June 5, 2008

Next Big Superhero Movie

You NAPP Readers have picked the next big superhero movie. Despite a late-poll surge from Thor, you generally seem to want a movie about Green Lantern. According to Daily Variety, this has actually been in the works for about eighteen months, with Gregg Berlanti, whose credits include a variety of TV serial dramas like "Dawson's Creek" and "Dirty Sexy Money" directing and Michael Green, whose writing credits include the TV series "Heroes" on the script. There aren't any more recent mentions of it, though. I've also heard that Kevin Smith of "Jay and Silent Bob" fame would be doing the Green Lantern movie, but that may be more because he would really want to do it.

A Green Lantern movie offers the opportunity for some really cool CGI. The Green Lantern's super power -- harnessing the primal energies of the universe with the force of his willpower, through his ring, to create a variety of objects and energies that he uses against his super enemies -- could be really, really good to see. I can imagine glowing-green jet airplanes and luminous swords used in fights and if done by the right artists, it could be a lot of fun on the big screen. But if it's not done just right, it could also be really, really cheesy.

Perhaps the plot line needs to show the Green Lantern learning how to make a few things with his ring early on in the movie, maybe being challenged to do something more complex, and finally mastering it in the end to overcome the villain.

Then there's the question of the tone of the movie. It can be dark, serious, and present a good insight into the character's flaws. When done well, this is the best kind of superhero movie -- like Batman Begins. When done poorly, this becomes a brooding, plotless mess, like 2004's The Incredible Hulk. Or it can be a CGI-fest that provides the barest minimum of exposition to support the super-fights, like Spiderman II (which I thought was unwatchably bad, by the way, so much so I've never even bothered to see Spiderman III), or it can go over the top with the action and not taking itself too seriously, like Iron Man. Green Lantern: The Movie seems like it would be best as a not-too-serious movie rather than a super-serious one, at least to me.

Following the script tone, there is also the question of "Which Green Lantern do we use?" The "original" Green Lantern* was Hal Jordan (illustrated above), whose pre-superhero career was test pilot for Ferris Aviation. There is romantic tension between Jordan and the heiress President of the company, Carol Ferris, who at some point in the comic book series we learn is actually the super-villain Star Sapphire. This is a pretty good setup for what's become a traditional superhero movie, as both superhero and super-villain conceal their super identities from one another while falling in love in their civilian lives. It's been done before (think Batman and Catwoman) but hasn't been done very well yet, at least in my opinion.

But you could also use the somewhat more impetuous Kyle Rayner, the redheaded hotshot who succeeded Jordan as Earth's second Green Lantern, or even more interestingly, John Stewart, the African-American Green Lantern. I don't know much about either Rayner's or Stewart's backstories, though.

As for casting, I couldn't do a better job of it than this fanboy already has.

So it could be a pretty good movie. It would be really easy, though, for it to be super-silly rather than super-good.

* According to the comic book fan lore, there was actually another Green Lantern before Jordan which would make him the second Green Lantern, but I don't know much about him, either. Unquestionably, Hal Jordan is the most famous Green Lantern, followed by John Stewart.

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