The Herald Bulletin

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Movies

June 16, 2011

Heather Bremer: 'Green Latern' endured many blackest nights to make big screen

— The path to bringing the Green Lantern Corps to the big screen has been one long and twisted road.

As early as 1997, Warner Bros. was contemplating a Green Lantern film and asked director Kevin Smith, fresh off “Chasing Amy,” to take a stab at a script. He told them there were better people for the job.

In 2000, comic book scribe Geoff Johns tried to get a movie off the ground. But the studio wanted a Green Lantern without the power ring. A completely discouraged Johns said, “No, thanks.”

Then came the “blackest night” in comic book movie history. In 2006, Robert Smigel offered WB a comedy-adventure script that envisioned Jack Black as the Green Lantern. Fans of the DC Comics hero revolted, plastering their venom on every movie message board on the Web. Hal Jordan, a test pilot before he was the universe’s greatest protector, played by an overweight, unkempt clown in an action comedy? How dare the studio even entertain such an idea that so disrespected the Corps!

Fortunately, WB and DC nixed the project before their offices were stormed by lantern-wielding fans.

After the Jack Black debacle, Warner Bros. turned to “300” director Zack Snyder. But Snyder was too deeply involved in bringing “Watchmen” to the screen to accept. (Though last year, he did take on the studio’s next Superman project, “Man of Steel,” set for a 2012 release.)

With Warner Bros. desperate to get the film made, the writing and directing reins fell to Greg Berlanti, widely known as a TV producer who’d worked on “Brothers & Sisters,” “Everwood” and “Eli Stone.” He later stepped down over creative differences.

In 2009, Green Lantern fans rejoiced when it appeared Warner Bros. had finally found their man. The studio tapped Martin Campbell, who successfully revived the James Bond franchise in “Casino Royale,” to helm the film. Johns, who revived Green Lantern in the comics in 2004, was hired as a creative consultant, and Berlanti held onto producer and writing credits.

With a director on board, it was time for Warner Bros. and DC to pick their Hal Jordan. There were a lot of contenders — Sam Worthington, Chris Pine, Bradley Cooper, Justin Timberlake, Jared Leto. Fans started a campaign to get Nathan Fillion of “Firefly” the job.

But, to skeptical fanfare, Warner Bros. opted for Ryan Reynolds, who had long been considered the perfect pick to play another DC hero. Reynolds’ down-to-earth spunk made him perfect for the Flash. But did he really have the range to pull off the brave and bold Hal Jordan?

That question and more will be answered with the film’s debut today.

Unfortunately, early reviews are confirming fans’ biggest fears and painting “Green Lantern” as the ultimate letdown. The film currently holds a 27 percent Fresh rating at RottenTomatoes.com, which isn’t very fresh at all. (“Mr. Popper’s Penguins” is at 50 percent, and that movie looks awful.)

It will be a shame for “Green Lantern” to trip at the finish line after all the hurdles the hero has cleared to make it the big screen.

But really, it won’t be surprising. Disappointing ... but not surprising.

“Green Lantern” has a run time of 105 minutes and is rated PG-13. Enjoy the show.

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