t need anybody else’s help to do his job. The movie suggests that Hal needs to learn that he’s not alone, but the movie ends with him single-handedly vanquishing Parallax (with only a last-minute, second-thought visit from some friends). Hal asking for help was kinda pointless, since he did it all single-handed.

You know what was awesome in Star Wars, to return to a point? When Han Solo was a selfish prick and decided to abandon his friends… and then came back to help Luke during the run on the Death Star. I mean, wow. That was the moment you realised that Luke wasn’t alone. Hal could have used a similar moment here, with a bunch of Lanterns sneaking out after dark to save his bacon, and leaving him free to tackle the matter at hand. I don’t think Hal is any different than when he started his adventure, and that’s a problem. He pays lip service to change, but the movie doesn’t show us any of it. I think we expect more of superheroes these days, and I think that’s one of the reasons it didn’t work.

Focus on the Story You’re Telling

Saving something Sinestro for the sequel...

This is simple. I won’t want to see a sequel, unless you convince me that this is a good movie. Christopher Nolan is quoted as saying that he never held anything back in making Batman Begins or The Dark Knight, and it’s something that stands to him. There’s no point saving all the awesomeness for a movie yet to come, and no point wasting time setting up plot points in a film that nobody’s going to be interested in. The two hours in front of me are what I care about. Convince me to give a damn about the character in that time.

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2 Responses

  1. Oh man Darren, you just reminded me of how bad this film was.I sort of convinced myself it was ok, and I went in expecting nothing, so was kind of satisfied. But you just brought it all back. It was shit, wasn’t it?
    I recall the whole manhunter stuff being interesting, possible sequel material?
    Although at this stage, I doubt they’ll even make one

    • It’s officially in doubt, despite all the pre-release hype about having a trilogy planned out. Not that I blame them. Surely the script should have wanred somebody to cool the jets on development.

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