Green Lantern, starring Ryan Reynolds, the world's leading collector of failed superhero franchise leads, opens today. Reynolds plays Hal Jordon, a fearless test pilot who's chosen to become part of an intergalactic peacekeeping force called the Green Lanterns. They use their power rings to harness the green energy of "willpower" (members of the Lantern Corps have been raised on summer blockbusters, so their expressions of willpower look like bad CG) against the yellow force of fear.
There are power rings for every color and emotion of the spectrum in the Green Lantern world. Here's a look at what those Lanterns' movies would be like.
Green: Willpower In brightest day, in blackest night, No evil shall escape my sight. Let those who worship evil's might, Beware my power... Green Lantern's Light!
The OGs of space protection, y'all. These dudes have been around for three billion years, operating in more than 3,500 sectors of the galaxy. They were founded and are run by an immortal race called the Guardians, who live on the Lantern headquarters of the planet Oa. Notable Lanterns: Hal Jordon, John Stewart, Kyle Rayner, Guy Gardner, Sinestro, Abin Sur, Tomar-Re, Kilowog. What the movie should be: In theory, we already have it.* Martin Campbell, who's responsible for the only decent Pierce Brosnan Bond movie, and the only awesome Daniel Craig Bond movie, is (hopefully) bringing us a story of drama and action on a cosmic scale that presents and begins to explore the deep mythology of the Green Lanterns. The film needs a headstrong main character who slowly begins to realize that his intense cockiness is a front for how scared he is, of everything, all the time (Reynolds can do that in spades), but as challenges are presented to him, his newfound confidence in himself and the Corps, as well as his innate sense of duty, loyalty, and perseverance, allow him to overcome fear and save the planet. I'm just sayin', if Blake Lively was my girlfriend, Earth would be the best protected sector in the history of the galaxy.
Yellow: Fear In blackest day, in brightest night, Beware your fears made into light Let those who try to stop what's right, Burn like his power... Sinestro's might!
The sworn enemies of the Green Lanterns, the Yellow Lanterns are the Sinestro Corps, lead by a former Green Lantern (spoiler for the new movie. His name is Sinestro. What I mean to say is, if you trust him, you're dumb). Notable Lanterns: Sinestro, The Anti-Monitor, Parallax, one of the Superboys. What the movie should be: First of all, it has to be written and directed by John Carpenter. One of the greatest horror directors of all time, Carpenter has an inherent understanding of the power of fear and how it can effect behavior and perception. Some of his later, underrated films, like In the Mouth of Madness, have been entirely about the power of fear and madness, and the way it can lead to a sort of intoxication. He would have to turn Sinestro into a sort of anti-hero, with a strong moral code. He's not a good guy, but the audience needs to be able to get behind him. Carpenter's done this a few times, kinda well, like when he created Snake fucking Plissken, or my favorite Carpenter anti-hero, Napoleon Wilson from Assault on Precinct 13. The flick would have to be some kind of action/horror movie hybrid: while we'd never be able to buy Sinestro as a hero, he'd have to remain a likable protagonist, like the late-period Freddy Kruger. One kid was the "hero" that got to momentarily defeat Kruger at the end of the movie, but the audience was really there to cheer for the bad guy and watch him kill obnoxious teenagers in cheesy ways.
Blue: Hope In fearful day, in raging night, With strong hearts full, our souls ignite, When all seems lost in the War of Light, Look to the stars-- For hope burns bright!
Formed by two banished Guardians on the planet Odym, the Blue Lanterns are more of a a support force for the Greenies, as hope isn't especially useful without the willpower to enact it. A Blue Lantern hanging around a Green boosts the Green's power, as the Green Lantern channels the wearer's optimism. It's pretty dumb. Notable Lanters: The Flash becomes a Blue Lantern for a while. Mostly the Blue power rings are held by guys who're already Green Lanterns. Kyle Rayner has had one, Hal Jordan has too. What the movie should be: How about a sequel to Green Lantern? It's a really easy way to continue riding the emotional powers as a theme that can resonate with a wide audience. Jordan has overcome his fear and saved the planet, but the great Green Lantern Sinestro has broken off and formed his own evil Corps, and with the Anti-Monitor's power at his side, the Yellow Corps seem unstoppable. Jordan has to undergo a new crisis of faith, and when he feels all hope is lost, the Blue Lanterns come along to re-invigorate him. No one tells a story of optimism lost and gained again, entirely without subtlely, like Sam Raimi, who's explored superheroes (Spiderman 2 is still the best superhero movie ever made), hope (For Love of the Game kinda works when you can't feel Kevin Costner's hands all over it), and people utterly without it (A Simple Plan, Drag me to Hell). The man was born to knock Part 2s out of the park, like the aforementioned Spidey, and the horror/comedy masterpiece sequel to Evil Dead, Evil Dead 2: Dead by Dawn.
Orange: Avarice They have an oath, but it hasn't been revealed yet, beyond "Mine!" Agent Orange, or Larfleeze, was a thief who ended up stealing a treasure map that led him straight to an Orange Lantern on the planet Okarra. He's the first Lantern to ever wield the orange power of greed, and for a long time, the only one (he obviously wanted to keep it all for himself), only forming a Corps to defend the planet when a group of Guardians came to take the power for themselves. Notable Lanterns: Larfleeze. Lex Luthor for 24 hours. What the movie should be: Larfleeze is a self-centered, greedy bonehead. He has to have an adventure that acknowledges that and allows him to grow without sacrificing those greedy parts of his core. Orange is also special because it draws and absorbs the energy of the other rings, 'cept for blue, 'cause hope is selfless. At one point Larfleeze manages to get a hold of a blue ring, and has a moment of respite from his greedy hunger. The orange ring also resurrects anyone the bearer kills, making them into an orange powered construct. So it's sorta a zombie maker. There's only one person who could handle the humor and honesty of telling a story about finding the balance between greed and hope (with zombies), and that's Edgar Wright. That kinda funny sincerity is the man's bread and butter. Plus, Larfleez wants STUFF, and no one can pack STUFF into a movie like Wright. Indigo: Compassion Tor lorek san, bor nakka mur, Natromo faan tornek wot ur. Ter Lantern ker lo Abin Sur, Taan lek lek nok -- Formorrow Sur! (no translation available)
Led by alien Indigo-1, the members of the Indigo tribe devote themselves entirely to spreading goodwill in the Universe. They rarely speak English. Notable Lanterns: Pretty much just Indigo-1. What the movie would be: There's really not much of a back story to this Corps, as they're fairly new, and most of their powers are drawn from using the powers of others: basically, they empathize with whatever emotion is being thrown at them. They would be best used as a side story to another Lantern movie, as I proposed with Blue. They could, for example, bring temperance to red, as part of their story, or supplement purple.
Purple: Love For hearts long lost and full of fright, For those alone in blackest night, Accept our ring and join our fight, Love conquers all -- with violet light!
Love is one of the most powerful emotions in the Lantern mythologies, so men are rarely considered strong to wield it. Also comic books are sexist. The women that form the Purple Corps, also know as the Star Sapphires (comic books are super sexist), live on the planet Zamaron, which was founded by a group of female Guardians that broke off from the Guardians of Oa. There was originally only one Star Sapphire, but the passionate nature of the purple force drove her crazy, and it was decided that it needed to be shared amongst a core to be safe. Notable Lanterns: Carol Ferris, Hal Jordan's girlfriend Carol Ferris, and Wonder Woman for a bit. Guy Gardner is the only dude to ever wear a Purple ring. The Green Lanterns probably gave him a ton of shit for that, calling him "Sapphire" long after it wasn't funny anymore. A lot of them seem like douchebags. What the movie would be: It seems easy to buy into the sexism here and say this is the best place for a female filmmaker, as though a female filmmaker wouldn't work for movies based on any of the other Corps. Kathryn Bigelow would be the easy choice, based on the fact that she's a woman, and she's had experience making movies about the military. In truth, she's probably a really good choice for Green Lantern 2. Mary Hardwicke would be my choice, as she managed to make three features that work really well as subversive pieces of feminist art, masquerading as revisionist genre pieces -- I Shot Andy Warhol, American Psycho, and The Notorious Bettie Page. Her eye for composition, geography, and sense of rhythm is so fine-tuned that the action would be more than decent, despite her lack of experience in that department, and it seems obvious that she would turn in a work that ends up being a story about the necessary bond of sisterhood that the women's movement has always used to push the anachronistic patriarchy forward, one step at a time. She'd present a strong, capable woman, dealing with the world's overwrought adoration of a mediocre superhero (the Green Lantern) and their hopelessness when he fails in some big mission and gets himself captured. She could be striving for identity in the face of this guy who has so much power he's completely unable to even recognize hers. So she becomes the Star Sapphire, and the next thing you know, she has the same problem. But unlike Hal, she understands the value of community, and the Star Sapphire Corps are born. Everyone learns lessons, even side character Hal, who now recognizes the privilege and biases of being born into a patriarchy. Especially a superpowered intergalactic one.
Red: Anger With blood and rage of crimson red, Ripped from a corpse so freshly dead, Together with our hellish hate, We'll burn you all -- That is your fate!
Anger, like love, is a strong, all-encompassing power. And the strongest form of anger is a desire for bloody vengeance. The Red Lanterns got that shit in spades, man. A former intergalactic terrorist, Atrocitus (with that name, his parents knew he was gonna be a star), declares war on the cop that arrested him, then-Green Lantern Sinestro. He gets so pissed sitting in his cell that a new Red Lantern is spontaneously created from his anger. He takes his newfound powers and traipses off through the galaxy with one goal in mind: Killing the now-evil Sinestro. Notable Lanterns: Atrocitus, Guy and Hal for a bit, Lobo, and former Green Lantern Laira. Really, anyone pissed at Sinestro. What the movie should be: The enemy of my enemy is my friend. It doesn't matter how pissed they are, they want Sinestro, and Sinestro is a dick, and that makes them good guys, using the power of anger to (sorta) make the universe better. Like the Hulk. Or Christian Bale. This is wild story of anger and revenge, and if you're looking for a revenge flick, no one does vengeance like a Korean filmmaker, specifically Jee-woon Kim, of the recent I Saw the Devil, or Chan-wook Park, of the "Vengence Trilogy," (these are the horrifying guys), or, my favorite (for the fun kind of revenge), Seung-wan Ryoo, director of City of Violence. Of modern Western filmmakers, no one seems to understand the power of anger like Danny Boyle, who's dealt with explosive outbursts of violence and madness in 28 Days Later, as well as desperation in a galactic setting with Sunshine. The only thing that can effectively fight anger is hope, and we've already decided that they'd best be folded into the next Green Lantern movie, which means that they would all have to meet up in:
White: Life/ Black: Death The Blackest Night falls from the skies, The darkness grows as all light dies, We crave your hearts and your demise, By my black hand, the dead shall rise!
In a moment of cataclysm, the Black Lanterns arise, led by Nekron, and declare war, killing heroes left and right, then resurrecting them as Black energy constructs. Notable Lanterns: Yeah. They kill heroes, then bring them back as Black Lanterns, so, Aquaman, Hawkman, Hawkgirl, Deadman, Tomar Re, Jade, Robin, Superman, Lois Lane, Abin Sur, Laira, The Blue Beetle, Superboy, Wonder Woman, the Green Arrow, Superboy, Zatara, Steel, Jonah Hex, and Batman. They even got fucking Batman. What the movie should be: The Green Lantern 3. Especially if we've set up all the other Corps. Because all the other colors working together form the only thing that can defeat the Black Lanterns.
Go see the Green Lantern this weekend. I hear it's not especially great (I'll be seeing it tomorrow), but hey, if it makes enough money (they always do), maybe we'll get that Kathryn Bigelow sequel that I, specifically, want.