The True Beauty of 2011’s ‘Green Lantern’
Green Lantern is a movie that automatically leaves a bad taste in your mouth or causes you to have a flashback to a terribly uncomfortable event whenever it is mentioned. Since it’s release up until now, it is always hailed as one of the worst comicbook films to have ever been made in some circles. Rarely will you see someone stand up in its defense, and when they do, it’s normally because they truly love the character of Hal Jordan to his core. Sadly, a majority of people who saw the film weren’t diehard fans of the comicbook character, as most had only known about his presence for the few months leading up until the planned release date. One of the fortunate things regarding the movie is that it has several redeeming qualities when you sit down and peel back the onion. At face value, Green Lantern is yet another attempt by a billion dollar studio to cash in on the superhero craze currently happening, but deep down it tells a far more interesting and, dare I say, compelling story of true heroism.
Green Lantern introduces us too cocky test pilot Hal Jordan as he is involved in a test flight that gets his wingman Carol Ferris nearly killed when he uses her as a decoy against “enemy” aircraft. This scene not only introduced us to Hal but sets him up as a selfish jag that nearly got someone killed because of his antics. The movie more or less presents this character to us that A). wouldn’t even pop into our head’s when we think of true heroism, and B). seems like an overall worthless human being. As the film continues, we then meet Hal’s nephew and brother, as the latter is disappointed and upset with Hal regarding his crazed antics, especially considering that Hal’s nephew looks up to him. This too adds to the tom-foolery of the main character as we now realize that not only is a selfish jerk, but he also has someone that looks up to him, even though they don’t know how he truly acts. That’s why when he puts in work further on in the movie to become a true hero, it’s worth it. Unlike some superhero films, he isn’t handed his powers and then automatically a good person, nor is he a good person to begin with. This guy is “that guy”. The guy who is somehow always in your group of friends whenever you go out, even though he makes everyone uncomfortable. That guy at the bar that thinks because he’s somewhat attractive and has a decent income he can sleep with whoever he talks to. That guy that spends a little too much time getting ready before he goes to the grocery store. Hal manages to go from that to the guy you’d trust with your lock-screen password or the guy that has a spare key to your house.
And that’s what the heart of the movie is, the fact that Hal Jordan truly earns his stripes. He progresses in his arc from a fringe bad person to a wholehearted good one. But Hal and the movie are only as good as the supporting characters given them. While this movie is through and through a Green Lantern/Hal Jordan film, he isn’t the only one who shines. Take for example Abin Sur, a character that has at best 10 minutes of screentime. His inclusion in the film is one of the domino’s that gets Hal from the “zero to hero” status. When Abin Sur crashes his ship and has Hal brought to him, Hal automatically goes into “this guy looks like he needs to help, let me help him” mode. It is a complete 180 from the selfish person we saw earlier, as here Hal is actually looking out for another living thing that isn’t him. And the brief exchange that Abin Sur has with Hal is a rather upsetting one, not only considering Abin died from the one thing he feared (more on that later) and his life would soon end, but he wasn’t surrounded by his fellow corps members or even someone he cared about. He had to spend his last few seconds left alive in the arms of Hal Jordan, a man who, until this point, was a terrible person. Abin Sur’s entry and exit into Jordan’s life had a major impact on how the latter would evolve.
Sinestro is another character that helps Hal truly become a Green Lantern. When Hal and Sinestro first meet, Sinestro is immediately set in his ways that Hal won’t be a good lantern like his predecessor and that he’ll inevitably crack under the pressure fear. Sinestro thinks Hal is unworthy of such a powerful weapon and demonstrates this by getting into a sparring match with him, which ends in Hal leaving Oa and “quitting” the Corps. But that wasn’t the end of it because as the film progresses Hal actually takes to heart the things Sinestro told him and looks deep within himself to the point that he changes his ways. Hal even returns to Oa and asks Sinestro and others for their help in defeating Parallax, the film’s big bad guy. Sinestro treating Hal like a red-headed step-child, in the beginning, helped him to let himself be a part of something far larger than himself. Sinestro only looked down on Hal because he wanted the best out of him, which isn’t such a terrible thing considering that they would need to rely on each other. And when you consider that Hal wore the ring of Sinestro’s close friend Abin Sur and that Abin had let his fear get the best of him as shown by him flying a ship to escape Parallax instead of using his ring for that, Sinestro just didn’t want to lose another soldier. Sinestro cared about everyone in the Corps, including Hal.
Yes, 2011’s Green Lantern is a very good film that isn’t a page-to-page adaptation, but it does treat its characters like living things that would act the way they act. The movie has a lead that gives it weight and supporting figures that help him carry that weight.
Heck, the last major line of dialogue that is had in the film is what brings the film’s true purpose full circle: being a part of a larger cause.
“Though his time wearing the ring has been brief, Hal Jordan’s defeat of Parallax will be remembered as long as the Corps exists. His actions are a reminder of why the ring chose each of us, to overcome fear and destroy evil wherever it may hide. As Lanterns, we must fight with all our will. Our wills have not always been united. It’s time they were.”