For a few years now, we’ve been promised a Green Lantern movie set in the DC Extended Universe. The last time this was attempted, we got a film that soured the public’s view of DC Comics and almost brought an end to poor Ryan Reynolds’ career. So, the studio will need to tread very lightly when it eventually sits down to re-adapt that source material. Fortunately, Marvel Studios has already provided DC with the perfect template for how to make a Green Lantern movie work: Guardians of the Galaxy. Here are 10 Cues The DCEU’s Green Lantern Movie Should Take From Guardians Of The Galaxy.
10 Fun, lighthearted tone
The most important element of any superhero movie is tone, because it’s a character-driven genre and if the tone of the film doesn’t match the character, then the whole thing will crumble. Just look at Man of Steel, a bleak, grounded, Dark Knight-inspired (“inspired” being the nice way to say “ripped off”) Superman movie. Superman is a bright, colorful, happy-go-lucky character who strives to do nothing but help people. Man of Steel betrays that. A Green Lantern movie shouldn’t have this misguided palette of dark, grim visual strokes. It should be fun and lighthearted and comical, like the Guardians of the Galaxy movies are.
9 Palpable team dynamic
Ryan Reynolds’ Green Lantern movie focused on Hal Jordan and Hal Jordan only, with all of the supporting characters being one-dimensional, barely featured, and entirely forgettable. Like the Guardians of the Galaxy, the Green Lantern Corps are a team, and any movie incarnation needs to reflect that by giving them an actual team dynamic. The Guardians feel like a real family, and all of its members are fleshed-out. It’s clear that Star-Lord is the lead character and the focus, but his teammates feel just as developed and integral as he does. There are other Green Lanterns to explore on the team.
8 Iconic casting
The casting team behind the Guardians of the Galaxy movies was spot on. Every actor in the cast brings something unique and iconic to their role. When Karen Gillan first read for Nebula, the character was just a one-dimensional villain, but Gillan focused her performance on Nebula’s rivalry with her sister, Gamora, and before too long, she was one of the MCU’s most beloved and tragic antiheroes. When the casting directors for Guardians suggested Chris Pratt, James Gunn initially dismissed him, because he was known only as Andy from Parks and Rec, but now that he’s been Star-Lord for half a decade, it’s easy to see that no one but Pratt could play Peter Quill. The same goes for Zoe Saldana as Gamora, Bradley Cooper as Rocket, Vin Diesel as Groot, Dave Bautista as Drax, Michael Rooker as Yondu, and countless others.
7 Embedding world-building into the plot
The Guardians movies have introduced us to strange new worlds like Knowhere and Xandar, and shown us the inner workings of entire societies like the Sovereign and the Ravagers. But this world-building has never distracted from the plot, because it’s always a part of the plot, rather than a detour between plot points. This is also how to give audiences world-building that’s actually memorable.
It’s an example of showing instead of telling. There’s a vast universe out there filled with planets and the Green Lanterns’ purpose is to police them, so a Green Lantern movie will require plenty of world-building. Like James Gunn has done in the Guardians movies, this world-building should serve the plot.
6 Inter-character banter
One of the things that makes the Guardians of the Galaxy films so fun and also sets them apart from the rest of the genre is that the Guardians trade banter in between intergalactic adventures (and also sometimes in the middle of them). The Green Lanterns are basically a cosmic police squad. In every buddy cop movie, the detectives have banter with one another. They have the lead duo who have a fun, playful dynamic, and there is usually a rival duo that likes to bust their chops, and an angry captain. All of these need to be reflected in a Green Lantern movie with Guardians of the Galaxy-esque banter.
5 Distinctive soundtrack
One of the main selling points of the Guardians of the Galaxy franchise is the soundtrack. James Gunn handpicks a playlist of funk, pop, and soul music from the late ‘60s and early ‘70s to play over the movies and it gives them a nostalgic atmosphere. The Green Lantern movie shouldn’t copy what the Guardians movies does by giving Hal Jordan a retro music player and a list of songs from that era, but it can maintain the franchise’s musical spirit. The Guardians’ soundtracks go beyond licensed music. Tyler Bates’ theme tune is as recognizable as Alan Silvestri’s Avengers theme.
4 A distant relationship with Earth
The 2011 Green Lantern movie was mostly set on Earth. Yet here’s a whole cosmos filled with fascinating extraterrestrial creatures and foreign planets from the comics. The studios shouldn’t be afraid to explore that or fear that it will alienate the audience, because that’s what sci-fi fans want: pure escapism.
In the Guardians of the Galaxy movies, we know that Peter Quill is from Earth, but he has only ever actually been back there once, and that was in Avengers: Endgame. Hal Jordan and John Stewart don’t need to go to Earth for us to know that’s where they’re from.
3 Influence from space operas
While James Gunn has cultivated a pretty unique tone with the Guardians of the Galaxy films, it’s pretty clear where the influence has come from: space operas. With its space battles, lived-in futuristic environments, and plucky band of outlaws-turned-heroes, the influence of movies like Star Wars and Flash Gordon is obvious. The Green Lantern Corps are an interstellar police force. They’re the perfect fodder for a big-screen space opera. This kind of pulpy visual style would fit a Green Lantern movie like a glove, so Warner Bros. should look at the movies that inspired Gunn as the building blocks towards something that feels familiar, but fresh.
2 Humanizing alien characters
One of the great things that the Guardians of the Galaxy movies have managed to do is humanize alien characters. There’s a talking tree whose ultimate sacrifice made audiences bawl. This has been achieved through a combination of actors like Zoe Saldana and Dave Bautista taking their characters seriously and James Gunn focusing on their emotions, relationships and backstories when he’s writing them. The Guardians movies have a talking raccoon and a green-skinned warrior who both feel more human than most of the other characters in the MCU. Any Green Lantern Corps movie will definitely need this, since there will be a maximum of two human characters in the whole thing, and if their alien cohorts aren’t humanized, the humans won’t be enough to carry it.
1 Forcing the hero to grow beyond his goofy charms
It’s unclear which Green Lantern will be depicted in the Green Lantern movie, but it’s been suggested that an older Hal Jordan will train a younger John Stewart and it’ll be like a buddy cop movie. Either way, it should follow the Guardians movies in forcing the hero to grow beyond his goofy charms. A lot of fans decried how long it took for Star-Lord and Gamora to get together, but that’s actually one of the franchise’s greatest strengths. Rather than just fall for Peter Quill’s goofy charms and accept him as a forever-man-child, Gamora’s ongoing rejection forced Quill to grow up and become a better, more emotionally available person. The Green Lantern movie should do that if it uses Hal.