“In brightest day, in blackest night, No evil shall escape my sight. Let those who worship evil’s might, Beware my power… Green Lantern’s light!“
Growing up, I was actually a huge fan of Green Lantern. Growing up, even when I watched Superfriends, I used to remember that if I could be any of the superheroes, it would be Green Lantern. A ring that was only limited by the power of imagination (and maybe yellow in certain cases) for a kid who’s a writer and an artist with an overactive imagination. Abin Sur what? Sinestro who? As far as Corps go, I’d be the HNIC (Head Neo In Charge) up in that fucker.
I also became a huge fan through John Stewart. It was nice for a change to see someone who looked like me getting to be a superhero. At that point, Stewart was probably the most high profile black superhero on DC’s roster. It was also a win when they brought in Kyle Rayner. His story about lucking into a powerful legacy and actually manning up and taking it on with humility and respect was refreshing. And let’s just say I lived for the shirtless panels and those with Rayner in his boxers, or point blank nude. And when we learned he was actually Latino, that was a huge win. I also knew that meant Hal Jordan’s return (who was dead at that point) would be inevitable because as DC has proven time and time again with Cassandra Cain, Connor Hawke, Ryan Choi, Lian Harper and others, POCs don’t get to take the lead as superheroes.
Watching the movie, I was reminded why I quit reading Green Lantern as a comic.
The series has retrogressed to nothing more than Hal Jordan being propped up as the speshulist speshul Mary Sue who is just so speshul beyond all things speshul.
When I began to write the review for Green Lantern, I suddenly realized that I was essentially writing the same review I penned for Green Hornet. Both films are examples
why the mighty whitey trope needs to die a slow and painful death.
What’s the mighty whitey trope? The anything you can do he can do better, by virtue of being him, he’s so much better than you. While there are variations, the mighty whitey trope is typically the cocky western cis straight white guy who is magically special and have so much untapped potential by virtue of the fact that they are cis straight white males. If it’s a ninja saga, they learn martial arts in weeks faster than all of the other students who have studied the craft their entire lives. If they find themselves in a foreign country or an alternate dimension, rather than learning the customs or being humble enough to respect the culture, they mouth off without thinking and shake things up the western way because the “west side is the best side.”
By default, the mighty straight white guy is usually deemed the most well rounded and the best qualified leader of a superhero team. Women, people of color, and LGBTQ protagonists while special just aren’t special enough.
This trope is most pervasive and it doesn’t occur in a vacuum. There’s a reason why there’s a dearth of stories featuring women, POCs and LGBTQs as the primary protagonists and even fewer where they’re handled with the same care and respectability as the straight white guy.
Green Lantern couldn’t have been more formulaic or predictable if tried.
Let me make one thing clear, I like Ryan Reynolds. He’s funny, he’s charming, he’s charismatic. I think he’s a great leading man and a talented actor. I’ll be honest I had no problem spending $14 to stare at his finely sculpted half naked ass for two hours in 3D. Oh and he’s Canadian so that makes him awesome by default. For that matter, you couldn’t have asked for a more solid cast: Mark Strong, Michael Clarke Duncan, Blake Lively, Tim Robbins, Peter Sarsgaard, and Angela Bassett.
Plotholes were massive. Such as one scene where they don’t explain how Green Lantern knew to show up at a secret base. They even fail to explain that several characters all grew up together and knew each other.
Carol Ferris was pretty much reduced to being a prop and a helpless love interest until it suddenly dawned on the writers in that one scene that oh yeah, she’s a fighter pilot, a formidable business woman and an all-around badass. She should be able to hold her own in a fight.
And then there was Amanda Waller. I had mixed feelings about Angela Bassett playing Waller. I didn’t feel comfortable with a thin actress playing a character whose full-figured, especially seeing that there are so few full figured women (of color) in comics and even fewer that are handled with respect and in such a prominent role. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a hardcore fan of Bassett’s, a Bassetthound in fact. And I knew as an actress she would hold it down. And hold it down she did. However, the role of Waller was so miniscule and a disservice to both Bassett and the character.
If you include Waller in your story, she has to be a major player. A big bad, an anti-heroine, whatever. Her role should be a primary one. There’s a reason why both Batman and Lex Luthor are hesitant to fuck with her, because she’s on their level. Apparently the moviemakers didn’t get this memo which had me giving the side-eye to the film even more.
The themes of fear and will were bludgeoned over your head throughout the movie. I haven’t seen writing this sloppy or hamfisted since Smallville. Hell, I’d even suggest making a drinking game out of each time the word fear and will were used but someone would die of alcohol poisoning.
And just like the comic book, one of the biggest illogical flaws throughout this movie is the mindset that will is good and fear is bad. No. Both are needed to function and one should have a healthy dose of both. The problem with having too much will is that it makes people stubborn pigheaded. Having will without fear makes people act without thinking of the consequences. Fear makes you cautious, fear keeps you safe. Fear makes you assess the consequences before acting. Yes it can be a detriment if allowed to rule you unchecked but the absence of fear does no make someone courageous. It’s being afraid and doing what’s right that makes someone a hero.
The special effects were nice, and the movie elicited a few chuckles but overall, consider me less than impressed. Not the crappiest comic book movie put out, but I’m not exactly holding my breath for a sequel.
I will say this. I now feel vindicated by not getting John Stewart movie. Because at least Stewart would’ve brought something different which probably would’ve strengthened the narrative. But oh well. Hey Hollywood, how’s that racism working out for you?
On the plus side, the superstars of the WWE recently did a photoshoot of the Lantern Spectrum. This amused me to no end and I definitely had to share.