Wednesday 21 March 2012

Panda and I watched: Green Lantern

Panda and I love us some comic books. There are some brands (or titles) that appeal for different reasons than others. We like Watchmen, but we also like Green Lantern, Justice League, Hawkworld and both hold a particular fondness for Adam Strange. Normally when a franchise we like comes out we get in line psychologically. We don't actually line up. We're too lazy for that kind of behaviour. It is probably better to say that we put it on the to-do list. It becomes imbedded in our psyche, which we share, as a thing that will be done, and until it gets done we check and re-check release dates, figure out who we want to see it with, and speculate over the goings on that will be witnessed of which we are already emotionally involved. That is our modus operandi and that is exactly how we rolled on the whole John Carter situation. This is also how we rolled when Green Lantern was approaching, but due to poor responses that often included the word 'shit' we started avoiding it. We were worried. We didn't want to be disappointed, but I have been feeling unwell lately and that means that Panda gets what he wants, so we watched it.

It is not a good movie, but more than this it is not a good Green Lantern Story. I feel like they missed the point of making a movie and the point of telling a Green Lantern story, then to top it off they cheated us. When I say us I am not just talking about Green Lantern fans, but the story consuming public as a whole.

I'm going to digress and regress for a little bit. When I was nine I went to the US of A for five weeks with my friend Gabriel, who himself has made some interesting points on stories and story telling in his time. While there I bought some comic books and the pen and paper role-playing game DC Heroes. These materials introduced me to the Green Lantern Corps which took my fancy straight away. On a a not unrelated note: It was on this trip that I became curious about and eventually obsessed with how a game with actual rules could possibly cover the seemingly infinite uses for the GL power ring, which in turn rekindled a fascination with how games work.

Once I got back to Australia I started picking GL comics up whenever my local newsagent stocked them. I didn't really have access to the funds to procure back issues or trade paper backs at the time so I just read what came my way. I was reading pretty avidly for a couple of years when the "Emerald Twilight" storyline came along, which is a story of how a grief stricken Hal Jordan becomes the mind-controlling reality-bending Parallax.

Where is that story?

We won't get that story, because that was the end (for a while) of Hal Jordan being the Lantern. It wasn't an origin story. I know that they retconned it so that he had actually been hanging around "Since the beginning", but Parallax (who eats fear?) doesn't really belong in Hal Jordan's origin story. He comes later on when you are invested in the character. When the impact of him creating a construct of his recently deceased girlfriend because he isn't coping with the loss really hits you hard.

After I finished high school I would duck in and out of Green Lantern and from time to time I would pick up the odd omnibus or trade paper back, amongst them were "Emerald Dawn" parts one and two, "Secret Origin" and "Sinestro Corps War", which all catalogue Sinestro's fall from being one of the Green Lantern Corps' greatest heroes to becoming one of their most persistent enemies. This is a big story that explores the concepts of the ends justifying the means and the often horrific preemptive nature of order and control of a populace.

Where is this story?

We won't get this story because the creative forces behind the movie felt that it was important that Sinestro first dons his yellow ring in a mid credits sequence giving the event little to no impact. The creation of the ring itself feels a lot like it was added as an after thought. I am aware that Sinestro was a villain from early on in the piece as far as the comics are concerned and most of this story was told later, but I feel like they tossed away a great opportunity so that they could bust a grizzly for themselves (it's a term for masturbate).

Neither Panda nor I are total sticklers for continuity and neither are we hell bent on remaining true to all the details of the original source material, which rarely stays true to itself these days, but these divergences are just cheats that turn Green Lantern into another piss-weak origin film that doesn't really have an engaging story. My experience with the Green Lantern comics is that at their very core they are about will, fear, grief and varying concepts of what is right. Powerful stuff if you can show it. The recent film talks about some of these things a lot, but doesn't really give anyone an opportunity to convince the audience.

A lot of people have complained to me about Reynolds' casting, but as far as I can tell it is the writers of the film that have failed to convey the true heft of Green Lantern, and at the same time prevented themselves from being able to really give two of the most important stories in the franchise the weight they deserve. Likewise there is no real opportunity for Reynolds to really sink his teeth into the role of  Hal Jordan. This says nothing of the daylight robbery of Mark Strong's role. Imagine his surprise when, after being cast as one of the most interesting villains in the DC multiverse, they gave him a handful of dunce scenes and dialogue to match. It doesn't really matter if you are a Lantern fan or not, you have been cheated.

I would love to see a sequel, but I hope they really drill down to the core of the franchise and find the themes and the stories that don't get explored anywhere else, otherwise it is just another superhero movie based on a comic book, and there are a lot of those.

Panda agrees.

No comments :