Monday, September 6, 2010

Comic Book Adaptations and Pre-Release Sequel Planning...Say, Would You Like Some 3D With That

I see where comicbookmovie.com is telling us that Green Lantern 2 and 3 are already in planning stages.

For those who don't read comics and haven't kept up on the movie news, quick summary: Green Lantern is about mysterious alien artifacts called "power rings," of various colors, each colored powered by a corresponding emotion or drive. The Green Lantern Corps is an interplanetary (possibly intergalactic, I forget) police force wielding green power rings, powered by willpower. That sentence contains entirely too many repetitions of the word "power." These power rings, by the way, are not one-superpower jobbies. They confer a whole slew of abilities, the best known of which are flight and the creation of weapons or other objects, known as constructs, made of green light. They are vulnerable to the color yellow, which corresponds to fear in the same way that green does to willpower. There is also a group called the Sinestro Corps, who can be thought of as Yellow Lanterns, if you like; whose powers are fueled by the fear they cause and who tend to be at war with the Green Lanterns.

The Green Lantern origin story (which is technically not the first appearance of a power-ring-wielding superhero known as Green Lantern in comics, more on that in a moment) is the story of an asshole test pilot called Hal Jordan who gets a green power ring from a dying alien and is forced to adopt said alien's job of Green Lanternship. Seems pretty standard comic book hero fare, right? By the way, there's a few potential spoilers ahead.

Honestly, ten years ago I would never have said that a Green Lantern movie was a good thing. The story of Hal Jordan as Green Lantern was actually a revival of an older, Golden Age superhero called Green Lantern, this one a more conventional crimefighter, Alan Scott. Alan Scott's problem as a character was that nobody really cared about him - unlike his contemporaries Superman and Batman, he was colorless (dohoho) and his series got canceled in the late 40s. Hal actually developed the same problem over time, but for a different reason: far from being colorless, he had exactly one color, and that was the color of ass. Somehow, he managed to make being a fearless, womanizing daredevil of a maverick space policeman utterly boring, and realizing this, the powers that be introduced two other Green Lanterns over the years: Guy Gardner, an even worse ass than Hal, and John Stewart, who started out as a token black guy and eventually became a pretty boring character who at least was not an ass. Eventually, realizing that Hal was not a good thing for the Green Lantern storyline, the powers that be had him go crazy and get killed off in the storyline known as the Parallax Saga. He was then replaced by Kyle Rayner, who is not an ass but is a bit annoying most of the time. And then he was resurrected. Because it's a cape comic. What else was going to happen.

Ironically, the best thing to happen to Green Lantern in years - possibly since the creation of the character - is happening right about now: the Sinestro Corps War/Blackest Night/Brightest Day saga, which is finally exploiting the potential of there being a lot of other colors of light besides green and yellow. And also the dead are trying to consume the universe and destroy emotion or something. The reason why it's ironic is that it's not half bad as a story - and yet understanding of it is contingent upon all the previous history of the storyline, most of which sucks. And it's into this that Warner Brothers decide to throw their origin story.

Ryan Reynolds (X-Men Origins: Wolv - oh, come on, you know who he is) will play Hal Jordan. I could complain about this, saying that he's too young-looking and too fresh-faced to play a jerk like Hal - but honestly I care so little about Hal that I don't really give a damn whether he's played properly or not, and anything Ryan Reynolds can do with the guy is probably going to be more likable than anything that's been written in continuity for the last fifty years. Mark Strong (that guy who was trying to assassinate the king in Robin Hood) will play Sinestro, Hal's mentor-later-scheduled-to-turn-evil as a Green Lantern. Peter Sarsgaard (Garden State, Jarhead) strikes me as a rather surprising choice for mad scientist villain Hector Hammond, but there you go. Blake Lively (yes, the one from Gossip Girl) is also bunged in there as love-interest-later-scheduled-to-turn-evil Carol Ferris. Also the alien who gives Hal the power ring is the same guy who played Jango Fett in Star Wars. The director is Martin Campbell, who may not be instantly recognizable but is responsible for the best two Bond movies since the departure of Sean Connery (and if you have to ask which two they are, I refuse to tell you).

The movie's supposed to be a pretty straight-up origin story for Hal, although reportedly they're going to drag Parallax into it somehow or other. I bring this up because of the article I linked above (far enough above that if you're still reading, I salute you) and the fact that sequels are already being planned. Two sequels.

I could just be nostalgic for a non-existent past over here, but I seem to recall that generally it's a good idea to make sure people want to watch your movie before you start calling a franchise which does not yet exist your "very own Star Wars". More to the point, they're thinking of expanding it "beyond a trilogy" (again, I'm quoting verbatim here). All I have to say is good God are these people thinking far ahead. Or rather, they aren't thinking far ahead, because when the comic-book movie craze collapses (and this is happening already, with the viewing public becoming noticeably more and more disappointed with the fact that every hero does not have the potential of Batman and every villain does not have the potential of the Joker and that every superhero film is not The Dark Knight) and the current 3D craze follows it (this one may take longer, until Cameron has finished his Spaceahantas sequels) they are going to have a great deal of useless planning on their hands and nobody who wants to watch it.

And the worst part is, the way Hollywood cheats on its taxes, they'll still have plenty of money left over to move on to the next marketing craze and we all just have to pray that it isn't something even worse than every superhero now has a movie including the ones who are boring as hell. And pray, while you're at it, that it isn't anime and that god-awful Akira adaptation starring Leo DiCaprio never gets to see anything close to the light of day.

--Blackthorne, Esq.

6 comments:

  1. I just loved the use of italics in this post. I was genuinely disappointed that there wasn't more in the Scott Pilgrim review, but this more than made up for it.

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  2. blackthorneesquireOctober 2, 2010 at 11:44 PM

    I agree that 3D has the potential to work very well with GL, but I have a sinking feeling that it's going to be more slapped-together crap as with Clash of the Titans and The Last Airbender's 3D jobs. "Ooh, look. Now Ryan Reynolds is flying somewhat towards you. If you squint. Do you feel the urge to pay us money yet?"

    And yeah, Guy can be pretty fun when well written, but afaik he won't be in the first movie so we'll have to see if he turns up later.

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  3. I think it will be good. The 3D doesn't bother me because if any superhero was made for 3D, its Green Lantern with his constructs and space adventures. The director is more than capable. Guy Gardner might be more of an ass than Hal Jordan, but he's also infinitely more entertaining than most of the corps. But whats really giving me good vibes is the fact they're showcasing most of the more alien looking Lantern Corps members.

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  4. I just loved the use of italics in this post. I was genuinely disappointed that there wasn't more in the Scott Pilgrim review, but this more than made up for it.

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  5. blackthorneesquireOctober 2, 2010 at 11:44 PM

    comicbookmovie.com is often full of shit but I do buy this, not least because there's plenty of confirmation for it (as googling "green lantern sequel" will show you).

    I can't see GL becoming a blockbuster, not on the TDK level and probably not even on the first Iron Man level. Green Lantern just doesn't have the name recognition that some other heroes do - notice that both Hulk movies made back their budget + $100 mil despite both being different flavors of canned shit, and Superman Returns nearly made back twice budget despite being even worse. Being a good movie will save a superhero flick's receipts even if the public lacks common knowledge of it (see also first Iron Man), and make it a ludicrous amount of money if the public does know about it (see also Dark Knight), but I seriously doubt that Ryan Reynolds can carry the entire movie, especially when he seems so...well, miscast, honestly. I'd believe him as Kyle Rayner but as Hal...

    Well, I promised not to get into that, but I have next to no interest in Green Lantern's origin story and only a middling amount of interest in Brightest Day, and I actually read comics. Who knows, maybe when the trailers come out I and everyone else will be raving and it'll make a billion dollars. But I'd say it's more likely to profit at around the same level as the dreadful Fantastic Four movies, and be only marginally better.

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  6. comicbookmovie.com is pathetic... just saying. nothing they write should be used as a legit source.
    that being said, i really wouldn't doubt that the Green Lantern is going to have sequels. it's going to be a box office blockbuster no matter what the critics say about it.
    hollywood sequel rule of thumb: if the original made money, crappy, hastily made sequels will make even more money.
    and 3D obsession needs to stop. once it gets to the point that movies will be filmed with 3D shaky cam, i'm going to go insane and quit this blog. because that's going to make hollywood stop... me quitting... yeah...

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