Green Lantern: The Comic Books vs. The Movie

Published 4 years ago by , Updated February 10th, 2012 at 8:03 am,

The Green Lantern Corps Green Lantern: The Comic Books vs. The Movie

Summation: As an avid fan of both comic books and film, I operate under the firm belief that the quality of a comic book adaptation has nothing to do with the accuracy with which it was adapted. To me, Batman Returns is a prime example of a fantastic film experience that’s nothing like the comic book version of Batman. Basically, it’s a really disturbing fever dream from the creatively depraved mind of Tim Burton, with a ghastly gorgeous aesthetic and some of the darkest, weirdest, and wackiest fairy tale characters to ever grace the silver screen … guest-starring Batman. And that’s all it’s trying to be.

The point being: if a film is good, it’s good. If it stands on its own, it stands on its own. The quality of the film is not dependent upon whether or not the filmmakers met one fan’s preconceived notions based on the source material.

That said, Green Lantern is a film that actually tries to be accurate to the source material. But whereas something like Watchmen – which, in full disclosure, I also didn’t like – actually worked hard to develop those comic book elements onscreen, Green Lantern doesn’t work very hard to do anything. It just wants to make everything easier for the audience to understand and quicker for them to digest. The things it does change or streamline are almost always less effective or interesting than they were in the books.

Warner Bros. could’ve gone completely off the rails with their Green Lantern film and I would’ve been ecstatic, provided that they had done so successfully. Instead, they lazily tried to adapt Green Lantern: Secret Origin and failed to the extreme. Better luck next time, I guess. Here’s hoping they go the semi-reboot route for the sequel a la The Incredible Hulk and make a buddy cop film in space called Green Lantern Corps.


Overall Score: The Comic Books = 7.5; The Movie = 0.5

green lantern comic books versus movie final tally Green Lantern: The Comic Books vs. The Movie


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  1. I’m really surprised that this movie is getting a lot of defense from the fans. I saw it yesterday and was not exactly blown away by it…

    It was severely lacking in character development and I attribute this to its length. The movie wasn’t even 2 hours long. Because of this, the movie felt rushed. The training montage was particularly confusing. It was like a 5 minute sequence about the whole point of the movie (Hal becoming a Green Lantern) and after his gets his butt kicked a couple times, he stomps away like a 5 year old who had his Gameboy taken away. Then he just all of a sudden out of the blue decides that he does want to be a Green Lantern. What triggered that? I was waiting for an arch and I didn’t see one. There wasn’t a moment where he realized that this was his destiny. If there was, it wasn’t stressed enough.

    And I’m sorry, the handling of the villains SUCKED. If you’re going to sell the audience bad guys, you need to show them WHY they’re bad guys so we have some reason to hate them. Parallex’s motives were never explained. He was just this giant alien cloud thing with fear energy. WHY was he doing what he was doing? I know Sinestro said that Parallex destroyed two civilizations, but we never actually SAW this, which makes it hard for a generally audience to really get it. It was no different than the hacked treatment of Anakin and Obi-Wan’s friendship in the Star Wars prequels. In each movie, they mentioned something and about some incident that happened a while ago and we’re supposed to assume that they’re life long friends because that’s what it says. It doesn’t always work that way. We need to SEE the villain doing something evil (more than just killing a few people on Earth). The Empire used the Death Star to blow up a planet without thinking twice about it. I want that cold-heartedness in my movie villains.

    And what was the deal with Hector Hammond? He never did anything, he was just THERE. He got infected with fear energy and that was it. His psychic powers were cool, but there was never a time when I felt he was this menace that needs to be stopped. He had no plan to bring the city to ruins. Again, this wasn’t like the Joker in The Dark Knight trying to consume Gotham with chaos or the Nazis in Raiders of the Lost Ark trying to get the Ark to harness its power. If you’re trying to make a good vs. evil movie, then you really need to have the bad guys do something interesting. Maybe you make them a complex villain that you can actually rationalize and sympathize with. Maybe you make him a cold-blooded murderer a la Arnold’s Terminator. But you DO NOT just have him sit there and do absolutely nothing. What was Hammond’s main problem? Blake Lively isn’t sleeping with him. She’s not sleeping with me but that doesn’t mean I can become some hackneyed super villain or whatever his issue was… this article hit it dead on when they criticized the bad guys for not being “bad guys doing bad things with bad intentions.”

    Bringing it back full circle to my initial complaint of the movie being rushed, the whole thing with Sinestro putting on the yellow ring was seriously full of WTF. The reason he had that ring made was to fight “fear with fear” and defeat Parallex. So, Hal defeats Parallex with the green ring, showing Sinestro that will can overcome fear. What does Sinestro do? He puts the yellow ring for absolutely no reason. They could have developed Sinestro’s downfall over the period of a couple of films instead of stuffing it in there at the end. We didn’t know enough about the other Lanterns for that moment to actually have MEANING. It wasn’t an “oh my God” moment, it was a “what is this guy doing?” moment. Seriously, why is Sinestro still obsessed with yellow energy when he had JUST commended Hal for defeating Parallex, the ultimate embodiment of fear? It made absolutely no sense.

    I think that’s why so many people “hated on” this movie.

    End of rant.

    • To answer your question, M.E.,

      Many people DID enjoy the film and have found many reasons (or a few significant ones) to like it. They defend their right to like the film, because so many other people have been blasting it.

      It was not a perfect film; it could have been quite a bit better, but it got a lot right too.

      For my part, I DID think it flowed fairly well and made sense. I thought the characterizations were done beautifully and the motivations for those characters seemed logical. I loved the costumes, the locations, and the effects (including, and especially, the ring constructs).

      I DO wish the film had been longer, so that many of its concepts and characters could have been explored in more depth, but I thought it was great fun and a good start to what (hopefully, though much less likely at the moment) will be a new superhero film franchise.

      Those are some of the reasons people have been defending (and will continue to defend) “Green Lantern”.

      • For me its all about being consistent and that’s the sole reason why I’m defending GL. It definitely had its problems and stupidness but so did both Thor and XMFC. I didn’t see EITHER of those shows however get a thread devoted to how poorly they matched their comicbook canon. If you are going to drag a movie through the dirt and consider it a failure because of how many things didn’t match, then you need to do it for ALL THREE.

        It felt VERY hypocritical and unfair to me, almost like the writers didn’t care about the Marvel IPs but cared a bit TOO much about GLs history. It became personal and it showed.

  2. Good lord. Honestly, I enjoyed this article for what it was; the movie not so much. In fact didn’t screen rant do one for XFC? Explaining elements that worked on film that weren’t faithful to the comics?

    Anyways, I am a huge fan of green lantern and I despise this film. Not because I’m a purist, but because the first draft of this movie was borderline amazing and I thought that it wouldbe similar.

    Sadly I was deceived. Jk but really here’s hoping they reboot it similar to the incredible hulk.

  3. i have to admit the green lantern film wasn’t good, but it wasnt total crappy. It very hard to translate a 50 years comic into a 1-2 hours film, and overall it pretty good for a second rate superheros. It also better then any stuff YOU can do, if you can’t do better don’t judge. I hope to see how you would make a green lantern film, properly boring the crud out of me with 24 hour of film and explaining each detail.

    • That would be easy: actually pick a relevant and relatable theme (of which Green Lantern has many), focus on it, shape the origin story around it, and properly develop it.

      In my case: That we all have the will to overcome our negative emotions, no matter how deep they may run, or how scary the world we are faced with is. Toss in Hal Jordan and demonstrate how this guy who is a fearless pilot isn’t shaken by the the revelation of deep space and aliens, but is unnerved by just one thing: fear that his father died scared and panicked…only to come to realize that his dad was a hero who sacrificed himself to save others.

      That realization about his dad would lead to Hal ACTUALLY overcoming fear and becoming the most powerful Lantern. It would also transform his character from overly arrogant and cocky, to fearless and heroic.

      Any other questions?

      • Interesting take. While the theme of overcoming fear was present in the film, it could of been expounded upon better.

        What other themes did you see?

      • do it then if its easy, use action figues if need be, just back up all your talk with actions :) i look forward to watching your green lantern movie.

    • So you have written better movies than the ones you didn’t like? Did you like Jonah Hex, or Catwoman, or Elektra? No? Well, when is your version coming out?

      I really hate that type of argument: If you didn’t like it, then do a better one.

      • That is such a weak argument….”if you don’t like it then why don’t you make a better one”, you sound like 4 years old on the swingset.

        • That’s my point, it’s a bad argument. I’m not sure if you meant that reply for me or Hater.

          • If Hollywood was a true open market where the best script and ideas won all the time, I might. I happened to be in film writing…til I saw the inner workings of the industry and all the B.S. that goes into what scripts get selected and the often lack of control a writer has over their work. Not for me.

            Instead I give Hollywood free ideas via this platform called Screen Rant ;-)

            I’ll be happy to write you a story treatment for the sequel right here and now.

            • I’m sure you can come up with a great story, but I’m not the one who asked…Hater did. I replied to him/her that it is a weak argument to tell someone to write their own movie if they didn’t like GL. I guess I didn’t relay that message very well.

            • @ Kofi

              I too thought about film school but decided against it, even with support i had from family & friends. I felt like i needed as much freedom as i can ask for to deliever the best movie possible please everyone.

          • Kahless, that was directed at Hater, not you, sorry.

  4. Hector Hammond was definitely the most interesting character in the movie. There were times when I would have had rather seen a movie with him as the main focus.

    Kilowog and Tomar-Re were great too, but… They literally had about 10 minutes of screentime and we learn absolutely nothing about either of them.

    I’m not overly familiar with the comics, but I didn’t like the movie very much. It wasn’t terrible, but it sure as heck wasn’t good by any means.

  5. Havent had the oppurtunity to see the film yet, being stuck in Australia. Our release date is August. But this article was still an enjoyable read and has made me wanna see GL. Got to see what all the fuss is about.

  6. It’s way easier for an audience to accept that there’s this fear creature and that fear is a more powerful force than willpower, than just to sum it up as green can’t fight yellow because it’s yellow. That’s the kind of argument my 3 year old niece would come up with to tell me what crayons I can use while we color a picture of a unicorn.

    I’ll bet you there’s a director’s cut that fixes a lot of the problems in the character development.

    • The point I got was Parallax(movie)lived off fear or fed off fear,not the nonsense the reviewer wrote about skeleton whatever….

  7. What was the point of this article?? Right from the start the comic books had already won, just like any other comic book would, because thats what fanboys are expecting from the movie, stuff from the comics. Of course having said that, there are examples of movies that don’t really follow the books and create their own path( batman returns, the dark knight, etc) but to have an article of a movie people clearly didn’t like, your just wasting time and trying to just bash it even more, they tried, but didn’t fail, could it be better, ya maybe, the first x-men wasn’t really to peoe what they wanted, could of had much more, but they gave it another shot and got X2. So I think it will make a profit and we will see a sequel which will hopefully make up for some mistakes made. And for the record this article was stupid as in you did t give the movie a chance from the start.pointless.

  8. Saw the movie last night,these critics are obviously Marvel fans or DC haters,all comic book movies are different or slightly similar with the exception of Watchmen(the guy who wrote this article stated he did not fancy Watchmen).What’s up with this???There was no Thor or X-Men:FC comics vs. movies rant.I have a few Hal Jordan GL comics maybe a little over 10 and a few Kyle GL to add to those numbers so I don’t know much of Hal GL but from what I have read here or there or anywhere,but as a comic book fan the movie was good not great or the greatest.
    One thing,only one,Hal acts fearless and tough in the books,but the movie Hal shying a bit from that was bearable.

  9. Saw the movie today. Wasn’t TDK or First class but it was decent. Was able to give the gen. audience info on the GL corps, guardians etc. In fact it explained almost everything but if you missed one moment you would’ve prolly missed something important.

    • Wondering how many people who made comments are allergic to peanuts? Would they still eat a chocolate bar that says “WARNING HAS PEANUTS”? This article was clearly wriiten to get a response. It clearly says its snarky. Why would you even read it if your a Green Lantern movie defender?

      • avatar_popco…

        That comparison simply doesn’t work: A peanut allergy affects health. An aversion to poorly-conceived articles does not. If someone allegic to peanuts eats something with peanuts in it, they are a risking life. Someone reading an article on a site ostensibly open to ALL lovers of movies and comics should not have to worry if that article is going to push a topic WELL past the point when it had already caused an angry backlash

        …hmmm, this movie review has caused an extreme polarization…I know: Let’s take that THREE steps further. Yeah, that’ll work.

        What you’re saying is simply don’t read the article if you don’t agree with the opinion being given…let all those who are like-minded have an exclusive forum to continue agreeing.That’s great FOR A PRIVATE BLOG. This, however, is a movie/TV site and, as such, should encourage ALL of its visitors/commentors to feel as if they are on equal footing. We don’t all have to agree on everything, BUT we DO have to respect those different opinions…Writing a piece that is clearly hostile to one side of an already tense “discussion” is just bad form.

        Here’s another way to look at it: Vic OWNS the site. He obviously can run it the way he wishes…Until now, that has meant that no one’s opinion trumped another person’s. To that end, when Vic responds to anything on the site, he does so in the comments (whether for OR against). Vic does not write an article titled “This is the truth, and here’s why”. THIS piece smacked of just such an approach.

        Now, I DO agree with a variation of the idea you expressed: If there’s a piece on ________ movie, and you haven’t seen that movie, will not, don’t want to, don’t like the subject matter, don’t like the director, don’t like the actor,…don’t like ANY aspect of that movie, WHY do you feel the need to waste everyone’s time and patience commenting on that movie???

        ________ movie is discussed. I don’t CARE about it. I will NOT read
        said article…there’s NO point.

        That is different from: I care about said subject, have even
        commented on said subject, and wish to defend/criticize said subject.

        Hopefully, that clarifies it a bit.

        • “Vic does not write an article titled ‘This is the truth, and here’s why’. THIS piece smacked of just such an approach.”

          No, Archaeon, it absolutely doesn’t smack of that. It smacks of, here is my opinion on this, and here’s why. It smacks of, this is a comprehensive guide to the differences between the film and the comics, and, additionally, a satirical op-ed about the film. I wasn’t trying to insult the people who loved this film. To each his/her own. I wasn’t trying to say their opinions on it are any less valid. They’re not. I’m totally happy you enjoyed the film, Archaeon. Honestly. I hope it sits on your DVD/Blu-Ray shelf for many years to come.

          • Ben…

            I appreciate your even-handed response. I still do not perceive it that way, but I’m willing to concede that my initial reaction may have been colored by the fact that my nerves (just with regard to this particular subject matter, not in general) had already been rubbed raw by the previous thread fiasco.

      • I thought the spoilers/discussion thread was closed too. Only realized after it was just the review that was closed.

  10. Why do people always mention about TDK whenever they give a good or bad opinion of another comic book film. Just curious.

    • Because many think TDK is the “end all to beat all” of comic book movies. To be honest, I’d rather see GL over TDK any day.

      • I dont i found TDK rather boring.

      • @ Kahless

        Well, they can enjoy it while it lasts, because as time passes someone could always make a Batman film that top that film as ive stated before on here. To be honest i could watch Burton’s 89 Batman film or Nolan’s Batman Begins over TDK anyday.

  11. Green Lantern aswell of-course.

  12. ok, the point here is that I think this whole Green Lantern thing has gotten blown way out of proportion. It’s only a movie, none of them are perfect(not even The Dark Knight)just soo much nitpicking, about things that are just stupid. How come no one made a big stink when they didn’t do Ras Al Ghul the right way with the lazarus pit and him bieng hundreds of years old. Obviously it didn’t fit with what they had planned for the movie, because you cant do everything that is done in the comics exactly on the screen, even the original Superman(to which all Superhero movies owe all their success to, if it wasnt for that you woldnt have the ones we have today) Lex Luthor is bald in the comics, but in the movies he wears wigs,thats because it fits with how Gene Hackman was portraying him.Does GL have faults, yes it does, was it a terrible movie, no it wasnt, but there have been sequels to worse movies and hopefully, WB/DC will give it the benefit of the doubt, cut the budget and make a better sequel< it been done before with other franchises(Star Trek II is a prominent one that comes to mind)

  13. It is of my opinion that superhero movies are supposed to be super. Green Lantern is merely ordinary. It’s just mah opinion on this film.

  14. lol, the second picture of comic’s greenlatern also use the “veritable nose amplifier made from what appears to be green jellyfish flesh” mask..

  15. isnt it strange that you cant develop characters in 2 hours as much as you can in 50+ years?? i just dont understand how this movie failed to fit 50+ years of lore characters motivation ect… into 2 hours geeze hollywood step it up this shouls have been atleast 6 hours woth of character development.

    • You very much missed the point of this article. Congratulations.

  16. Nowhere does the article complain that the movie wasn’t *exactly like* the comics. It complains that the movie wasn’t *as good as* the comics. I agree. But I also liked the movie.

  17. You could have compared it a little more than that at least I mean yes it didn’t go with the comics exactly but honestly it’s the comics of DC universe were talking about here as many multiverse alternate dimensions as these characters have I think anything in these movies should be considered a possibility and not have an uproar of nerds slapping it down. It was good be glad we nerds got this much hell be glad we get any comic movies at all the way the world is now.

    • Congratulations. You, too, did not get the point of the article.

  18. so to sum it all up, the film isnt good because it wasnt 500+ hours long, every complaint you had was just a basic fault with films in general, that you cant explore in depth any idea because it has to fit in a 1.5 hour film

    • No, that does not sum it up, but thanks for trying.

  19. Great article! It articulates everything I disliked about the movie but which I couldn’t form in words.

    The posters who argue that it is impossible to insert decades of backstory into a 100 minute movie obviously haven’t been watching recent comic book adaptations. Critical and commercial successes of films like Richard Donner’s Superman to even more recent outings like Batman Begins or Captain America show that once you can distill the essence of what makes that particular hero unique, you can pretty much reproduce it on-screen and it will engage and enthrall audiences.

    By that token, Watchmen failed because it reproduced the form but not the substance of what made the comic great. And Iron Man succeeded because it got to the heart of Tony Stark’s motivations, not just put up pretty CGI of red and gold powered armor. Spider-Man succeeded because Peter Parker struggling with great power and responsibility was drama, while Daredevil was less successful because the script and direction got lost in plot threads involving far too many villains and failing to build up the hero as a credible protagonist. Notice that in many of the movies that did well, there were times when watching the main character out of costume was more absorbing than watching them kicking a$$ and taking names? To my mind, the better comic book adaptations were simply better _movies_ that just happened to have superheroes in them.

    Ben Moore holds up everything he thought was great about the recent Geoff Johns reboot of Green Lantern (missing out only on the family issues with his siblings which I really like) and tries to see whether the movie captured any of that. To him and quite a large number of the moviegoing audience: no. We get great effects and highly choreographed fight scenes, but none of the charm and depth of the comics’ Hal Jordan is translated on-screen. I watched it with my wife, who regularly enjoys superhero movies, but she was bored and wondered why I’d spend my time collecting the comic books about GL and the Corps.

    Superficial comparisons about costumes and effects aside, I’d say that too many cooks spoiled the broth. If you look at how many writers were credited, you’d see that this was the cinematic equivalent of a democracy and perhaps too many well-meaning contributors trying to bring something meaningful to the table. Unfortunately, the purity of vision was lost along the way and the movie just got mired in, I suppose, what each writer thought was important being given equal weight. Trying to please everyone, but in the end pleasing no one.

    I didn’t _hate_ GL, but I’d rather have had more of the spooky, space-faring excitement of the first 5 minutes (when the alien crash survivors encounter Parallax) and the dazzling space-going thrill ride of Hal’s first view of Oa than the rather unimportant filler that takes up the rest of the movie. The threats did not feel threatening, the stakes did not seem that high and everything just felt out of sync with what was going on. Compare and contrast this with the animated GL: First Flight animated feature. You get a far more complete understanding of the GL universe and a better characterization of Hal Jordan (played excellently by Nathan Fillion) compared with Ryan Reynolds’ rendition (who in my opinion would have made a much better Wally West Flash). Run time is about the same.

    In short: it can be done. They failed with GL, but here’s hoping there was enough support anyway so that they can finance a re-boot with new actors, director and a clearer vision. On that note, having Geoff Johns involved does not necessarily mean it would be good. I found every movie Frank Miller involved with before Sin City just unbearable, and for the latter, I think Robert Rodriguez had just enough directing chops to make sure that Mr Miller didn’t derail the outcome. I’d prefer someone who knows how to look at a comic book property, respect the history, understand what people love about the character but also be unafraid to bring it one step further and give us something fresh, new and cool. I think Green Lantern deserves that.

  20. First of all the movie was somewhat disappointing in my opinion. I think the reason for why Green Lantern was an unsuccessful movie was described well in the last paragraph of this review.

    I agree with the author that transparent adaptation from comic book canon to big screen does not always guarantee a satisfying cinematic experience. That is why I was a little confuse to see a comparison of the comic books vs the movie, that segment of the review came off as a useless rant to belittle the downfall of the movie instead of addressing why the movie failed. To be honest the movie stayed pretty close to the comics for the most part.

    Making the essence of a popular iconic figure whose story has been told and retold and expanded for decades fit in a two hour movie is difficult. The good comic movies preserve the original essence of their comic book hero while evolving the story to be relevant in the current time it resides in. We are in a comic book movie age where character’s depth and interaction with world around them is paramount. Compared to it’s peers GL could not compare to the likes of The Batman movies, The Avengers, or Spider man movies who have excelled in these aspects. Captain America, Thor, and X-Men:First Class understood these aspects all Marvel movies and all who competed during the summer of 2011 against GL. That is what hurt the most for me being a DC guy.

  21. My take on the Green Lantern movie was that it was intended to set the stage for sequels. It appeared to me like it was setting the stage for Sinestro. In my opinion, Sinestro is the iconic villian in the Green Lantern Universe. I don’t want to bash other people’s opinions because we all like what we like. I didn’t enjoy the Dark Knight at all. I got up and left in the middle of it actually. I felt like that movie should have been called “Heath Ledger’s Joker” rather than the Dark Knight. Again, just my opinion, only my two cents.

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