Here comes another comic book movie

It is well known that the blockbuster machine that is Hollywood has run out of ideas. So to keep the dollars flowing, every other movie release is a remake/reboot/reimagining of past hits or even misses (like ‘I Spit on you Grave,’ I mean…really?) with varied results, from the unquestionable success of ‘Star Trek’ to the fiasco of ‘Wolfman’.

In search of new ideas, the industry believes it has found a gold mine by producing comic book-based movies about all the major and obscure superheroes. This obviously makes a lot of financial sense, as comics already have a dedicated following, which can easily be leveraged by bringing a fan-favorite character to the big screen. There are currently more than 50 superhero properties in various stages of development and production, and trailers for ‘Green Lantern’ and ‘Cowboys & Aliens’ were released last month.

FREAK ALERT!! Now considering the ‘Green Lantern’ trailer – if like me, you know the difference between the Marvel and DC Universes – watching the antics of Ryan Reynolds (of ‘The Proposal’ fame with Sandra Bullock, and recently voted the People magazine’s sexiest man alive), one has the impression of watching ‘Wally West-Flash’ (yes, there is more than one Flash) goofing around as ‘Hal Jordan-Green Lantern’ (yes, there are also more than a Green Lantern). The casting choice is a bit off, to put it mildly, as this is not Hal Jordan’s personality.

Why does this matter, you may ask? Well, if Hollywood is serious about cashing in on the huge comic book market while also appealing to the average audience that struggles to correctly identify an Avenger or a member of the Justice League, then they need to offer well-developed content. and investigated. pieces, and not just special effects shows that have very little or very artificial plots (I’m looking at you Michael Bay).

Since these movie studios invest a ton in bringing these characters to the big screen, they have every right to play them however they see fit. However, when I expect to see the “cocky, arrogant, do-gooder I love to hate” that IS Hal Jordan, and get the “playful, spirited man-child” that IS Wally West, then I’m not so sure I want to see that movie.

It’s also fair to point out that the movie studios aren’t entirely to blame. As in times when fanboys were allowed substantial creative input in what would be the final product, the subsequent box office receipts did not justify the investment, either because the film was too faithful to the source material and therefore not attracted enough mainstream audiences, or because fanboys didn’t come out in the expected numbers to see something they’re already quite familiar with. These films become artistic and critical successes, but also commercial failures (see ‘Kick-Ass’ and ‘Scott Pilgrim VS’ as case studies).

So where does this leave us? As for ‘Dark Knight’ and ‘Iron Man’, you get 2 ‘Jonah Hex’ and ‘X-Men Origins: Wolverine’ (make no mistake, this was an atrocious movie, commercial success notwithstanding). The solution I suggest is to focus on the source material!

Each Super Hero has an essence, which when drawn from mythology, succinctly defines who they are and what they represent. This is what caught the attention of geeks when Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster first created the ‘Man of Steel’ in 1932 and still has them hooked for decades to come. Like what human being cannot relate to the struggle of finding your place in a world where there is no other like you. Or how about the prejudice that you deal with because you’re different (X-men). Consider again the damage and pain that uncontrolled anger can cause you and your loved ones (Hulk).

So, on a fundamental level, ‘Batman Begins’ and ‘The Dark Knight’ were successful because they illustrate the strength one gets from discipline and overcoming adversity (as well as the fact that Christopher Nolan is a great director). Just as the Iron Man movies identify the importance of a life lived for a cause for which one is willing to risk everything. The common denominator here is that these are character-driven movies, and not just a collection of montages and sets that give the director a chance to play with the latest special effects wizardry.

If all superhero movies in development take this approach to character portrayal, then we can look forward to the release of ‘Thor’ and ‘Captain America’ as they lead into the ‘Avengers’ ensemble movie. With this in mind, there is still hope for ‘Green Lantern’.

FREAK ALERT!! To draw a premature analogy, all “true believers” would agree that casting Tobey Maguire as Spider-Man was a terrible decision. Peter Parker is a witty know-it-all who throws a taunt faster than any villain can throw a punch. He is not the emo sap that Maguire played. However, I would venture that anyone who has seen Spider-Man will agree that growing up is hard. Dealing with new responsibilities on the cusp of adulthood is a difficult time for everyone. This is the essence of Spider-Man, and it was portrayed correctly in the movies (although not in the awful ‘Spider-Man 3’ with Topher Grace as Venom, really?), though the character’s proper personality was not conveyed. There is a Reboot (that word again) of the franchise planned for 2012 by Marc Webb (‘500 Days of Summer’), where I hope we see the real Spidie, but I’m getting sidetracked.

The point is that if I leave the theater after seeing ‘Green Lantern,’ reflecting on the great potential that resides within each of us and the enormous possibilities that can result when we have the courage and focus to take on great challenges, then ‘ Green Lantern’ would be a successful movie, even if it’s Wally West in a Lantern uniform. So we can look forward to the rumored sequels that aim to be like ‘Stars Wars’ in scale and execution. Otherwise, if it turns out to be another debacle, I’d only watch movies from directors Christopher Nolan (‘Inception’), Zack Snyder (‘300’) and Darren Aronofsky (‘The Fighter’). Wait, but all three are scheduled to go into production for ‘The Dark Knight Rises’, ‘The Man of Steel’ and ‘The Wolverine’ respectively… bummer… so I guess the Age of Super Heroes is here . to stay!!

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