Monday, February 20, 2017

The Green Lantern Movie I Want To See

As I have mentioned on this blog, I have recently re-entered the world of comic books after a quarter-century absence. I am of the opinion that everybody needs silly cultural diversions, and I find comics more fulfilling than television and more ethical than watching the NFL or college sports like I once used to. I also enjoy watching so-bad-it's-awesome movies, but my lovely spouse is not as enamored of this pastime.

I am a born contrarian, so I also tend to like stuff other people don't, like the Mets, White Sox, prog rock, and the Green Lantern. He is definitely a second-tier hero, and being in the DC universe, already has a strike against him in the hipness department. One of the big reasons I like him is that many of his adventures take place in space, and "cosmic comics" are able to render scenes that millions of dollars in CGI can't replicate. One of the things I love most about comics is how they can render visual flights of fancy that other mediums cannot, and Green Lantern is especially conducive to this. He is also limited in key ways as far as his powers are concerned. The Green Lantern derives his power from his ring, and he has his ring as part of his job as a galactic law enforcer. His ring only works through his willpower, meaning that his inevitable human weaknesses can thwart him. Superman never has that problem.

So far there has not been a good film adaptation of the Green Lantern. I have yet to see the Ryan Reynolds flick all the way through, but I've seen and heard enough to know it's sub-par. I doubt we'll get any new adaptation any time soon, especially considering the failures of the Zach Snyder (blech) driven DC films. But I know a great one that could be made, and with a more limited budget, to boot.

Green Arrow gets woke

Back in the early 1970s, when comics were losing readership, DC teamed up Green Lantern with Green Arrow in a short-lived but influential title: Green Lantern and Green Arrow. It was written by Denny O'Neil, and drawn by the great Neal Adams. While the title lasted only about a year, it was revolutionary. After being confronted by an African American man over Green Lantern's neglect in helping the oppressed people on this planet (as opposed to others) he joins with the far more socially conscious Green Arrow on an Easy Rider type road trip across America. That trip and later issues dealt with things like drug abuse, slum lords, racism, environmentalism, and political corruption. While many of the title's stories come across as ham-fisted or dated today, the approach taken was revolutionary.

I would not want to see a period piece or direct adaptation on film, but a Green Lantern movie set today with the same conceit. I would like to see a superhero confronted with their complicity with authority. I would like a superhero movie where structural inequalities and the political system, not outlandish super villains are the enemies. It would be a good way of showing how pernicious and powerful those things are if superheroes who can take on Sinestro cannot defeat them. I also think the interplay between Green Lantern and Green Arrow would work well, and could be used in some interesting ways. Green Arrow would still be the radical, Green Lantern still the decent person unaware of how invested he is in the power structure. Green Arrow could even be used to show the pitfalls of "white saviorism" and bad allyship.

And if I could get real crazy, I would love to see Batman and Superman as antagonists. After all, Batman is a violent, vigilante billionaire out for vengeance with little understanding of social justice. Superman pledges himself to the "American way," which includes a lot of injustice within it. If I could be truly gonzo, I could see a movie where Superman maintains his loyalty to the government under President Trump. In the end Batman would realize that he needs to make war on more than criminals, and Superman would realize that his immigrant roots are more important than his loyalty to the American state.

 I know this will never get made, but a Green Lantern fan can dream, can't he?

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