How A Green Lantern Sequel Could Be Better Than The First

I’ve gone on record as saying that I loved the Green Lantern movie released this June. The film was poorly received by critics, and the box office was much lower than what Warner Bros. had projected and hoped for. Despite this, reports have surfaced that WB is planning to move forward with a sequel. With the Harry Potter franchise coming to an end, WB is searching for their next flagship.

I was fortunate to attend a Green Lantern screening two days before its release. The theater was packed, and it was obvious that most people in attendance were excited to see the movie. There were moments of laughter, applause, and even some “oohs and ahhs”. As a longtime fan of Green Lantern’s comic series, various cartoon appearances, and merchandise, it was a fantastic environment in which to see the long-awaited feature film debut of the character. It was a theater full of people who wanted to see a Green Lantern movie, not just movie-goers hoping to see a good movie (if that makes sense). The movie concluded to a round of applause, and I drove home proud of DC and WB, sure they would have a widely-accepted, critically-acclaimed hit on their hands. I was wrong. One thing I can say is that it seems the majority of comic and Green Lantern fans enjoyed the movie and held it in a much higher regard than non-GL fans. They made the movie the fans wanted to see, and as much as I’d like to see GL gain the mainstream acceptance that the Iron Man, Spider-Man and Batman characters have, I am thankful for that.
All that said, here are a few reasons a Green Lantern sequel would be a better movie than the first:

More Sinestro. Mark Strong was spectacular as Sinestro, perfectly bringing to life a character that WB wanted to almost completely redesign. In pre-production, Strong lobbied to keep the character true to his comic roots, as opposed to the sweeping changes that were proposed (see: pony tails and tribal gear). In Green Lantern, Sinestro is a member of the Green Lantern Corps, and is an ally of Hal Jordan. In a sequel, Sinestro would be a full-on yellow-clad baddie, and rightfully take his place as Hal Jordan’s arch enemy. Viewers who stuck around through the first chunk of Green Lantern‘s closing credits got a taste of this. A 90 minute showdown between Green Lantern and Sinestro with little screen time dedicated to background story will be an action-packed delight.

Less Carol Ferris.Blake Lively had a hard time keeping up with screenmates Peter Saarsgard and Ryan Reynolds. Due to their differences in age and acting chops, it was difficult to believe that the trio had grown up together and was playing on the same field. In the comics, Hal Jordan’s new role in the Green Lantern Corps expectedly takes him away from earth for the majority of his time, and his relationship with Carol disintegrates. Screenwriters of a sequel would be wise to stay close to canon in this regard, as it would be a natural diversion from the Ferris character.

A high-powered cameo. Unexpected hero or villain cameos create buzz. WB is said to be hot on the idea of a Justice League movie. The Justice League is the DC Comics version of Marvel’s Avengers. The Avengers movie is set to be released in 2012, and many of the members have already been introduced in their own films. DC would be wise to follow this formula, and now that the Green Lantern character has been established, he’s bound to have a brief run-in with Batman or Superman. It would have seemed forced in the first movie, but not in a sequel.

No training sequence. A sequel would see Hal as a fully up-to-speed Green Lantern Corps member, which means no more training. I will admit, the lightning-fast training sequence in Green Lantern was painfully succinct, especially when compared to Bruce Wayne’s training in Batman Begins. The good news is that would all be behind us, and Hal would have full ring functionality and be able to dazzle viewers with his creative contructs and amazing abilities. After all, he does turn out to be the greatest Green Lantern of all time, and it would be a treat to see that.

Why The World Needs Aquaman

Fans of the erstwhile ABC show LOST certainly shared this irritation. So do sports fans. The irritation I speak of is that of a non-fan dispensing “expertise” and criticism toward a subject about which they have little or no knowledge.

“The Milwaukee Brewers suck, dude.”

“Oh yeah? Name 3 players.”

LOST is the worst show; just find a way off the island, how hard can it be?”

“Not even remotely what the show is about. Ever seen an episode?”

Recently I was listening to the ESPN Fantasy Focus Baseball podcast (which I do daily). The show is expertly hosted by Nate Ravitz, Matthew Berry (ESPN’s “Talented Mr. Roto”), and their producer is lovingly referred to as Pod Vader. I obviously enjoy the show, since I listen daily, and they are the pinnacle of talent with regard to fantasy baseball expertise and advice. Berry’s column on ESPN always entertains, as he finds a way to mix pop culture references in with fantasy baseball and bring it all together. His recent Ten Lists of 10 column is a great read as always, and toward the end he lists the top 10 superheroes “in order of awesomeness”. I take no issue with the list. Berry is a self-admitted non-comic book guy, and for a fan whose knowledge comes primarily from movies and TV, this is a solid list. On the podcast, the guys were discussing Berry’s list, and Aquaman’s name came up. Predictably, they spent a few minutes crushing him and then moved on. It was then that I decided Aquaman deserves better. He deserves respect. If you aren’t a comic book fan, you shouldn’t bash Aquaman. Stick with me here.

The hierarchy of comic book superheroes is always a crowd-pleasing conversation. Even my wife, who has a fleeting interest and the most basic comic character knowledge base (although growing impressively, I can proudly say), will jump into a conversation ranking the best and worst among costumed heroes. Who’s the best? Batman! Wolverine! Superman! Spider-Man! While the same handful of do-gooders always seem to get the top votes, Aquaman is only brought up for a laugh. Well not today. I got you, Aquaman.

It is likely that 9 out of every 10 Aquaman haters know nothing about him. They know just what you can take from his name: he is aqua-based, so the rush to judgment is that “he has to be in water to be effective”. Not so.
Let’s dispel some myths:

1. Aquaman is only a hero when he’s in water.
The truth: He has superhuman durability and strength anywhere. Aquaman has adapted to live in the crushing depths of the ocean, so his body density is such that he can withstand close range machine gun fire. He has played vital roles in heroic missions on land and even in space. He has a healing factor (see: Wolverine). Due to a special suit Batman made for him, he suffers no ill-effects when he is on land.

2. OK, but what good do his powers do him on land?
He can see in total darkness and has advanced hearing similar to sonar (see: Superman).

3. But he can’t fly!
Capable of reaching speeds of 10,000 feet per second, he’s a strong swimmer. There’s more water than land on earth, so if you need to get somewhere fast, Aqua’s your guy.

4. No crimes are committed underwater.
That’s because he has psionic domination of all marine life. He telepathically tells them what to do. If one – JUST one – of the land based superheroes had the equivalent of that power on land, there would be no crime here either.

Ok, so maybe compiling a list of abilities and accomplishments is a silly way to defend Aquaman’s merit. Here’s the real reason we need Aquaman to be one of our top superheroes: diversity.

Ever notice that not very many brand new superheroes have been born recently? All the big ones were born in the 1960s or earlier. That’s because there are only so many people and places that need defending! Earth needed a protector of its seas, after all, they do take up 2/3 of its surface, and Aquaman was glad to oblige. At their core, superheroes are for kids to idolize and look up to. What the comic publishers have realized recently is that diversifying the heroes draws in a more diverse fan base and increases readership. John Stewart is an African-American Green Lantern. Jaime Reyes is a Latino teen and is DC’s current Blue Beetle. Kate Kane, the current Batgirl, (now called Batwoman) is a lesbian of Jewish descent. Kids naturally gravitate to a hero they can relate to. Peter Parker was the nerd, Bruce Wayne lost his parents, Clark Kent the outsider. Wolverine battles his past, Tony Stark (Iron Man) battles addictions, The Hulk battles himself. These vulnerabilities are what ultimately endear us to the character. We need our heroes to be flawed and imperfect, because we are. Aquaman is far from perfect, and that’s why we need him even more.