Warner Bros. film group President Jeff Robinov really loves dark things. Back in 2008, while discussing how Warner’s renewed approach to the comic book film will be handled, he said that the films to come would be “darker.” Today, when speaking to the L.A. Times’ Hero Complex blog, the studio head said that Green Lantern 2 will be better because it will be “darker” and “edgier.”
Yes, you read that right. Not only is Green Lantern, a film that has grossed $154, 462,444 worldwide against an estimated production budget of $200 million with little or no chance of making up the difference at this point, getting a sequel, but also the best idea they have to make the next one better is to make it more like The Dark Knight.
Here is the exact quote with the reasoning why the sequel might do better than the original:
“We had a decent opening so we learned there is an audience,” said Warner Bros. film group President Jeff Robinov, pointing to the film’s box office debut of $53 million. “To go forward we need to make it a little edgier and darker with more emphasis on action…. And we have to find a way to balance the time the movie spends in space versus on Earth.”
This, of course, is a prime example of why DC Comics is lagging so far behind Marvel when it comes to getting its comics up on screen in a successful fashion. It believes that concepts that don’t lend themselves to being dark and edgy, like, say, Green Lantern, should be dark and edgy, and concepts that are dark and edgy, like, say, Jonah Hex, they make campy and cartoonish.
Not every DC Comics character is like Batman. The Dark Knight was so successful for a variety of reasons, not just because it was dark. But if the dark and edgy tone had anything to do with that film’s success it is because the character lent itself to being dark and edgy. More action in a Green Lantern film? Yeah, that would make it better? Having Hal be all scowly and angst-ridden? That would be a violation of the character.
In hopes of nipping the dark and edgy movement in the bud, here are my five ideas to make Green Lantern 2 better than Green Lantern that doesn’t involve making him darker or edgier. No need to pay me, but if you feel the need, giving me a DVD of every superhero movie Warners made would be not be refused:
- Hire a new director: It looks like this will happen, and that’s a good thing. Martin Campbell approached directing the film with the same fervor most people dedicate to flossing. It was a rote, by the numbers offering that had little or no emotion impact.
- Instill a sense of wonder: A human being who was transported to an alien planet should show some signs of amazement and curiousity. Hal in this movie treated it like he was visiting a new Banana Republic Outlet that just opened at his local mall. The movie would have been so much better if they played up the wonders of Oa through the eyes of someone who had never imagined anything like it before (which, technically, is how they should have approached it). Look at how James Cameron presented Pandora in Avatar. He sold the beauty and the magic of the place, therefore it resonated more with the audiences.
- Don’t make Sinestro the villain just yet: I winced when I saw Sinestro put on the yellow ring during the credits of Green Lantern. The character had gone from giving begrudging respect of Hal to becoming his enemy. There’s a pretty good story there, especially considering that Sinestro isn’t portrayed as being a good, if somewhat arrogant, man in the first film. There several good stories there, depending on what they would choose. A good man turning evil, and friend betraying friend is the reason why X-Men: First Class was ever made and why people were so hyped up for the Star Wars prequels. If anything, GL 2 should portray Sinestro’s path to the side of evil, not have it start with him there already. They’re losing a great amount of drama if they do it that way.
- More ring constructs: One of the best things about Green Lantern’s ring is that it could make anything Hal’s imagination could come up with. There’s no reason why it should create anything the writer’s or special effects designers come up with. The few times they appeared in the first film, you could see they were on the right track.
- Show don’t tell: Having Carol tell us that she’s known Hal since they were in the second grade is nowhere near as good as showing us their relationship as kids. But that’s what this film did. There was a part in the original script that showed Hal, Carol, and Hector as kids. It was part of the sequence where Hal’s father dies, so likely it was shot. But the powers that be decided to go the exposition route, which far more boring. It’s not as egregious as them telling us the story of Oa and the Green Lanterns–twice–instead of allowing us to learn all about it through Hal’s eyes. Most audiences aren’t stupid. Comic book film audiences are especially smart. Show them when ever you can and only tell them if you absolutely have to.