Green Lantern (2011)
October 15, 2021 1:54 PM - Subscribe

For centuries, a small but powerful force of warriors called the Green Lantern Corps has sworn to keep intergalactic order. Each Green Lantern wears a ring that grants him superpowers. But when a new enemy called Parallax threatens to destroy the balance of power in the Universe, their fate and the fate of Earth lie in the hands of the first human ever recruited.

There's been a lot said and written about DC Comics' recent efforts in the movie arena, especially in comparison to Marvel's, and it doesn't need rehashing here, but one thing that still remains remarkable is the failure of this movie, both in comparison to previous DC character movies (Superman, Batman, Batman again) and to many of the subsequent ones. Apparently, they'd been planning a GL movie for a while, but the success of Iron Man probably helped things along a bit, and it was intended to start off the yet-unnamed DC Extended Universe. But the film lost money and got catastrophic reviews--26% on Rotten Tomatoes. Maybe most strikingly of all, its star, Ryan Reynolds, isn't a fan, making a point to make fun of it in both of the Deadpool movies. Was it really that bad?

Well, in my personal experience, it wasn't that much of a chore to watch, mostly. Reynolds puts his back into the role, and he has a pretty good supporting cast, including Taika Waititi and Blake Lively (who married Reynolds after the movie), and a decent turn by various other people playing various other Green Lanterns, some of whom are mostly or completely CGI. There's a logical connection between the big cosmic menace and the more modest terrestrial one. Amanda Waller (known to fans of the Suicide Squad comics and movies) makes an appearance, and probably was going to be used as the connection to the larger proto-DCEU. The domino mask absolutely doesn't fool Waititi and Lively's characters, Tom Kalmaku and Carol Ferris, respectively. There are some other funny bits scattered throughout.

But it's not enough to carry the whole movie, which isn't bad so much as aggressively mediocre. I'm still not sure why Hal Jordan wouldn't tell Carol Ferris about his plan at the beginning, or why he flashed back to his dad's death, given that the situation that he was in was so different from his dad's accident. (Superhero comics origins in general tend to rely excessively on the loss or failure of one or both parents, but the Justice League in particular could be called Daddy Issues Support Group.) Oa, the literal center of the universe and home of the ancient and immortal Guardians (who, to the movie's credit, aren't as identical as they tend to be in the comics), is very generic-SF-alien-planet, albeit with a palette tending toward green, of course. Most of the GLs, except for the canonically-important Abin Sur, Sinestro, Kilowog, and Tomar-Re, are very generic alien NPC types. (I did get a glimpse of one GL who had purple decolletage; that sure is a thing, I guess.) Although Amanda Waller is played by Angela Bassett, who is a great actress, the character was notably slimmed down from the comics version. (Viola Davis' Waller, from the Suicide Squad movies, is much closer to the mark.) Parallax is a dust cloud with a skull face, only not as cool as that sounds. And, even though he's got some kinda-creepy aspects, I mostly felt sorry for Hector Hammond; in his later stages, he looks like someone suffering both from hydrocephalus and some really severe thyroid condition.

There's perennial talk of rebooting the character and/or concept in one form or another; the Green Lantern Corps gets mentioned often. Marvel is obviously making serious bank with the space-opera superhero genre, with another Guardians of the Galaxy movie, the Captain Marvel sequel, and something involving the Skrulls all in the works. DC has plenty of source material for a space opera branch of the DCEU; besides the GLC, they've got the Martian Manhunter, Adam Strange, the Legion of Super-Heroes (in the future, usually), the Omega Men, the New Gods, Hawkman and Hawkgirl, and of course that one guy with the glasses and his whole background. It's there if they want to do it and learn from the hard lessons of this movie.
posted by Halloween Jack (23 comments total)
The thing (or one of the things) I never got about this movie was the decision to make Hal a joking doofus of a frat boy. That's so not his character. He was always the straight man who worked for the man as an elite member of the military and of the space cop brigade. Sure, he could buck an order if necessary, but that wouldn't be his first instinct. The character in the film may have been close to Ryan Reynolds but he wasn't even in the ballpark of Hal Jordan.

In related Green Lantern news, Diggle traipsed around the Arrowverse this season, but his story didn't really advance, although in his last line, he seemed to indicate he had turned down/was turning down the ring. (John Diggle was revealed to actually be John Stewart. John Stewart was the third human GL and the one best known from the Justice League cartoon.)

The new HBO GL show has an IMDB listing.
posted by sardonyx at 3:20 PM on October 15, 2021

That human GL count leaves out Alan Scott, but given that he wasn't part of the Corps, I'm fine with that. He's in the new HBO show apparently., Scott and his ring have popped up in Stargirl, and so has his daughter, Jennie-Lynn.
posted by sardonyx at 3:31 PM on October 15, 2021

Watched this the other day out of a sense of completionism. Definitely agree that it was both aggressively mediocre but not a chore to watch, and that Ryan Reynolds's frat boy energy lent the film the wrong tone. (I remember the training scenes with Kilowog as being painful in how hard they were hitting the slapstick humor.)

I don't know anything about the new HBO show, but I hope it grapples with the fact that the Green Lanterns are space cops at a time when it has become more obvious than ever that cops exist to maintain a status quo detrimental to the people they ostensibly protect.
posted by ejs at 6:06 PM on October 15, 2021 [2 favorites]

that one guy with the glasses

Who do you mean?
posted by vrakatar at 7:59 PM on October 15, 2021 [2 favorites]

It was removed from Prime before I finished it. I got as far as the helicopter crash. Oh well.
posted by Beholder at 10:10 AM on October 16, 2021

I think I've seen most of this on various latenite cable surfs. Mostly had a jaring.. wait deadpool becomes green lantern... is that possible or mixing "universes"?? Somewhat annoyed at the poorly executed anti-establishment plot point turning the head lantern guy into the villain. And the idea that your superpower depends on how creative you are really needs a more creative writing staff to pull off well.
posted by sammyo at 11:04 AM on October 16, 2021

It was removed from Prime before I finished it.

I just caught it on Netflix. Not sure if it's on HBO Max or not.

Somewhat annoyed at the poorly executed anti-establishment plot point turning the head lantern guy into the villain.

DC Comics continuity has been revised so often that I don't remember if Sinestro was a former Green Lantern when he was first introduced; looking over a number of sources, it seems so, but I think that his being Hal's mentor/instructor is a relatively new invention. Regardless, the movie doesn't do a very good job of explaining/rationalizing why Sinestro takes up the yellow ring, since the whole point of defeating Parallax is that they didn't need to use it. You just have the mid-credits scene in which he decides to put it on anyway.
posted by Halloween Jack at 11:23 AM on October 16, 2021

OT, but DC movies related: Dwayne Johnson revealed a teaser from his long-in-the-works Black Adam project. [Twitter]
posted by Halloween Jack at 12:00 PM on October 16, 2021

Not sure if it's on HBO Max or not.

It is. We watched it there a while ago out of "is it that bad?" curiosity and had much the same reaction: it's not that bad but it's really not that good either. "Aggressively mediocre", yes, that exactly: it feels sweaty in how hard it's trying.

the decision to make Hal a joking doofus of a frat boy.

I had no background with the character to know whether that was canon or not but yeah, it doesn't work in the movie. I mean sure, asshole-to-hero redemption arc, but making him such a fucking jerk for most of the movie starts to make you question "and I'm supposed to be rooting for this guy why?"
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 5:54 PM on October 16, 2021 [2 favorites]

No, seriously who is THAT ONE GUY WITH THE GLASSES?
posted by vrakatar at 8:16 PM on October 16, 2021 [1 favorite]

No, seriously who is THAT ONE GUY WITH THE GLASSES?

I presume it's Clark Oppenheimer.
posted by StarkRoads at 12:12 AM on October 17, 2021 [1 favorite]

I was guessing Booster Gold, although he's more time-travel than space travel.
posted by sardonyx at 9:51 AM on October 17, 2021

I mean I know why the movie went in the direction it did with Hal. The thinking of the suits is obvious: Marvel makes all kinds of money with funny, joking sarcastic superhero movies. We've got Ryan Reynolds who is funny, joking and sarcastic and is playing a superhero. It's the perfect combination. We're going to be just rolling in money! Green light Green Lantern!

It's absolutely stupid thinking, of course, showing a lack of understanding of the character and his history, and a lack of deeper understanding about what made the Marvel movies work, but I have zero doubts in my mind that's exactly what the process was like.
posted by sardonyx at 9:57 AM on October 17, 2021 [1 favorite]

So I don't know if I'm being trolled here, and just not reading the internet room correctly by not playing along with the joke or not.

No, seriously who is THAT ONE GUY WITH THE GLASSES?

But to me it seemed like there was a discussion of superheroes in the DC Universe with an off-Earth, galactic origin-- directly comparable to Marvel's similarly themed Guardians of the Galaxy. And they mention a bunch of minor superheroes, then say "and the guy with the glasses..."

Who is Superman.

The most well known superhero of all time. His cover identity of Clark Kent famously wears glasses-- it could be argued that the glasses are his whole cover. And who comes from a place off of planet Earth. Superman comes from Krypton. So he is the original off-planet galactic superhero.

That's how I read it anyway. Did I just spoil everyone's elaborate joke, or was the question seriously meant? Apologies either way. That's the internet for you, some days.
posted by seasparrow at 2:28 PM on October 17, 2021 [4 favorites]

I think you're just misunderstanding how dense everybody else was being--or maybe I should say how dense I was being (other people can chime in as to their own mental acuity).

Halloween Jack listed a bunch of DC heroes who certainly aren't A-listers by any stretch of the imagaination. A lot of them are the kinds of heroes people who don't read comic books have never heard about. The throwaway line about the man in the glasses, seemed to imply he was another one of those guyes. That set imaginations (or at least mine) diving down the DC rabbit hole to come up with another obscure hero who meets the space-faring bill while wearing glasses. Supes honestly never even crossed my mind until you mentioned him. I could say it's because while he's in space, he's sporting the red cape and boots and not the black hornrims, but it's more likely because I was being too literaly and just didn't pick up on the joke. Which, again, just could be the Internet for you some days.
posted by sardonyx at 2:53 PM on October 17, 2021 [2 favorites]

That set imaginations (or at least mine) diving down the DC rabbit hole to come up with another obscure hero who meets the space-faring bill while wearing glasses. Supes honestly never even crossed my mind

Yeah, that's why I asked, innocently and without irony. I was like "hmmm, Dr. Sivanna? He does not go to space much if at all. Did Mr. Mind have glasses? Are we talking about Dr. Midnite? He doesn't go to space much. Did Space Cabbie wear glasses, don't think so...WHO? WHOOOOOO IS IT????"

I need to think about comics less.
posted by vrakatar at 4:49 PM on October 17, 2021 [2 favorites]

gets ... It should be "That gets imaginations..."

Sigh. I hate it when typos get quoted. It really makes them stand out.
posted by sardonyx at 4:56 PM on October 17, 2021 [1 favorite]

Or "sets". I can't remember what I originally intended. But I wanted something that made sense grammatically.
posted by sardonyx at 4:59 PM on October 17, 2021 [1 favorite]

I think the meaning comes through. Thanks for articulating my rabbit-holing of that one guy with the glasses.
posted by vrakatar at 5:01 PM on October 17, 2021 [2 favorites]

what hath I wrought
posted by Halloween Jack at 5:35 PM on October 17, 2021 [4 favorites]

An interesting glimpst into how people read Internet comments and how peoples' minds work. So, well done!
posted by sardonyx at 6:30 PM on October 17, 2021 [2 favorites]

In all seriousness, I thought that I'd already responded earlier, but maybe I was composing it on my phone and got interrupted? Anyway. There's a bunch of SF/space opera centered around the Kryptonians, which I think all (or almost all) dates from the Silver Age onward, and most of which is in the form of flashbacks (for logical reasons) except for stuff having to do with the Bottle City of Kandor. What they do with that probably depends a lot on what they do with Kal-El in the DCEU going forward; one of the more interesting ideas might be for them to establish that, in the DCEU, he has superpowers only in the Solar System... and he decides to go beyond it, anyway. (The Berlantiverse has its own thing going on, and has at least dabbled in extraterrestrial adventures, I think--I haven't gone beyond the beginning of S2 of Supergirl.)
posted by Halloween Jack at 6:38 PM on October 17, 2021 [1 favorite]

And yeah, I was expecting a lot worse of a movie than it was, considering the aggregate review score and how much Ryan Reynolds distances himself from it - I was expecting a complete trainwreck, incoherent and tedious to watch. But it was fine, really. It wasn't great cinema and maybe it was out of character, but it was an easy way to kill a couple of hours with some popcorn.
posted by Kyol at 6:42 AM on October 18, 2021 [1 favorite]

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