Now that the DC Extended Universe has been somewhat successfully rebooted, Warner Bros. and DC have mustered enough confidence to resurrect Green Lantern on the big screen. Casual moviegoers might wince, since the disastrous Green Lantern from 2011 is still, somehow, not far enough in the rearview. But based on the little details regarding the project, the new film which is tentatively titled Green Lantern Corps is already looking like it’s on track to getting the Emerald Knight right.
All it took was four words to convince me: “Lethal Weapon in space”. As simple and hackneyed as it sounds, that logical thinking is precisely what a Green Lantern movie needs to be. Space cops having adventures across the galaxy wearing green rings? It’s unbelievable that this was so hard to get right the first time.
A little under six years have passed since Green Lantern was released as a limp start to 2011’s summer movie season. What was meant to kick off a new franchise wound up an embarrassment even Reynolds couldn’t shake off until Deadpool. (The actor admitted in an interview with Variety that he was “unhirable” after Green Lantern.) But the film, directed by Martin Campbell, actually got a lot of the Green Lantern character right; the move was just bloated, boring, and resembled a video game more than a realized science-fiction reality.
And that’s probably the worst thing about Green Lantern: The potential was all there, with a bonafide star like Ryan Reynolds there to carry it. There’s nothing ill-conceived about the concept; the Green Lantern is just one of many individuals plucked from every planet, who draw their power from their own will. They’re cops, with a conveniently limited power supply for dramatic effect. And Reynolds, though playing a cheap version of Tony Stark without any of the interesting pathos, clearly demonstrated he could lead as a superhero. He just needed the right one, and a square like Hal Jordan just wasn’t for him.
A mix of science fiction and noir crime, any Green Lantern movie is ripe for something unique that has yet to be delivered in even today’s biggest superhero tentpoles. The legendary Dennis O’Neil proved how versatile the character could be when he was paired with the Green Arrow in the ‘70s, and while that’s not what the new film will be based upon, they’re a solid reference for making the legitimately bland Hal Jordan interesting when paired with a more grounded, serious character — whether it’s the socialist Oliver Queen or Hal’s replacement, John Stewart (one of DC’s first black superheroes).
Also, yes, I just want to see this scene from Justice League: War happen again.
It is somewhat backward that, among other actors, Reynolds is once again on the shortlist to play Hal Jordan, but you can’t fault the studio for being charmed by Reynolds who has redeemed himself through Deadpool. (I, for one, always knew he had the chops back when he was underachieving Berg in Two Guys, a Girl, and a Pizza Place.) Green Lantern isn’t broken; there’s so much to be done with the character. The only question is, does anyone have the will to make it so?