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The Dark Lantern? I Don’t Think So

There’s a lot to unpack in the comments of Warner Bros’ movie president Jeff Robinov about the second Green Lantern movie, including what looks like an acknowledgment that the first one wasn’t all that it could be – and a worrying sign that the current plan learns all the wrong lessons from the success of The Dark Knight.

It’s interesting, for example, to see Robinov admit that the “decent opening” proved that there was an audience becausem in doing so, isn’t he implying that the audience didn’t stick with Green Lantern beyond the opening for a reason (ie, it wasn’t very good)? The mention of a sequel having to “find a way to balance the time the movie spends in space versus on Earth” suggests that he’s all too aware of the choppy, uneven plotting in the movie, as well. Admittedly, we’re never going to hear Robinov coming out and saying “Yeah, it wasn’t really great, we screwed up, sorry,” so let’s savor this hint and move on.

It’s distressing to hear Robinov talking about a second Green Lantern – one that may possibly dump the existing outline by the writers responsible for the first movie, as well as director Martin Campbell – for a movie that “a little edgier and darker with more emphasis on action,” not only because it means that he still apparently has the same take on superhero movies as he did three years ago, in light of The Dark Knight‘s success, but because it suggests that he really has no idea what Green Lantern is all about.

“Edgier and darker” works for Batman because it works for Batman, if that makes sense – Audiences respond to that, because it fits with the character, one born of tragedy and living in a world mostly devoid of fantastical elements. “Edgier” and “darker” make sense for Batman in a way that they just don’t for Green Lantern, a character that is entirely rooted in child logic – He’s a space cop with a magic wishing ring for a weapon – and based around a much more uplifting message (Overcoming fear) than Batman, one that would seem to be at odds with the idea of an edgier, darker story.

What Green Lantern needs in order to succeed isn’t the idealized version of “realism” that accompanies things like The Dark Knight, but a more focused, more realized version of surrealism that brings more depth and believability to things like the various aliens on Oa, the idea of will-powered rings, and cosmic personifications of emotion. Green Lantern didn’t fail with audiences because it wasn’t dark enough, or lacked edge, but because it ultimately wasn’t coherent enough to be sufficiently entertaining. Instead of forcing the concept to be another Dark Knight – stripping it of the originality and interest it already has – what will make Green Lantern 2 a success will be to let its freak flag fly, and explore what makes it unique.

And, anyway. Who could ever think that a movie with “Lantern” in its title should be made darker? That doesn’t even make any sense.

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Comments

  • Mythos

    In darkest day, in blackest night,
    No evil shall escape his sight.
    Let those who worship evil’s might
    Beware his gritty realism:
    GREEN LANTERN’S LIGHT!

  • Geertt2

    Robinov couldn’t be further off. Instead of darker, how about “more fun” and “more exciting”. I have two grade school age children and both they and their friends loved everything they saw about the GL movie — the crazy aliens, the cool weapons, the “magic ring”… but they couldn’t see the movie. And I guarantee, all of these kids would have, and they would have brought along adults who probably wouldn’t go otherwise. 
    PG-13 is not the right fit for GL’s universe. I (and most parents I know) won’t take their little ones to a PG-13 movie. But movie can be great that appeals to both kids and teens and adults. Think Pixar. I sincerely believe that the franchise would be able to survive the removal of scenes like a freaky Hector Hammond burning his father alive. And make more money. And sell more toys. Most 13 -18 year old boys aren’t buying the action figures. The video game maybe, but not 90% of the merchandise. That’s what you want, isn’t it WB?

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Sage-Ashford/1290900135 Sage Ashford

    Uhm.  Nah, that’s okay.  It’d have to be the best movie EVER for me to care about a PG “Green Lantern” movie.  No thanks.   I don’t want Green Lantern rated R, but I do want PG-13.    PG is usually drivel. 

  • Zoz-Soz

    Screw that. Most of them Harry
    Potter movies, original Star Wars trilogy, and Pixar crap are stupid. Gimme dat Transformers trilogy with its robots callin the bad guys say “bitch”
    and humpin hawt girl legs any day.

  • B Smithee

    exactly right GMac! 

  • Hugueknot

    I’m hoping his coments were just poorly worded, along the lines of DC’s “brooding” Superman, which, at first (and second and third) glance didn’t seem to jibe at all with Grant Morrison’s (much more appealing) explanation of the new direction.  More action for GL seems like a good thing, and getting a script with some flow also seems like a good idea. 

  • Lady’sMan217

    The personification of ‘Will’ was foolish in this film. Will is so much more than guns and large animated fists. The wrong mindset made this film a failure…sophisticated films can still be fun.PG 13 is fine but you’ve got to treat the subject matter with dignity. Dark is fine as well…but presenting a good story is always key. Too many pointless characters takes away from the true essence of what this film could have been. And the story lacked credibility.

  • http://twitter.com/MrRandyWatson1 Randy Watson

    You guys must not read the same comics that I do because GL has been pretty dark and violent for half a decade now.

    I’m not seeing how less camp and more adult themes could hurt the GL sequel.

  • Jmcreer

    “And, anyway. Who could ever think that a movie with “Lantern” in its title should be made darker? That doesn’t even make any sense.”

    In order FOR the Lantern to shine brightly, Hal HAS to combat the DARK elements of the universe like Nekron, the Sinestro Corps, the Manhunters, and the detached and authoritarian Guardians who have their own agenda (he was even doing it long before Geoff Johns arrived).  That doesn’t even cover the dark elements that exist within Hal himself, and humanity (a dark side he encountered via Hard-traveling Heroes).  The darkness and responsibility extends to whomever wears the ring – Kyle Rayner’s girlfriend was killed and stuffed in a fridge, and his 3rd died as well.  John Stewart was responsible for not one, but TWO planets exploding!  The ring is a GIFT but also a BURDEN.  It’s a shit magnet for the wearer, especially the human ones.

    Green Lantern has been a “darker edged” property for a long time – he’s a serious dude, in fact the only levity to be found is the interaction with characters like Guy Gardener, Killowog, and other GLs.

    It probably doesn’t make sense to you because you don’t have any understanding of the character or the comic property. 

    I’ve said it previously on another GL post – the tone the next GL needs to capture is that of the Empire Strikes Back, which is certainly a DARK film, but also containing a lot of action, and great character moments.  If Robinov is thinking along those lines, then I’m totally in agreement with him.

  • Jmcreer

    GL isn’t made for your kids.  That’s why we have Pixar.  Take them to Cars 3 and let the rest of us enjoy GL 2 as it should be.  When your kids are older THEN they can see it.  Or better yet, get them to wait for the cartoon.

    No disrespect intended (I have a 7yr old myself).

  • Gambit347

    First off, let’s face it: there isn’t going to be a Green Lantern sequel. This movie cost about $200 million to make, with an additional $100 million in marketing costs. The current Worldwide gross, according to Box Office Mojo: $154,501,789.

    That’s right. This movie didn’t even make back its production costs. There’s NO WAY any intelligent business person, even one at WB, would seriously consider a sequel within the next ten years.

    WB is only saying this to save face for the next couple months before the concept is outright shelved.

    And I’m saying all this as a HUUUUUGE Green Lantern fan.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_QKN5MHOI6VUFOYCTV5REK7M7A4 Jacob

    We have Pixar, but GL is over at Warner. Not Disney. Warner does not have Pixar.

  • Teece34

    I love it how superheroes aren’t for children anymore. Just for whiny 40-somethings. Wow… I feel for your 7 yr old.

  • http://all-loserssquad.blogspot.com/ The Ronin

    Yes, he wants a movie targeted at an older audience. clearly he sounds like the worst parent ever. 

  • Anonymous

    We have  Pixar, but GL is Warner. not Disney. Warner has not Pixar.

     Reality Television Shows

  • Jmcreer

    By “we” I’m referring to the general audience.

  • Jmcreer

    Can’t recall saying that “superheroes” aren’t for children anymore.  There are plenty of superhero films out there that are appropriate for children – the original Superman series, the original Batman franchise and Thor.  In addition, there are many, many, many animated superhero cartoons on TV that children under ten can watch as well.

    However as a good parent I’m reluctant to expose my children to comic-based properties that are not intended for them at a young age e.g. Dark Knight or Iron Man 1 & 2 (burning terrorists isn’t child friendly IMO).    Don’t feel the need to “feel” for my child – he’s in great hands.  He’s not being raised by someone who feels entitled to see everything comics-based with their child at the cinemas because he’s got the right to do so, blah, blah, blah…  He’s being raised by someone with commonsense.  He was quite happy to see Cars 2, Kung Fu Panda 2, Mr Popper’s Penguins, and can’t wait to see Smurfs.  GL isn’t even on his radar.  When/ if GL2 comes around we’ll see as he’ll be older.

    And as a comic fan I’m not going to demand or expect that certain comic-book properties pander to a young audience that they are clearly NOT written for.  Green Lantern is not a child’s comic therefore it shouldn’t be viewed as a small child-friendly film.  I don’t care if he wears spandex and has a magical ring – the character and the stories aren’t written for small children, and haven’t intended to be since the sixties.  Go read a few of them before you make ignorant assumptions.

    Sure, there are lots of toys and merchandise tied to GL that are clearly aimed at small children.  All that means is that Warner Brothers have once again irresponsibly tried to make money out of a product that shouldn’t have been aimed at the same audience as Cars and G-Force (Dark Knight comes to mind).

    Can’t recall whining about anything either…

  • Jmcreer

    At least it’s nice to know that Teece 34 is a huge fan of “Batman and Robin” which is clearly intended for children.  Of course if he loves Dark Knight or Batman Begins, well, he’s just a hypocrite (which is much worse than a whiny fanboy)

  • Jmcreer

    Try at least 16 yrs – Kyle Rayner’s girlfriend was brutally murdered and stuffed in a fridge in 1995.  I recall Rayner dismembered the culprit and placed his body parts on a series of asteroids as revenge.  Yep, really child friendly.

  • Boyblunder

    I think zoz-soz is mentally impaired

  • Boyblunder

    If that were the case superhero movies wouldn’t make so much money…just saying

  • That One Guy Says

    I think you don’t get sarcasm.

  • Coryjameson

    The problem with Green Lantern is in the concept itself. A galactic police force is simultaneously incredibly absurd and boring at the same time.

    Absurdity:
    – Green Lanterns can travel faster than light (in order to reach Oa), yet it takes them some significant time to get to a location on a planet?!
    – Every alien speaks english
    – The Oans/Guardians of the Universe
    – The Green Lantern oath
    – Forgetting that not every alien breathes the same atmosphere
    – I could go on

    Boring
    – Green Lanterns can apparently do anything. Yet they don’t
    – There’s literally no sense of danger
    – Hector Hammond
    – Carol Ferris
    – Oans
    – Oa
    – The Incongruent powers where they seemingly can do anything one moment but the second they get on a planet, their powers scale down considerably.

    Green Lantern is just a badly thought out concept that has no business being in movies.

  • http://www.therawness.com T.

    “Edgier” and “darker” make sense for Batman in a way that they just don’t for Green Lantern, a character that is entirely rooted in child logic.

    Batman is pure “child logic.” A rich kid who buys himself unlimited toys and can kick an inhuman amount of ass singlehandedly. The Batman/Punisher one-shot made a convincing case that developmentally Batman is essentially frozen at the stage of a vengeful child from the moment his parents died. I found the case it made pretty persuasive. Although Batman is more realistic than Green Lantern, it’s just as guilty of being “child logic.”

    He’s a space cop with a magic wishing ring for a weapon – and based
    around a much more uplifting message (Overcoming fear) than Batman, one
    that would seem to be at odds with the idea of an edgier, darker story.

    Hal Jordan is not traditionally based on overcoming fear. In fact, I think this is what I think the biggest mistake the Green Lantern movie made. Hal Jordan in the comics was traditionally shown as being pretty fearless. That’s one of the reasons the ring chose him in the first place. In fact, I think Kyle Rayner had to deal more with overcoming fear once he got the ring. Hal didn’t have those issues. I don’t know if Geoff Johns retconned Hal’s origin, but far as I remember, although Hal was a screwup in many areas learning to overcome fear wasn’t one of them.

    Also, it’s ironic you say that the Nolan treatment works for Batman but not for Green Lantern because the latter character is about overcoming fear and the former character isn’t, when the entire overarching them in the first Nolan Batman movie was explicitly about overcoming fear. In fact, google “Batman Begins Overcome Fear” and you will see tons of quotes from the movie where people are teaching Bruce Wayne to overcome fear. In fact, this theme is made even more literal in the fact he has to fight a supervillain whose main power is making one’s fears come alive.

    Therefore if Green Lantern IS about conquering fear as you claim, that would be a point in FAVOR of Nolanizing a Green Lantern movie, since Nolan’s Batman movies specifically tackle that specific theme at length.

    Mind you, I’m not a fan of the idea of a Nolan-like take on Green Lantern either. I just think your reasoning against it is faulty.

  • http://www.therawness.com T.

    I’d have to disagree. I think Incredibles is the best superhero big screen movie ever and it was PG. And the Timmverse handled all the properties better and more maturely than any live action adaptation of a superhero I’ve seen yet, and those were made for daytime TV. I think going PG-13 and higher actually makes creators lazier as they get tempted to shortcut by substituting adult sexual and violent content for actual mature characterization and themes.

  • Anonymous

    I’m not a fan of just making things edgy and dark for the sake of making things edgy and dark, but you’re right. Green Lantern has been almost a superhero horror comic at times in the past few years. It can handle dark and it should be scary, but just not so much that it loses any sense of fun and adventure.

  • Destroyer

    I agree on some points, but a lot of the absurdity you view is explained better in the comics than it was in the film. The ring essentially acts as a universal translator, provides life support (hence why they can travel in space), and traveling at those speeds while on a planet is different than doing so in outer space. Characters like the Flash and Superman can think as fast as they move, while GL’s are still human. Or whatever race they are.

  • Anonymous

    A few things. Not every alien speaks English, the ring translates and it also creates a breathable environment within it’s aura so atmosphere isn’t a problem. And I disagree completely with your Boring things. Much like Superman there can be a sense of danger with Green Lantern, you just need a good writer. Hector Hammond and Carol Ferris, while not portrayed as best as possible in the movie, have been written well and are not integral to the Green Lantern concept. I don’t see how the planet Oa is boring, unless you’re taking about it’s design in the movie, which I think is a case of not being shown enough of it. And I have no idea what you mean when you say their powers scale down when they get on a planet.

    Sorry, but I just don’t like it when people insult my favourite concept in comics and say it doesn’t deserve a chance to be in movies.

  • RunnerX13

    Did you see the movie?  There was nothing in it I would say was inappropriate for kids.

  • Cjorg2

    Once again you make broad comments on a subject you know little about. Why am I not surprised?

    – GL’s can use the ring to fly faster than light – which requires a lot of energy from the ring, making it quite dangerous to possibly enter a battle with your ring near depleted.  That’s why they rarely do it.
    – No they don’t
    – So you’re an atheist then? Have trouble with omnipotence?
    – Guess you’ve never sung a national anthem or been a boy scout.
    – The ring provides an atmosphere.
    – please don’t!!!!!

    – No they can’t – it’s all about experience and guts.  Every cop has a gun but it doesn’t make them as good as each other.
    -again, you highlight your ignorance about the property
    – see above
    – see above
    – see above
    – already explained that.

    Your comments are the badly thought out concept and have no business being on Spinoff

  • Talmerian

    Three word fix: DROP MARC GUGGENHEIM

  • Tae55

    Guess what. The movie wasn’t that bad either. Don’t give into the hack reviewing on this one.

  • Jimmy Dee

    Gambit: First off, left’s face it: you don’t know what you’re talking about.

    The studio has REPEATEDLY said they are dedicated to making the sequel.  Unequivocally, they’re in.  Sure, the movie may have performed very poorly at the box office, but between licensing and upcoming revenue to be made off home video sales, digital video sales and other outlets, the movie will ultimately, just barely, break even.  But breaking even for this movie isn’t as important as it is for the next.  See, WB NEEDS new franchises. Harry Potter has come to an end.  Nolan era Batman is coming to an end.  Superman is a mystery.  WB is investing in franchises and sure, they may or may not get it right, but they are trying to invest in their future and they believe GL is worth the investment. 

    There’s a long term play here and you’re talking short term reactionary thinking.