Shedding Light on the Lantern

This is the moment so many comic nerds (myself included) have waited for. In less than 24 hours a cocky flyboy will receive a magic ring, meet some little blue men and save the universe. Green Lantern is finally here. 

I won’t lie: the early reviews have been bad. I mean, X-Men 3/Matrix Reloaded bad. So consider my expectations as tempered as they can be. Still, the fact that Hollywood has spent a Kilowog-sized pile of cash to create a faithful film adaptation of my favorite comic book has me giddy. Because there is the potential, and I want to stress that word: potential, to create a superhero movie franchise unlike any that we have seen.

So, what makes Lantern so unique? The premise for starters. You see, there isn’t just one Green Lantern, like there is one Batman and one Superman. There are thousands of them. The Green Lantern Corps is an intergalactic police force, supervised by the Guardians of the Universe (the aforementioned little blue men). Each Lantern wears a ring which can create powerful constructs from their own imaginations (in other words, if they think of a bowling ball, the ring creates a giant bowling ball which then knocks over the bad guys). The hero of this tale is the first human to become a Green Lantern- a Han Solo-esque pilot named Hal Jordan. He fights evil in a universe filled with some of the most bizarre life forms this side of Mos Eisley. You know how Christopher Nolan makes those awesome movies about what it would be like if Batman was real? This is not one of those stories. It’s a sprawling space opera with a list of colorful characters such as:

Hal Jordan– Test pilot, Ladies Man and all-around lovable rogue. A taller, slightly less-conceited version of Maverick in Top Gun. When the movie was announced, I thought it was too bad we couldn’t get the 1986 version of Dennis Quaid to somehow hop through a wormhole and onto the Warner Brothers’ sound stage. Instead, we got Ryan Reynolds, which I’m cool with. He’s charismatic, good with the quips, and  boasts the prerequisite stud factor. Fanboys cried foul when he was cast. They wanted someone like Nathan Fillion (because they always want Nathan Fillion). But early buzz is that Reynold’s performance is the best part of the movie.

Carol Ferris– Aviation heir, pilot, and Hal’s potential love interest. Her dad owns Ferris Aviation and she and Hal have one of those will they/won’t they relationships (spoiler: they will). I should point out that eventually, Carol becomes Hal’s enemy/ally Star Sapphire. Blake Lively was cast in this part, and I have seen or heard nothing that has me too excited about her performance. Actually, that first trailer gave me flashbacks to the terribly miscast Silk Spectre in Watchmen. Fingers crossed.

Sinestro, Kilowog, Tomar-Re– These are all veteran Green Lanterns who show Hal the ropes. Sinestro is simply the most powerful Lantern in the universe- the ultimate crusader against evil. But with a name like Sinestro, you know he won’t be a hero forever. I mean, seriously- Sinestro? Why not Baron Murder Von Puppykiller? Kilowog is my favorite GL character- a giant, pig-faced drill instructor who beats newbies into a mushy, green pulp. Tomar-Re is a fish-like dude who is the conscience of the Green Lantern Corps. Kilowog and Tomar are CG constructs voiced by Michael Clarke-Duncan and Geoffery Rush, respectively. Sinestro is played by Sherlock Holmes’ baddie Mark Strong (just in case you hadn’t figured out that he’s a bad guy).

Hector Hammond– So, apparently this is the main human villain in the flick. It’s a curious decision, because Hector isn’t a character that lends himself to movies. In the comic book, most of his dialogue is telepathic (emanating from a cranium that is several yards in circumference). He has mind control abilities/telekinesis , etc.

There are plenty of other characters from the book that are in the movie. Parallax is a malevolent force determined to destroy the Guardians. Abin Sur is the Lantern that passes his ring on to Hal. You’ll also see Green Lanterns that look like rocks, jellyfish and giant eyeballs. At this point, I’m just hoping they don’t screw it up too bad. Because the potential for a one-of-a-kind adventure is there. Even if this one is sub-par, the source material is strong enough to create a sequel that is far superior (ala X-Men 2 and Spider Man 2). So, I’ll be wearing my ring and watching this weekend (and praying to the Guardians just in case).

NOTE: Hal Jordan is the first human Green Lantern, but other Earthlings have followed him in the pages of DC Comics. The best known of these is John Stewart. No, not from the Daily Show. He’s the African-American GL that you see in the Justice League cartoon. There is also former football player Guy Gardner, and a young artist named Kyle Rayner. All of these men have worn the ring and battled evil across the universe. In a perfect world, the Green Lantern franchise could be like James Bond- you do a few movies with Reynolds as Hal, then you get somebody new to take over the franchise as John Stewart. Then Guy Gardner could have his shot. And, if life is fair, Kyle Rayner will never appear in a movie, as he is a gigantic weenie.

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