One June 17th (in Ireland at least) the new movie spawned from DC Comics characters, Green Lantern, will be released. When the pictures and teasers started to dribble out across the internet I shared some of the apprehension voiced by many others. The special effects looked poor and the suit looked particularly ridiculous. But after viewing the last trailer I find myself looking forward to heading the cinema on or around release day.
It’s important though, for the continued development of DC property into film and television that Green Lantern is not only successful, but also good. Good acting, good direction, good script, good in the overall sense of things. DC hasn’t had the movie success enjoyed by Marvel. Forgetting just for a moment the Chris Nolan’s Batman Begins and The Dark Knight (and animated features) let’s look at the last five DC related movies:
All five of which were either terrible or severely lacking in displaying fundamental understanding of the material (Watchmen and Zack Snyder, yes, it’s you I’m looking at).
So we got from Marvel were four enjoyable, fun, well presented (maybe not exceptional), successful movies. Along with one absolute disaster (oh Wolverine, tut tut tut).
Not only are Marvels movies more successful in terms of their quality but the amount of output from Marvel has been phenomenal. In the last ten years there have been twenty-two movies based on Marvel characters. Whereas there have been only five from the DC camp. Marvel even have five upcoming releases scheduled, whereas DC only have two (omitting GL), with the finale of Christopher Nolan’s Batman arc, and the reboot of Superman with Zack Snyder’s (oh dear) Man Of Steel. (Wikipedia has nice lists of all this stuff, here and here).
Green Lantern needs set the tone for further DC movies. The Dark Knight Rises will exist out on it’s own, as Batman does in the comics. But Green Lantern should be in the vein of Superman and other fantastical characters. It needs to be full of the amazing and stunning. It needs to make people want to be a part of the universe, to buy and read the comics, to see the sequel. Should it fail, or deliver a weak performance on any level then that does not bode well for Man Of Steel and beyond.
It’s understandable why DC’s output is so low in some respects. The Batman films from the nineties were terrible after Tim Burton’s 1989 interpretation. Superman III, IV and Returns were… well… not good. Catwoman: WTF? They keep starting well and then run face first into the wall. The recent additions of Jonah Hex and Watchmen do nothing great for them in the long run. I imagine the most successful DC movie ever was the completely fictional James Cameron’s Aquaman from the wonderful Entourage, another one from HBO.
Their live action feature film output is pitiful, but their animated feature, animated television and live action television productions are phenomenal. Batman: The Animated Series, Superman: The Animated Series, Batman Beyond, Teen Titans, Justice League, Justice League Unlimited, Smallville, Swamp Thing, All Star Superman, Superman: Doomsday, and on and on and on. The list is long, and full of exceptionally made television shows and films. Most of the ones listed here are award winning and one or two are so memorable that people think instantly of them when speaking of the characters (Batman: The Animated Series for example. So good even people new to it fall in love with it). I suppose we can solace in knowing that if the movies continue to be lackluster we’ll still have amazing television and animation to look forward to.(Another good Wikipedia list here).
Maybe the answer to their woes in the cinema is to look to other DC imprints for help. From these other imprints we’ve been given V for Vendetta, RED, The Losers, Road to Perdition and A History Of Violence. Well made and well received. Would it be possible to ever expect a movie or series based on The Sandman or Preacher? Maybe not, maybe it’s just the fanboy in me dreaming again… But if Green Lantern works, and Man Of Steel delivers… If DC finally get’s it’s mojo maybe one day we will see more of their heroes and villains on screen. Maybe some Green Arrow, or a little Flash, possibly even a Wonder Woman (not dressed like this, please no not looking like this).
So I want Green Lantern to be good. I need it to be. Because I’m that guy that still gets caught up in the sense of wonder delivered by heroes. My imagination runs wild and all of a sudden I’m five years old again. I’m tying a red blanket around my neck and I’m running around with one fist pointed to the sky.
And I’m flying.