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.

Review: Green Lantern

Green Lantern is one of my top five favorite super-heroes, so I have been somewhat dreading the new live action film. I’ll go ahead and set your fears to rest by saying that this is a really good film and a fun one, too. However, I’m not entirely sure it is a really good Green Lantern film. My uncertainly lies with Ryan Reynolds. Other than looking somewhat like the character as drawn by the great Joe Staton, Reynolds just doesn’t seem very much like the Hal Jordan I’ve read about all these years. Don’t get me wrong, I think Reynolds is a fine actor. I’ve liked him since the sitcom Two Guys, A Girl and a Pizza Place and I thought he was the strongest of the cast, including later addition Nathan Fillion (no offense meant to Mr. Fillion as he has certainly proven it was lack of good material at the time that prevented him from shining). But Reynolds never seems to take anything seriously in this film, as he is usually wont to do, and I just think that is wrong for the way that Hal Jordan has been portrayed in the comics. Jordan always seemed to me to be very focused, incredibly determined and, yes, somewhat of a hotshot. I understand adding more humor to him in order to broaden the appeal of the story, however it doesn’t fit. While Reynolds comedic physicality and timing are scarily superb, I think those skills were sometimes overused and distracting in what could have been a really fantastic film.

The other issue I have with the film is the use of Hector Hammond. Ultimately, Hammond turns out to be a MacGuffin of sorts as the true threat of the film is Parallax. In fact, I never really believed Hammond to be much of a threat and he really only seemed to serve as a way for Parallax to notice Hal Jordan. He essentially spends the entire movie being resentful of those he feels superior to, which tends to be everybody, and then after being tricked by Jordan he gets unceremoniously consumed by the entity he was unknowingly serving. A pretty ignominiously short shelf life for a character that is much more menacing and far more creepier in the comics. He seemed to be heading towards…something, but then his story just fizzled out and went away. For having evolved to the point where he could read minds, Hammond was duped rather flimsily. It might have worked better if they lead up to Hammond being the big bad in the next installment, but it is not to be.

Besides those two issues I did really enjoy the movie. Parallax was particularly well done as he was suitably scary, which is befitting the avatar of fear. Parallax was actually made less convoluted than he is in the comics and they even managed to explain the origin of the Green Lantern Corps in a non-confusing opening narration. Of course, for long time fans, seeing many familiar ring-slingers in action was possibly the coolest parts of the film. Sinestro, Kilowog and Tomar-Re, a personal favorite, all got speaking roles. To say that Mark Strong nailed Sinestro’s arrogance and guile would be a gross understatement. If there is any justice the films will be heading towards depicting the “Sinestro Corps War” stroyline in the second or third movie. Hannu, Boodika, Stel, Salakk and Medphyll are noticeable and there are a few others I’m certain I’ve seen before as well. Blake Lively does a great job as Carol Ferris and I think she would be spectacular as Star Sapphire, should the film producers take that route in subsequent movies. Lively and Reynolds did have good chemistry and that should work well in the future. Taika Waititi as Tom Kalmaku is also highly underused, but hopefully he will get more screen time next go round.

All in all, I would recommend this film, especially as one the whole family can watch. As a film focused on Green Lantern, I would have liked to have seen a few things done differently and Hal Jordan portrayed more like the comics, but it is still acceptable and I think an audience unfamiliar with the comics will be suitably entertained and drawn to check out the comic books. Of course there is a great hook for a sequel that plays out part way through the credits so be sure to stay for that. It isn’t the best super-hero movie this year, but it is a rollicking good summer film.