Back Issues [Brightest Day]: Green Lantern #48-50


Although February 2014 was dubbed “Green Lantern Day” (because, by the American calendar, the date read as “2814”, the sector of space assigned to Earth in DC Comics), the significance of this date has passed as the years have changed. Instead, I’m choosing to celebrate the debut of perhaps the most popular iteration of the character, Hal Jordan, who first appeared in October of 1959.


Writer: Ron Marz – Artists: Bill Willingham, Fred Haynes, and Darryl Banks

Story Title: “Emerald Twilight, Part One: The Past”
Published: January 1994

Story Title: “Emerald Twilight, Part Two: The Present”
Published: February 1994

Story Title: “Emerald Twilight, Part Three: The Future”
Published: March 1994

The Background:
The character of Green Lantern, in the form of Alan Scott, first appeared in All-American Publications’ (a precursor of DC Comics) All-American Comics #16 in July 1940. In 1959, DC Comics editor Julius Schwartz enlisted writer John Broome and artist Gil Kane to reinvent the character as Hal Jordan and, in the process, created countless other Green Lanterns through the establishment of an intergalactic police force. Although Jordan became one of DC Comics’ most prominent superheroes, the company decided to make some major changes to the character in the mid-nineties, a period of time often referred to as the “Dark Age” of comics that saw stories such as “The Death of Superman” (Jurgens, et al, 1992 to 1993) make headline news and Bruce Wayne/Batman left crippled at the hands of a superhuman foe. Although Batman later recovered and Clark Kent/Superman soon returned to life, Hal Jordan’s home town of Coast City was destroyed during the Man of Steel’s resurrection, leaving Hal devastated and driving him to near madness in his attempt to rebuild his home. The story’s primary purpose was to depict Hal’s downfall into a maniacal, reality-destroying villain known as Parallax and to introduce a new, young, sexy Green Lantern (my favourite of the Emerald Warriors, Kyle Rayner). Eventually, of course, DC backpedalled on this decision and went out of their way to redeem the “greatest Green Lantern” but, for a while there, things were definitely exciting and different in DC Comics as they introduced new legacy characters and fundamentally altered their predecessors in startling ways.

The Review:
“Emerald Twilight” begins pretty much immediately after the conclusion of the “Return of Superman” story arc (Stern, et al, 1993) with an injured and emotionally shattered Hal Jordan kneeling amidst the still-smouldering crater that is all that remains of his hometown, Coast City. Burdened by his grief at arriving too late to stop Mongul and Hank Henshaw/Cyborg-Superman from obliterating the city, Hal uses the vast powers of his power ring to heal his broken arm and conjure a construct of his father, Martin, for a bit of a heart-to-heart. Primarily, Hal wants to address his resentment towards his late father for favouring his older, more successful brothers and never telling Hal that he was proud of him and all he had accomplished. However, as Martin is simply a manifestation of Hal’s memories of him, and his guilt and unresolved issues, Martin simply tells Hall that he just never measured up to his brothers, guilt-trips him for not being there for Coast City, and then forces Hal to relive the traumatic experience of watching him die in a plane crash. A construct of Hal’s mother, Jessica, then arrives to comfort her son, pointing out Martin’s many faults as a husband and a father and encouraging Hal to hold on to the happier memories and move on from the pain and loss. Despite her encouragement, however, Hal isn’t satisfied with just having memories; they’re not enough to quell his guilt or his anger or his pain and, in his vehement refusal to let go of his anguish, he focuses his willpower in a wholly selfish way.

Grief-stricken, his anguish turned to rage, Hal carves a path of destruction to confront the Guardians.

Hal uses his willpower to create a living, breathing, emerald-hued recreation of Coast City, including all of its buildings and inhabitants. The temptation to right those wrongs, to “be a God”, is overwhelming and even brings back a manifestation of his first love, Jennifer. Reminiscing about the past and what could have been between them, Hal laments how he screwed up his relationship with Jennifer even after she helped him through the trauma of his father’s death. Jennifer, however, assures Hal that she was happy after him, settled in Coast City, and that the end came quickly for her and the others; she also says that “nobody blames [Hal]” and that they’re just happy that he’s keeping their memories alive. Jennifer walks Hal to his childhood home, where he again meets the “ghost” of his father; Martin echoes Jennifer’s sentiments, stating that every appreciates that he’s “restored” Coast City, but falters when he is about to finally say the words Hal is longing to hear (that he’s proud of him) and promptly vanishes, along with the entire Coast City illusion, when Hal’s ring exhausts its charge. Hal’s anger and bitterness at being denied his desire, and the limits of his power ring, are soon interrupted when one of the Guardians of the Universe manifests before him. The Guardian reprimands Hal for using his power ring for personal gain and violating the rules and regulations of the Green Lantern Corps, and demands that he return to Oa for disciplinary action. Hal, however, lashes out in anger absorbs the residual energy from the Guardian’s projection to give himself a charge and, blasts off to Oa to confront his masters, appearing as little more than a green shooting star to lovers Kyle Rayner and Alex DeWitt. Overcome by his grief, and incensed at the losses and injustice he feels, Hal blasts his way through space and is met by opposition from his fellow Corpsmen, Ke’Haan of Varva and Laira of Jayd, two Lanterns who, while experienced, are no match for Hal’s experience and newfound rage.

Hal’s crusade sees him cutting down some of his most trusted comrades.

Furious at being used as a puppet by the Guardians for so long, Hal incapacitates the two and steals their power rings, leaving them for dead in the void of space and adding more power to his arsenal. While the Guardians of the Universe are concerned at Hal’s trail of destruction, they have faith that the entirety of their Corps, and their near-limitless power, will be enough to stop him; after all, he’s just one rogue Lantern, right? Well Tomar Tu learns the hard way that Hal is not so easily subdued; although he tries to shackle Hal using a parasite not unlike the Black Mercy creature, Hal’s willpower is so strong, and his rage so out of control, that he easily overpowers his former comrade and friend. Jack T. Chance meets a similar end as, while he is far more willing to fight dirty, his inexperience leaves him adrift in space like so many other Corpsmen. Hal is even forced to battle Boodikka, a warrior female he personally recruited into the Corps, but the loyalty of his brothers and sisters now sickens Hal and he’s so obsessed with making them pay for their hubris that he slices Boodikka’s hand off to claim her ring as his own. One by one, both on-panel and off, Hal bests the Guardian’s Lanterns and, with each victory, he becomes increasingly brutal. Upon reaching Oa, Hal is met by the Corps drill instructor, the surly Kilowog, easily the proudest and most loyal member of the Green Lantern Corps. However, while he lasts longer than any of the other Green Lanterns, Kilowog also falls before Hal’s newfound might and rage.

Sinestro is sent to stop Hal, leading to an epic clash between the two with their roles almost reversed.

Even the stoic Guardians, so self-righteous in their power and position, begin to fear Hal’s crusade and, in their desperation, turn to Ganthet’s final solution to Hal’s rampage: releasing the renegade Green Lantern, Thaal Sinestro, from his captivity within the Central Power Battery. And so it is that Hal is pitted against his former mentor, the very man who he stood up to when Sinestro perverted the power and privilege of the power ring for his own ends. The irony is not lost on Sinestro, who finds himself as the last hope of his former masters, beings he has almost as much reason to despise as Hal, and delights in Hal’s torment. Sinestro manages to goad Hal into relinquishing all of his stolen power rings and battling him on equal ground, something Hal is only too happy to agree to just so that Sinestro has no doubt that he was finally, truly, bested by his superior. Eager to have his revenge against Hal for having him imprisoned, Sinestro presses his attack but Hal matches him blow for blow, theorising that the Guardians must have lost their minds to turn to someone as vindictive as Sinestro and seeing his rival’s return as the final proof of the Guardians’ hypocrisy and fallibility. Sinestro taunts Hal by telling him that, years ago, the Guardians asked him, their greatest warrior, to mould Hal into his image but, despite being flattered by their trust, he never thought that Hal would be able to live up to those expectations. When they come to a penultimate clash, Sinestro is almost admiring of Hal’s newfound bloodlust, but maintains that the difference between the two has always been that Hal is unwilling to kill, whereas Sinestro is only held back from killing by the promise of his freedom to subdue Hal non-lethally.

Hal kills Sinestro, and the entire Corps, becoming Parallax and leaving Kyle as the sole Green Lantern.

Ultimately, their battle descends into a wild brawl; as the Guardians impassively watch on, Hal mercilessly beats Sinestro to a pulp. Hal claims victory, having finally bested his long-time rival with his bare hands, but Sinestro continues to taunt him, claiming that he has lost himself in his brutality. Hal’s response? To break Sinestro’s neck, finally killing him and crossing that forbidden line. His attempt to absorb the full power of the Central Power Battery is interrupted by Kilowog, who makes one last desperate plea for Hal to stop before he strips all of the Corpsmen of their powers and leaves them in mortal danger, but Hal simply cannot look past his grief, his pain, and his lust to obtain the power to correct those mistakes. In an instant, he reduces Kilowog to a charred skeleton, tearfully discards his power ring, and has one last heated confrontation with the Guardians before entering the Central Power Battery. As he absorbs the Central Power Battery into himself, the Guardians channel all of their remaining powers into one last power ring; Hal emerges, forever changed, crushing his power ring and fleeing to the stars to begin enacting his grand plan for the universe, and only Ganthet is left alive. He teleports to Earth and stumbles upon struggling artist Kyle Rayner, seemingly at random, and bequeaths him the last power ring, birthing an all-new Green Lantern, the last in the entire universe, in the process.

The Summary:
It’s definitely not recommended to go into “Emerald Twilight” without at least some understanding of Hal Jordan, or having read some of the “Return of Superman” arc, but it’s not absolutely necessary. The text boxes and dialogue help to bring you up to speed with how Hal got his power ring, his reputation, and how Coast City was destroyed, but it definitely adds even more emotional weight to the story if it’s not your first exposure to the character. Compared to “The Death of Superman” and “Knightfall” (Dixon, et al, 1993 to 1994), it’s also a much shorter and far more condensed story. Hal literally ploughs through seemingly the entire Green Lantern Corps (or most of them) off-panel or in a few panels in the middle chapter of the story, and much of Hal’s downfall is set up subtly in previous issues and stories rather than being this big, headline event. That’s not to say that “Emerald Twilight” didn’t shake things up, though, but it definitely acts as more of an epilogue to “The Return of Superman” rather than an event of equal proportions. I fully believe that, if this story was done today, it would probably be a six to twelve-issue miniseries that also included Hal fighting his Justice League teammates as well.

Hal wishes only to have what he has lost and is devastated when he is denied even that.

The more intimate nature of the story actually helps it to stand out in some ways, though. The focus here is on Hal’s grief and despair; he’s a man who has literally lost everything, his hometown and all his loved ones, and has been driven right to the edge and it all happened seemingly on a whim. There was no way he could have known what Mongul and Cyborg-Superman were planning, and he was in no position to stop them, so all he’s left with his survivor’s guilt coupled with his unresolved issues with his father. This is beautifully realised in Hal’s desperate attempts to hear his father say he’s proud of him, but being denied even that simple luxury because of his grief screwing with his constructs and the limitations of his power ring. Martin’s appearance here works doubly as a representation of Hal’s own insecurities; he can’t say he’s proud of Hal because Hal knows he would never say that, and even the small comforts brought by his mother and former lover offer Hal no peace or solace. The closest he comes to being happy is when he recreates Coast City; even though it’s clearly an illusion, a facsimile created by his ring, he’d much rather live in that fantasy world than have to endure with the painful and brutal reality that he’s lost everything.

Hal’s brutality forces the Guardians to release Sinestro, culminating in violent final confrontation.

Consequently, it’s entirely understandable that he lashes out at the Guardians when they come along to reprimand him. After giving his body and soul to the ideals of the Green Lantern Corps, he is denied having what he truly desires, and his grief turns to rage; this anger is directed purely at the hypocritical and self-righteous Guardians but also extends to the ideals Hal once embodied, meaning he has to fight off his own kind in order to confront his masters. Believed to be the greatest Green Lantern ever, Hal’s indomitable willpower is only augmented by his rage; this, coupled with his experience and the added power of more and more stolen power rings, make him a dangerous and formidable foe who threatens the lives of even the near-God-like Guardians. At first, Hal has no desire to fight his fellow Lanterns; he constantly rants about the Guardians’ manipulative and deceitful ways and tries to convince the others to side with him, but they’re as blinded by their loyalties as he is by his anguish and the result is a lot of Green Lanterns being left beaten, helpless, or maimed simply to fuel Hal’s newfound crusade. This culminates in easily the best part of the comic, beyond Hal’s descent into gibbering madness, the long-awaited final battle between Hal Jordan and Sinestro. This brutal fight is a fantastically realised clash that is just dripping with irony and fate. When he was just an upstart rookie, Hal saw that Sinestro was abusing his power and opposed him, forever tarnishing the reputation of the once-mightiest Green Lantern and, for years, the two were cast as moral and ethical opposites. Sinestro hungered for power and longed to rule through force and fear, and was more than willing to kill or maim those who opposed him, whereas Hal was the very embodiment of the righteous justice and heroism of the Green Lantern Corps. Now, the tables have turned; Hal is the rogue, power-mad Green Lantern and Sinestro is the last line of defence, and I find that so much more interesting than just watching Superman being beaten to death by a mindless monster. Even better is that Sinestro still underestimates Hal; he is arrogant in his belief that, despite Hal’s recent brush with darkness, he is still the same good-natured and moral individual deep down and therefore doesn’t have it within him to kill, and this proves to be Sinestro’s downfall.

“Emerald Twilight” changed Green Lantern’s status quo for a time and marked a turning point for DC.

Hal’s crossing of that line and descent into a tragic villain was so unexpected at the time. The state of DC Comics was radically upended in the early-to-mid-nineties and Hal’s transformation into the reality-warping Parallax soon became a big part of that as he sought to rewrite time itself in a desperate attempt to set right all the tragedies and mishaps that had befallen himself and his friends. Parallax was quite the intriguing villain in that he fully believed what he was doing was right, and for the greater good, and couldn’t understand why his friends kept opposing him as he had no wish to harm them. This also spelt the end for the Green Lantern Corps as we knew them…for a time. Kyle Rayner became the sole Green Lantern for a while, and was afforded slightly different abilities (he didn’t need to charge his ring and had no weakness to yellow) as well as a cool new costume, which really helped breath new life into the character and comic. DC never quite let Hal go, though, and soon enough they started to undo pretty much everything that had happened here: many of Hal’s victims were shown to have survived or were resurrected, Sinestro was revealed to have been a construct all along, and Hal both sacrificed himself to save the world and became the Spectre before being reborn, alongside the entire Green Lantern Corps, with all of his actions and time as Parallax revealed to have been due to the manipulations of a malevolent space bug. Yet, at the time, this was the status quo: The Green Lantern Corps were dead, Hal was a crazed lunatic, and we had a fun new Green Lantern, and it all kicked off here. It’s maybe not as long or as in-depth as other Dark Age tales from this time, but “Emerald Twilight” is still a significant chapter in the character’s life and well worth checking out if you fancy seeing a hero take a dramatic and tragic turn to the dark side.

My Rating:

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Great Stuff

Are you a fan of “Emerald Twilight”? If you read the story when it first published, what did you think to the dramatic change in Hal’s status quo and were you happy about it? Do you think that the story should have been expanded into a few more issues or did you prefer the more concise format? What did you think to Hal’s turn to the dark side? Do you think it was justified, and were you disappointed at how easily he dispatched the other Green Lanterns? What did you think to Hal’s turn as Parallax and were you a fan of Kyle Rayner? Did you enjoy the Dark Age of comics or were you happy to see the status quo restored? Which Green Lantern character, villain, or story is your favourite and why? How are you celebrating this pseudo-Green Lantern day today? Whatever you think about “Emerald Twilight”, and Green Lantern in general, sign up to leave your thoughts below or drop a comment on my social media.

Talking Movies [Brightest Day]: Green Lantern: Extended Cut


In 2014, the 2nd of February was dubbed “Green Lantern Day” because, by the American calendar, the date read as “2814”, the sector of space assigned to Earth in DC Comics. While the significance of this date has passed as the years have changed, it seems like a great excuse to celebrate DC Comics’ green-garbed intergalactic police corps but, sadly, the date clashes with another important anniversary so, this year, I’m switching it to today, the 2nd of August, instead since this would have been 2/8/14 back then as well.


Talking Movies

Released: 14 October 2011
Originally Released: 17 June 2011
Director: Martin Campbell
Distributor: Warner Bros. Pictures
Budget: $200 million
Stars: Ryan Reynolds, Blake Lively, Mark Strong, Peter Sarsgaard, and Clancy Brown

The Plot:
When test pilot Hal Jordan (Reynolds) is bequeathed a powerful ring that can make his thoughts reality, he becomes a member of the Green Lantern Corps, a vast organisation of intergalactic lawmen. However, Hal’s will is tested when Parallax (Brown), a malevolent entity and the embodiment of fear, is awakened and threatens the safety of not just Earth but the entire universe!

The Background:
The Green Lantern character first appeared in All-American Publications’ (a precursor of DC Comics) All-American Comics #16 in July 1940. Then, the pseudonym was the alter-ego of Alan Scott but, in 1959, DC Comics editor Julius Schwartz enlisted writer John Broome and artist Gil Kane to reinvent the character as Hal Jordan and, in the process, create countless other Green Lanterns in the establishment of an intergalactic police force. Production of a live-action adaptation of the character can be traced back to 1997 and, at one point, Jack Black was set to start in what sounds like would have been an absolutely dreadful action/comedy take on the character.

Green Lantern hasn’t had the best history when it comes to live-action adaptations…

With the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) impressing at the box office with its first phase of movies, Warner Bros. made significant strides towards a Green Lantern film with a script heavily influenced by the seminal “Secret Origin” (Johns, et al, 2008) story arc, and director Martin Campbell and star Ryan Reynolds locked in to bring to life the daunting, effects-heavy superhero sci-fi. Unfortunately, Green Lantern proved to be a critical and commercial failure; the movie made just under $220 million at the box office and reviews were scathing, scuppering Warner’s hopes for a sequel and delaying the start of their own cinematic universe. As much as I am a fan of Reynolds, I can’t say that I was too impressed with how much he has bad-mouthed this film (which really isn’t as bad as people think) in the years since its release, especially after he was well into honouring the legacy and influence of the role during production.

The Review:
When we’re first introduced to Hal in the modern day, he’s a far cry from the straight-laced, serious space cop of the comic books; perhaps thanks to having Reynolds in the role, Hal is a womanising, snarky, and arrogant test pilot who drives a muscle car, frequently shows up late to work, and generally shirks responsibility at every opportunity. The only time he takes any situation serious is when he’s sat in a cockpit, where he’s all business and undeniably the best test pilot on the Ferris payroll but his attitude leaves a lot to be desired. It’s interesting that the filmmakers chose to make these changes and portray Hal as a far more immature and flawed character; it works for his overall story arc as he has to grow into his role as a superhero and learn the usual, cliché lessons about responsibility and duty and gives Hal a snarky edge that makes for the film’s more comedic moments but it’s difficult to believe that this version of Hall will ever grow into the Corps’ most revered soldier.

Hal’s cavalier attitude makes him a great test pilot but causes friction with those around him.

Hal’s attitude stems, largely, from the trauma of experiencing the death of his father, Martin (Jon Tenney), who died during a test flight right before Hal’s eyes when Hal was just a kid. Having witnessed the most distressing and harrowing event possible, Hal has grown up entirely fearless; he never worries about his safety, takes unnecessary risks, doesn’t let anything or anyone get to him, and doesn’t believe in a no-win situation. This, naturally, doesn’t sit well with his friends, family, co-workers, or superiors, who all believe that Hal has a death wish and is being unreasonably irresponsible with his life. Despite this, he has a close relationship with his nephew, Jason (Dylan James), and there are clearly unresolved issues between him and childhood friend, co-pilot, and boss Carol Ferris (Lively).

Carol believes in and is attracted to Hal but cannot sanction his lackadaisical attitude.

Hal believes that Carol has lost her way somewhat since she has, largely, traded the cockpit for a desk, though Carol asserts that she’s simply grown up and accepted her responsibilities. She cares for Hal and is clearly still attracted to him but despairs of his lackadaisical and cavalier attitude; she just wants him to grow up a bit and to be responsible for once in his life rather than coasting along on his admittedly impressive abilities. In a refreshing change of pace, she immediately sees through his rudimentary disguise as Green Lantern (even comment on the ridiculousness of such an ineffective mask) and accepts and supports his newfound superhero life. Indeed, she urges him that the power and responsibility of the ring isn’t something that he can just walk away from and encourages him to actually try and live up to his potential for a change. Far more than just an achingly gorgeous face, Carol actually helps Hal out when Parallax comes to Earth and isn’t afraid to speak her mind, making her more than a match for his trademark snark.

Hal is subjected to harsh training and criticism from the likes of Sinestro.

However, while Hal describes himself as a “screw up” and even his friend, Thomas Kalmaku (Taika Waititi) believes him to be an asshole, he doesn’t hesitate to pull Abin Sur (Temuera Morrison) from his crashed spacecraft, does everything he can to keep him alive, and is genuinely distraught when Abin dies in his arms (he even takes the time to bury Abin’s body after he dies). Confused and overwhelmed at the alien and the strange ring now in his possession, Hal is equally blown away when the ring transports him to Oa and garbs him in the uniform of the Green Lantern Corps; however, Hal adjusts to these alien sights and concepts with an awe-struck bewilderment and struggles to come to grips with his ring’s capabilities and the focusing of his willpower. On Oa, Hal is greeted by Tomar-Re (Geoffrey Rush), who introduces him to the planet and briefs him on the basics of the Green Lantern Corps. Hal’s training is very much a crash course and, honestly, should have taken up a greater deal of the film’s focus and screen time as Hal is put through a tough and uncompromising boot camp at the hands of Kilowog (Michael Clarke Duncan). Almost immediately, before Hal even has a chance to master the basics of ring-slinging, Thaal Sinestro (Strong) interrupts to put Hal through his paces; a being of immense pride and a much-respected member of the Corps, Sinestro was Abin’s friend and former protégé and regards Hal as a disappointment to his mentor’s legacy. Sinestro’s opinion is only fuelled by the fact that Hal is (somehow…) the first ever human being to become a Green Lantern but, truthfully, his focus and mentality comes more from his overwhelming militant mindset. Sinestro believes, to his very core, in the power and authority of the Guardians and the Corps and devotes himself entirely to their cause, rallying his fellow Green Lanterns in a unified, if futile, effort to oppose Parallax and maintain the sanctity of their intergalactic police force.

Hector, already a troubled scientist, is driven to maniacal insanity by Parallax’s influence.

As if that wasn’t bad enough, Hal also faces significant threats at home in the form of his childhood friend Doctor Hector Hammond (Sarsgaard); sadly, Hector isn’t that threatening or impressive as a villain and is more like a quirky, disassociated, unhinged child in a man’s body. Hector resents Hal’s cocky attitude, rugged good looks, and relationship with Carol, harbours unrequited feelings of his own for Carol, and is constantly trying to please his father, Robert (Tim Robbins), a United States senator who Hector feels is constantly disappointed and embarrassed by him. Hector believes his genius and ability are finally being acknowledged when he is hand-picked by Doctor Amanda Waller (Angela Bassett) to perform the autopsy on Abin’s body and is enraged when he finds out that his father arranged it; having been possessed by exposure to Parallax’s yellow fear energy, Hammond slowly develops mental abilities and degenerates into a hideous, hunchback like creature, his inner bitterness and ugliness reflected in his warped and transformed exterior. However, given the larger threat of Parallax and the fact that we briefly see how big and limitless the universe is, Hector isn’t much of a threat and is easily bested by Hal with the simplest of deceptions.

Rather than a giant space bug, Parallax is a massive, fear-inducing cloud.

Not that Parallax himself fairs much better; rather than the giant, intergalactic space bug and the embodiment of fear, Parallax is, instead, a fallen Guardian as the filmmakers merged elements of Parallax and the dark Guardian Krona (which, to be fair, I feel does work in the context of the film and simplifies the story somewhat). Sadly, because the Guardians look so damn goofy, Parallax doesn’t look all that intimidating and just appears to be a big, angry-looking, cartoony head and that’s when we can actually see him since, for the most part, he takes the form of an ethereal, destructive cloud and, if there’s anything experience has told us, it’s that clouds are never scary or intimidating.

The Nitty-Gritty:
The extended version of the film only adds about ten minutes to the film’s run time but the majority of this is used to further develop Hal’s childhood and his relationship with his friends and family. Indeed, the extended version includes an entirely new opening sequence that shows more of Hal, Carol, and Hector’s childhood and the bond between Hal and his father, and his nephew. It’s not much extra footage but it does help to flesh Hal’s character out a little bit more and to build up an understanding of why he is the way he is.

Green Lantern‘s abundance of CGI makes the film resemble a cartoon more often than not.

Of course, one of the major problems with Green Lantern is the quality of the special effects; given the concept is quite unique and necessitates a great deal of work to render not just the Green Lantern’s constructs but also the various worlds and aliens that make up the Green Lantern Corps, and the universe, a great deal of special effects are necessary for a film such as this. Unfortunately, many of the film’s CGI just doesn’t work and is flawed; Parallax and the Guardians, especially, look pretty terrible, to say nothing of Kilowog, Tomar-Re, and, yes, the Green Lantern suits themselves. Personally, I think the idea to render them full in CGI was a really good idea (…on paper) given their otherworldly make up and the fact that they’re generated from the ring and the problem isn’t so much that the suits don’t look good (though they, like a lot of the CGI, do appear disturbingly cartoony) it’s that Hal’s mask looks so damn goofy.

It’s a shame the film didn’t employ a greater use of practical and traditional special effects.

This is a shame because Green Lantern does a pretty decent job at adapting the concept and bringing to life such an abstract and near-limitless superhero. As I mentioned, the idea of the suit works really well and Oa, especially, looks pretty good; however, while I like that it’s teeming with life and various alien races, it’s very…busy and kind of looks like a mess of conflicting colours and dodgy CGI. Such shots are contrasted by how good the film’s more practical effects are; the scene where Hal and Carol out-pace automated aircraft is an exhilarating sequence and the make-up effects used to bring Sinestro and Abin Sur to life are top-notch (hell, even Hector looks suitably horrific when he mutates into little more than a hunchbacked man-monster). It’s almost as if the filmmakers should have veered more towards practical effects, maybe even employing the use of traditional puppets and animatronics for the Guardians and Kilowog, and use the CGI sparingly rather than rendering 90% of the film in a mess of computer effects.

Hal eventually comes to accept the responsibility of the ring and grows into his heroic role.

A central theme of the film is Hal’s inability to live up to the expectations placed upon him and to accept responsibility. On Earth, this makes him a highly skilled but unreliable test pilot; when on Oa, it leads to him walking away from the Green Lantern Corps after what feels like maybe an hour, tops, of training. He takes Sinestro’s criticisms regarding him (and the human race) to heart and uses his condemnation as the perfect excuse to reject the destiny placed upon him by Abin Sur; however, for some reason, he is allowed to retain possession of the ring and, reluctantly, becomes a superhero back on Earth. This is directly paralleled with Hector’s own arc as he struggles to live up to his father’s expectations and gives in to the hate, fear, and power of Parallax’s influence; fuelled by his negative emotions, he forces Hal into acting with the ring’s power and, thus, into a heroic role that he, eventually, willingly assumes in order to defend the Earth from Parallax.

Despite Hal’s victory, Sinestro switches to the yellow ring for an unresolved cliffhanger.

Parallax, while an unimposing and disappointing villain compared to both his comic book counterpart and other villains of superhero films, is certainly built up to be an intimidating threat. His ability to induce fear and then suck the life out of his victims is certainly unique and his power only grows as he absorbs the lifeforce of others. While the Green Lanterns are notoriously supposed to be entirely without fear, it’s clear that the Guardians fear Parallax’s power; indeed, they are reluctant to send their corps against Parallax out of fear for their lives and they only divulge Parallax’s true origins to Sinestro after he pleads with them for the knowledge to oppose his power. While Sinestro comes to believe that the only way to defeat Parallax is with fear itself (forging a yellow ring in the process), he eventually saves Hal after his battle and defeat of the creature in the finale and, despite having witnessed that the green light of willpower is powerful enough to overcome even the embodiment of fear, decides to switch to a yellow power ring in, perhaps, one of the most tantalising mid-credits scenes in all of cinema.

The Summary:
Green Lantern is a perfectly fine and action-packed science-fiction spectacle; it’s full of humour and big special effects and has a really strong cast, with Mark Strong, especially, standing out as a perfect choice for Hal’s mentor and rival, Sinestro. I think the main problem with Green Lantern, though, is that it isn’t really sure what it wants to be; it’s not a sci-fi epic as a disappointing amount of the film is set on Earth, and the time spent on Earth is nowhere near as interesting as the potential of space and the Green Lantern Corps. When I saw Green Lantern, it was a month or so after seeing Thor (Branagh, 2011), a film that did a much better job of balancing its cosmic, otherworldly elements in a grounded and relatable way and I think that’s the problem with Green Lantern: it’s too confused about its disparate elements and I can’t help but feel a more elaborate approach in the vein of Guardians of the Galaxy (Gunn, 2014) and Serenity (Whedon, 2005) would be a far more fitting direction if we ever see the Green Lantern Corps in live-action again. Personally, though, it’s not as bad as people make it out to be and there’s plenty here that’s worth keeping around (Mark Strong, for one) and it really wouldn’t have taken much to fold this film into the existing DC Extended Universe at one point but, ultimately, it’s just a shame that we never got a sequel to improve upon the film’s high (and low) points and that the film failed to properly live up to the potential of the concept.

My Rating:

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Pretty Good

What did you think to Green Lantern? Were you a fan of the movie when it first released or did you warm to it over time? What did you think to Reynolds in the title role and who would you prefer to see take up the mantle at some point? Were you a fan of the film’s overuse of CGI? What did you think to the animated suit and depiction of Parallax? Would you have liked to see where a sequel would have taken the story or do you think a full reboot is the way to go? Which Green Lantern character, villain, or story is your favourite and why? How are you celebrating this pseudo-Green Lantern day today? Whatever you think about Green Lantern, and the Green Lantern comics books, feel free to leave a comment below.