Thursday, March 5, 2009

The new Green Lantern:First Flight movie -- ANOTHER "origins" story?

The very first all-Green Lantern full-length animated film, Green Lantern: First Flight, is set to be released direct-to-video on July 28, 2009. The main character in this case is Hal Jordan, and the film also features Sinestro, Kilowog and Boodika in prominent roles. The official Web site can be visited HERE.

Hal Jordan is my favorite Green Lantern, so you’d think I’d be VERY excited about this movie.

Believe it or not, I’m only mildly interested in it. Here’s why:

In the promotional material, Bruce Timm says, “... the biggest challenge we have is to not repeat things we’ve done before.”

Fair enough. Now let’s look at a description of the movie’s plot. Per more promotional material:

“Green Lantern: First Flight finds Hal Jordan recruited to join the Green Lantern Corps and placed under the supervision of respected senior Lantern Sinestro. The earthling soon discovers his mentor is actually the central figure in a secret conspiracy that threatens the philosophies, traditions and hierarchy of the entire Green Lantern Corps. Hal must quickly hone his newfound powers and combat the treasonous Lanterns within the ranks to maintain order in the universe.”

What, AGAIN?

Didn’t we just get an interpretation of Hal’s origin story in the film Justice League: The New Frontier? Didn’t we just get an interpretation of Sinestro’s treachery and downfall in Batman: The Brave and the Bold? Not to mention the fact that comic book readers have been getting hit over the head with Hal, Sinestro, and general Green Lantern origin, conspiracy, and treason stories for several years now?

Now, Bruce Timm can helm an animated super-hero yarn like no one else, and I do have faith that he and his team will put an interesting spin on these already-familiar Green Lantern themes. But, for crying out loud, do film viewers ALWAYS have to be smacked over the head with origin stories?

Yes, origin stories are very important in super-hero lore (would Batman be the same if he’d just been a regular kid with no trauma in his past? Oh HELL no!).

But, be honest -- How many of you super-hero readers out there actually discovered your favorite heroes (or villains) through their ORIGIN stories? I’m betting you’re like me -- you picked up a comic and saw a character that you immediately thought was very interesting, and then you started collecting comics to find out more about that character.

I swear, as a kid, I read Green Lantern/Green Arrow comics for nearly three years before I knew ANYONE’s origin story. I just didn’t care. I was excited when I found out Hal had been a test pilot -- but to me, as a kid, it wasn’t as important as who Hal was (and what he did) as a super-hero. Let's face it -- with very rare exceptions, a super-hero's (or even a villain's) origin story is never as interesting as the stories about his or her struggles with an opponent.

(Which Batman movie is more interesting to most viewers: Batman Begins or The Dark Knight? Most people will say The Dark Knight. Do we get the Joker's origin story in The Dark Knight? NO. Do we need it? NO.)

Whatever happened to just giving filmgoers a nice summary of a character’s origin before launching into the TRULY interesting stuff?

"Yes, it's Superman--strange visitor from another planet who came to Earth with powers and abilities far beyond those of mortal men. Superman--defender of law and order, champion of equal rights, valiant, courageous fighter against the forces of hate and prejudice, who, disguised as Clark Kent, mild-mannered reporter for a great metropolitan newspaper, fights a never-ending battle for truth, justice and the American way."

That was all people listening to the radio, or watching movie serials, or watching the TV show needed to know about Superman for YEARS. No one needed a big, long explanation of Superman’s origin story. Really, all people need is a brief summary before the film moves on to the REAL action.

(When did audiences get the origin story of Indiana Jones? Not until the third movie, folks. Did we care? NO.)

I still think the best Green Lantern appearance on film, to date, is in the TV animated series, Duck Dodgers, with Daffy Duck. In the "Green Loontern" episode, Porky Pig gives a VERY hurried and short explanation of the Green Lantern Corps and what it does, and that's all that's needed. The rest of the episode consists of Daffy and the Corps fighting against Sinestro (in a comedic sense, of course). It's well done, and it's FUN. Hal gets a minor speaking role, but there’s no explanation of who he is. All viewers know is that Daffy has somehow gotten a hold of Hal’s suit and ring, and that's the only explanation needed.

When Hal showed up on The Batman animated series, in the episode "Ring Toss," viewers weren't told his origin, or even much about the Corps. Heck, I don't think viewers were ever even told Hal's NAME. There was a big, exciting fight with the Penguin and Sinestro, period. A very fun, well-done episode, and proof that long-winded origin stories (or even explanations) are not necessary.

Instead of Hal's or Sinestro's origin story, I’d love, instead, to see an animated retelling of Emerald Twilight, or Rebirth, or the Sinestro Corps War -- and what I wouldn't give to see a Hard-Traveling Heroes movie! I mean, who is buying most of these direct-to-video movies, anyway? It’s US -- the people who actually READ the comics. We don’t need backstory. We didn’t need it for the Superman: Doomsday movie, did we? And how many people saw Spider-Man II without seeing the FIRST Spider-Man movie -- you know, the one that had his origin? I don’t know about you, but I’ve met a LOT of people who saw (and enjoyed) only the second movie and didn't feel like they missed out on anything by not seeing the first.

Oh, well. Like I stated earlier, I have faith that Bruce Timm and his team will put an interesting spin on the plot of Green Lantern: First Flight. I just wish that, right out of the starting gate, it didn’t sound like they’ve just rehashed the same old Green Lantern tale.


TF said...

This creature is not evil!

perhaps very stupid...

but not evil!

By gum, I love Daffy Duck.

Saranga said...

Katma TWO-EE? I always read it as Katma Twee. Oops.

snell said...

Greenie--Seconded, and ditto on the superhero movie series that feel they always have to start off with the heroes' biggest villains/plots. So then we get the origin, the villains' origin, and their great conflict all jammed into too small a package in the name of fan service. I'm looking at you, Daredevil...did we really need to do DD's origin, and Kingpin, and Bullseye, AND Elektra? Really? Because we can condense down years and years of stories into one 90 minute movie, no problem...

SallyP said...

You're absolutely right of course. A whole heck of a lot of comics began with the character, and didn't get around to doing an in-depth origin story for YEARS in some cases. I actually prefer it that way, fall in love with the character, and THEN see the origin, so that it all starts to make sense as to why the character has those particular quirks.

STARTING with the origin takes a bit of the fun out of it. Oh well...I suppose their reasoning, is to get the origin out of the way and THEN start with the really good stories. Like the ones with Guy in them.

Sea_of_Green said...

Oh, wouldn't a movie version of "Green Lantern: Pink Elephants" be an absolute hoot? And they could make it PG-13, no problem! ;-)