While I haven’t seen it, the consensus is that Green Lantern is hot garbage, the type of overproduced and poorly written adaptation that has long plagued the comic book film genre. Is the problem an essential one, as raised by the Washington Post?
No matter how many times he’s been reimagined, Green Lantern retains a crucial flaw: He’s a DC Comics character, without the weaknesses and neuroses that make Marvel Comics heroes interesting (sometimes even on screen).
I tend to agree with this sentiment. For the most part, the only DC comics I’ve enjoyed (outside of those on the Vertigo imprint) are Batman and specific Superman ones, like All-Star Superman: comics that are grounded in true human experience, no matter how super-powered.*
A recent post over at Nerve proposed five superheroes who should’ve gotten movies before the Green Lantern. I don’t think they make a compelling case for any entries on their list, with Wonder Woman and the Flash sharing the same DC weaknesses as Green Lantern.
The suggestion of Grant Morrison’s transgressive The Invisibles is a nod to the rich world of independent comics, even if the author of the Nerve piece admits there’s no chance of it ever being a film. Its inclusion raises another issue: the viability of less mainstream comics or graphic novels as films. Along those lines, there are a whole host of properties that beg for adaptations. Each of the following has been kicked around in development, and practically beg for cinematic versions: Garth Ennis’ Preacher and The Boys; Brian K. Vaughn’s Y: The Last Man, Ex Machina, and Runaways; Warren Ellis’ Transmetropolitan.
The question remains: just because something can be adapted, should it be? The works of Alan Moore (Watchmen, V for Vendetta, From Hell, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen) have been adapted – without Moore’s involvement – with varying degrees of faithfulness and quality. The same could be expected to the works of Ennis, Vaughn, and Ellis. Too much would be left out of the script, due to length or graphic content. The success of Game of Thrones could portend more small screen adaptations of nerd lore, but for now, premium TV adaptations are pie-in-the-sky.
Over the next year and a half, the landscape is littered with big budget comic book films: Captain America: The First Avenger will lead into the mega-crossover The Avengers, both Superman (The Man of Steel) and Spider-Man (The Amazing Spider-Man) will be rebooted, and Christopher Nolan will end his Batman trilogy, arguably the raison d’être for this glut of superhero films. While X-Men: First Class was an imperfect success, will the next batch fare as well?
After these A-listers, what’s next? Are there five superheroes who would’ve been better on film than Green Lantern? With few exceptions, I think Hollywood would be scraping the bottom of the barrel at this point. One exception, coincidentally, is another Ryan Reynolds vehicle: Deadpool, which has a writer and director attached but has been in development hell for nearly a decade. The “Merc with a Mouth” is no Jesse Custer or Spider Jerusalem, but at least he’s not in the Justice League.
* Watchmen, while published by DC, doesn’t fit in the same universe as the majority of DC books. In fact, it’s a response to that type of superhero mythology.