Toot-toot, everyone hop onboard the sequel train! This summer’s gaggle of superhero films experienced mixed results at the box office. Thor and Captain America were good but not quite Iron Man. X-Men: First Class proved that most moviegoers would just prefer a new Wolverine, thankyousomuch. And Green Lantern was the rare bad movie that marketing and foreign audiences couldn’t save, grossing a mere $154 million worldwide. But Warner Bros. is unbowed by the emerald superhero’s box office failure: Studio president Jeff Robinov tells the Los Angeles Times that the studio is currently developing a Lantern sequel. (Robinov explains, “We need to make it a little edgier and darker,” which is true, although I’d settle for just “better,” too.)
More intriguingly, the studio is discussing a potential film based on super-speedster the Flash for 2014. In the hopes of creating more Dark Knights and less Daredevils, here are five essential lessons that potential films like The Flash could learn from Green Lantern:
1. Digital Effects are bad. Or at least they’re bad when they’re overrused, and few films can match Green Lantern for sheer amount of over-CGI’d tomfoolery. (Yeesh, even the guy’s costume was digital.) Batman auteur Christopher Nolan made a point of avoiding computer effects in favor of old-fashioned stuntwork with The Dark Knight, which is one of the main reasons that The Dark Knight feels like it was made in the real world and not in a computer universe inhabited by color-blind unicorns. There are plenty of awesome visual opportunities with a hero like the Flash, but don’t just plop the lead actor on a treadmill in front of a greenscreen and let the visual artists fill in the blanks.
2. You really, really don’t need to tell us everything about the mythology in the first movie. Green Lantern suffered from a classic case of overexposition. The movie started with a long narration/montage explaining the origin of the universe, the nature of the Green Lantern corps, why yellow is evil, etc. It didn’t make any sense, so later a different character explained the same thing, and then Ryan Reynolds explained it to Blake Lively, and it was like a game of telephone that ended with everyone’s head exploding. Keep the first movie simple. (Put it this way: If anyone in The Flash says the words “The Speed Force,” then the battle has been lost.)
3. You don’t need to make your superhero a tortured Peter Parker stand-in. Not every superhero needs to be an emotionally-damaged orphan with unexplored daddy issues. Part of the fun of Hal Jordan in the comic books was that he was such a high-flying jet-age jock — a truly fearless guy. The film labored to make Jordan a more “relatable” guy by playing up his dead-dad story with all the subtlety of a Hot Shots! remake.
4. If you are going to make him a tortured Peter Parker stand-in, at least make him look like Peter Parker. After a decade ruled by non-traditional actors like Tobey Maguire, Robert Downey Jr., and Christian Bale, this summer the superhero genre suddenly took a detour into the Nation of Handsome Men. There’s nothing wrong with casting dudes like Ryan Reynolds, Chris Hemsworth, and Chris Evans, but if you’re trying to make your hero an everyman, it helps to cast someone who actually looks like an everyman. (Put it this way: Ryan Gosling should probably not play Barry Allen.)
5. Don’t save your best stuff for the sequel. Mark Strong’s Sinestro was one of the standout characters in Green Lantern, and the character has a pretty good history as a comic book villain. Pity that he spent the first film stranded on a greenscreen space rock, while the film focused on the giant swarming pile of roaring mediocrity that was Parallax.
PopWatchers, any other valuable lessons we can learn from Green Lantern? Do we even need to specify that you shouldn’t make the supermodel-hot girlfriend character a brilliant businesslady who also flies test planes?
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