By now I’m sure we all know that Super Hero films can be massive hits. Of course, on the other side of the coin, we know that they can be super disappointments. But as long as there is that little glimmer of potential, potential money making ability, studio’s will continue to crank them out. No one in Hollywood can resist money, it’s one of life’s guarantees: You will die (eventually) You will have to pay taxes, and Hollywood exec’s are money grubbing s.o.b’s. The fact that these types of films are so popular with established fan bases usually means that they are released during the summer, when the overwhelming majority of box-office smashes are released. But one of the hottest properties from the genre at this point in time is The Green Lantern, and as we stand the film will receive a December release date. Really? It’s time to question why. If the hero flicks make money during the summer, why release it in December? Is it just a case of the studio giving us all an early Christmas present, or are there issues with the film? It is entirely possible that this is a case of the latter, as the film is being “rushed” into production. That doesn’t bode well for the future of the Lantern.
I have obtained a copy of the script that is being used as the basis for this film, written by Greg Berlanti, Michael Green and Marc Guggenheim. I’ve read it through multiple times. Some of you may remember that not too long ago, a copy of the supposed script for Green Lantern found it’s way to the web. I’ve read that one too. I’m fairly familiar with the concepts that are being explored, at least the ones that the writers want to explore. Now I know that this version will end up being rather far from the finished product, but it gives us a unique look into the writers minds at this point in time. And I think that is way cool! I see the general vision for GL at this moment. The similarities between the older script and the newer one lead me to believe that they will try to keep the film as close to the original script as possible in terms of scale and major plot points. That could be a really good thing for the film. The first script explored the beauty and the mystique of Oa and deep space, and the film felt massive. All of those aspects are there in the latest version, but it is clear that the budget cuts that the studio reportedly wanted to make for the project, are going to happen. It feels less fantastical, yet more dramatic. Reading the script though, while different slightly, still was an experience. I could see visions of the words being played out before my eyes. My imagination ran wild with trying to see the film as the writers saw it.
Now is the time to turn away if you don’t want to know anything about the project, because the rest of this post will contain spoilers! Fair Warning, reading what the film is envisioned to be now could cause massive disappointment later if the film strays from this point on. Still there? Then you crave the knowledge just like I do. Let’s go over the script, and cover the high points. Once again, this will surely change between now and filming, but it gives us an early insight into what the studio has approved up until this point, which opens up all sorts of things for discussion. It opens in darkness, a lone voice explaining to us the existence of the Lanterns, a presence of good. Cue next scene with Abin Sur flying his space ship through a familiar territory of space and encountering a powerful new foe, Legion! And so early in the film we get action, suspense, and a great shot at one of the key plot points of the film, Legion itself. And it doesn’t really let up there. The film is full of high flying action on a grand scale. We get to see Oa and all the Lanterns in training, which lends to a cool set of shots showing all sorts of aliens wearing the iconic uniform and the green ring.
The rest of the script is littered with goodies for fans of the character. There will be scenes in the film that hint at future heroes and future villains. There are also references to past heroes. There are references of current heroes from other comic book titles. Comic book fans would absolutely love the script. It stays close to the comics and provides a true origin story that is both respectful of the established lore and exciting for everyone. All of this sounds good, but the one glaring issue in the film is that it is chock full of cliches, almost a sickening amount. Imagine, if you will, that you take all the hero cliches from every film you’ve ever seen, and stuck them in one movie. Yeah. It can be that bad at times. For all it’s exciting action and big beautiful sequences, there are a near exact number of cliches that just make you say “Come on!!!” The script ends on a cliche. Sure, it sets up a sequel, but it’s still a cliche. And speaking of sequels, the script was full of notes by presumably the writers, implying that certain aspects of the script were added to open up possibilities for numerous sequels, and even prequels. I found it to be quite annoying. I understand there will be many GL movies, as long as they are making money, but I don’t like the idea of adding a shot for the sole purpose of setting up other films, especially if the scene doesn’t really fit and seems forced.
So all of you that read the first version of the script should know all these things. The sad truth is that the latest version of the script isn’t exactly very different. There are some re-writes, some differences, but nothing major, and the sad cliches were not addressed. So if you’ve read the old script, you essentially know this one. Still, this appears as though the writing is there, so all the studio needs to do is to attach a star build to suit the role, and get a great director. Hopefully they keep the script the same as it is now, which isn’t likely but still possible. Then get a great actor, and the project will do fine. What is the studio thinking about those things at this moment? Let’s cover the actor first. There have been a lot of names tossed around to play Hal Jordan. Most recently, it looks like the studio has “fallen in love” with Anton Yelchin. If you’ve never heard of Yelchin, that’s okay. You’ll find out exactly who he is as he is set to star in two upcoming potential franchises: Star Trek and Terminator Salvation. You would think that two franchises would be enough to keep somebody busy, but Warner Brothers is eyeing Yelchin anyway. Now, I don’t know about you, but I just don’t think Yelchin is “built” to play Jordan. He’d have to add a lot of muscle, and even then he doesn’t exactly have the screen presence required to play a hero that will be carrying a franchise for at least 3 films. I like the guy, but he just isn’t a super hero. Personally I’d rather see Ryan Gosling. But the character still has not been cast.
So we have an expensive script being rushed into production by a studio that doesn’t want to make an expensive movie, we have the title role un-cast (but they are considering an actor that doesn’t fit the role!) and they haven’t even signed the director yet! They are reportedly negotiating with Martin Campbell, whom you may know from his work on two Zorro films, Goldeneye, and Casino Royal. But nothing is official yet, and anything can happen. So there are clear issues surrounding the project. Even if Campbell signs and Warner Brothers decides to allow him to make an expensive movie to match the expensive script, then you still have the largest issue facing the film at this point: They are “rushing” the film into production. You can’t rush a film like that. From everything I know and everything I’ve seen/read, that film is so big that it’s gonna take time to get it done right. If they rush it, they will surely end up cutting out some of the finer points of the film that would almost assuredly be considered inconsequential to the studio. We can’t have that. The Green Lantern deserves a great origin story, INCLUDING all the parts from Oa and the massive battles. Get the best CG people on the planet to do what will surely be the massive amounts of CG for the film. Most importantly, take your time!!!
So maybe the December release is beginning to make more sense. Maybe there are signs that this film won’t be what Warner Brothers thought it would be. I could always be wrong. I’m actually hoping I am. It would be a fantastic early Christmas present to see a great Green Lantern film. And maybe the lack of big time releases in the month lead Warner Brothers to believe that they could dominate the box office for months, possibly making more money than they would if the film was released in the following summer. All I’m saying is, Look at the signs. There is trouble there. Hopefully they right the ship. If they follow the script and get the casting right, we could get a great Lantern film. I love the Green Lantern, and there is nothing I want for Christmas more than a great GL film.