Well it’s about that time – time to kick open the doors and once again instigate the age-old battle between DC Comics fans and Marvel Comics fans, this time in the arena of the silver screen.
In the last month we’ve been graced with the first real looks at two upcoming movies featuring second-tier characters from the DC/Marvel universes: Thor and Green Lantern. Now, based on what we’ve seen in the Green Lantern trailer and the more recent Thor trailer, it’s time to discuss which comic book house is making the better product in the era of “Comic Book Movies 2.0”.
If that term – “Comic Book Movies 2.0” – doesn’t sound familiar, it’s because I just made it up (feel free to use it). I personally define the era of “Comic Book Movies 1.0” to be that time period running from the late 199os through the early 2000s, where films like X-Men, Spider-Man and Hulk turned comic book properties into Hollywood’s new golden calf. That “1.0” era ended around 2009 with Chris Nolan and The Dark Knight, which launched us into this “2.0” era, in which comic book movies are not just popcorn blockbusters, but serious (not to be confused with “dark”) cinematic ventures that attempt to be deep, complex, insightful and artistically refined, in addition to being fun and epic.
We could debate the shift in comic book movie eras for an entire post, but we can all acknowledge that DC, Marvel (and every comic book publisher in between) are currently ramping-up to make comic book movies in a way that has truly not been seen before: with comic properties as studios’ major tentpole focus; shared movie continuities; unique and visionary directors at the helm; and of course, money, money, money being invested.
Thor vs. Green Lantern
It’d be nice if we had the trailer for Captain America: The First Avenger to add to this mix, but for now Thor and Green Lantern are what we have to work with. I’ll post both trailers below for those who haven’t yet seen them, then we’ll compare them according to specific criteria:
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The Leading Men
Sure, we could talk about the casts of Thor and Green Lantern as a whole, because both movies feature an impressive cast of actors. However, in terms of these first trailers it’s the two leading men playing the titular comic book heroes who receive the majority of the focus, and will inevitably be responsible for carrying their respective films. So it’s the two leading men we shall discuss:
Thor (Chris Hemsworth)
While Australian movie fans are probably familiar with Hemsworth’s work, American movie fans are still getting to know him. Hemsworth was featured in the indie flick Ca$h – but admittedly, a lot of people didn’t catch that flick. The actor also had a brief but intense bit part in A Perfect Getaway last year – but again, a lot of people are just now catching that flick on cable. Unfortunately for Hemsworth (and Marvel) the actor’s two big American projects – the Red Dawn remake and the Joss Whedon horror film The Cabin in the Woods – either of which might’ve made Hemsworth a household name – both fell by the wayside thanks to the MGM Bankruptcy. Guess Hemsworth put his faith in the wrong studio…
Most American audiences will know Hemsworth best from the opening sequence of J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek reboot, where he played Captain Kirk’s father, George Kirk. While people may not immediately recognize that G. Kirk is the guy playing Thor, most will certainly acknowledge that – while brief – his Star Trek performance left a positive impression of Hemsworth as an actor.
As for Thor? Well Hemsworth has certainly beefed himself up to look the part of a warrior god and truly fits the mold of the character in terms of attitude. The intensity is there, the touch of humor (“Oh no, this is Earth isn’t it?“) and even some deeper Oedipal themes are successfully conveyed in his expressions when he confronts his father, Odin (Anthony Hopkins), in the trailer. If there were any doubters before, I think most fans are now breathing easy that marvel picked Hemsworth as their Thor.
Green Lantern (Ryan Reynolds)
Most people know Ryan Reynolds as the funny handsome charmer scamp from films like Van Wilder, The Proposal, or Waiting. Despite those comedic associations, Reynolds has proven he has range, playing dark and intense characters in films like The Amityville Horror remake and Buried; he also showed action/comedy chops in comic book flicks like Wolverine and Blade Trinity.
By now Reynolds is a household name, has been dubbed “Sexiest Man Alive” and (until yesterday) was married to one of the most famous actresses on the Hollywood A-list. So he’s a natural and prudent choice to help Warner Bros. give Green Lantern the mainstream appeal the character needs.
However, the fanboy community is still torn over the decision to cast Reynolds as Green Lantern/Hal Jordan. It’s not that they don’t like Reynolds, it’s just that some geeks feel that his funny handsome charmer scamp personality would’ve been much better suited to the character of The Flash (another DC movie on the horizon) rather than the more serious character of Hal Jordan. But despite the light tone of the first Green Lantern trailer, we here at Screen Rant know that the film will explore some dark themes; and while Reynolds can no doubt handle those darker moments, inevitably there will be other moments where flashes his charm or goes for a laugh, and that will leave some GL purists groaning and rolling their eyes.
VERDICT: He might not yet be tested on American shores, but Chris Hemsworth as Thor looks to be the early frontrunner.