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Expectations are already high for next year’s Green Lantern movie, with fans excited to see how Ryan Reynolds does in the role of test pilot-turned-space cop Hal Jordan, and whether the movie will be able to kickstart a DC Comics movieverse in the same way that Marvel’s Iron Man is leading to The Avengers. But am I the only person who worries that Green Lantern has somehow skipped to its own sequel?
If there’s one thing that superhero movie sequels are known for, it’s trying too hard to up the ante on their first installments, which usually translates into packing in too many characters – normally villains – for their running time. It’s a time-honored tradition, from Batman Returns‘ Catwoman and Penguin through to Iron Man 2‘s Justin Hammer/Whiplash/Black Widow/War Machine/The Kitchen Sink combo, but that doesn’t mean that it’s a good one (See: Everyone complaining about Iron Man 2). Thing is, we normally expect that for the sequel and, to an extent, forgive the cram because of that: We’ll always have X-Men, we think to ourselves as X2 makes our head spin.
Thing is: Have you seen the list of villains expected to appear in Green Lantern? We don’t just get Sinestro, we should also expect Hector Hammond and Parallax. Now, while I’m sure that writers like Marc Guggenheim and Michael Green will be taking their lead from DC CCO (and movie producer) Geoff Johns’ comic book reinterpretation of the character’s origins – Better known, perhaps, as “Everything is not only connected, but scarily so” – to the extent that, on paper, having three villains works perfectly well, I can’t help but wonder: Wouldn’t one of those villains have been enough this time around?
See, the first movie for any superhero isn’t really about the villain. That’s what the sequels are for. No, the first movie is about setting the stage and introducing everyone to the superhero, making sure that everyone knows who he is and what he’s all about. Yes, there needs to be some kind of bad guy for him to fight against – It’s a superhero movie, after all – but it doesn’t need to be anyone show-stopping: This is why Obediah Stane worked so well in Iron Man – He helped Tony’s story, but otherwise pretty much stayed in the background until the audience needed to see someone in a bigger suit of armor (I’d argue that Batman Begins worked the same way; the Scarecrow really isn’t that much of a threat, but he did enough to let us see Batman in action – same with the movie version of Ra’s Al Ghul). You save the big, evil, guns for the sequels, when audiences need something more than just the superhero – I’d argue this was (one of) the fault(s) of Superman Returns, which didn’t offer audiences enough besides Superman to feel impressed by; we’d already seen Lex Luthor, and his new plot was… well, kind of dull, really.
By bringing in Parallax and Hector Hammond on top of Sinestro – the villain who, I’d say, deserves the prime nemesis spot in the first movie the most, if only because he has the most easily understood hook (He used to belong to the same space police force as Hal, but he’s gone rogue) – I worry that, in the attempt to dazzle audiences, there’s going to be too much going on for the movie to do what it needs to, as the first movie in the series… Namely, introduce audiences to the title character. Unless they’re merely hints of sequels to come (Although, Hector Hammond? Really?), I’ve already got a bad feeling about whether or not Green Lantern will be enough of a hit with non-comics audiences to make it to the second movie it so clearly wants to be.