GREEN LANTERN (2011): 8 Reasons Why this Superhero Movie Failed

Ryan Reynolds, Blake Lively, Green Lantern 2011

Green Lantern (2011) was a disappointment, a failure-in-wait foretold in the first Green Lantern movie trailer. The superhero genre has gone backwards and forwards with how serious superhero movies take themselves. It began with Richard Donnor‘s Superman but was fully initiated by Tim Burton‘s Batman. Iron Man successfully rode a fine line between humor and real world issues. The Dark Knight looked at domestic terrorism and its effect on the society of an industrialized city. Green Lantern, directed by Martin Campbell, starring Ryan Reynolds, Angela Bassett, Peter Sarsgaard, Tim Robbins, Blake Lively, Geoffrey Rush, Dennis Haysbert, John Larroquette, and Mark Strong, literally had the entire universe at its disposal and backdrop yet with the option of riding the line like Iron Man or taking itself seriously like The Dark Knight, Green Lantern (mimicking Thor) decided to be family-friendly with nothing residing below its surface.

These are the 8 Reasons Why Green Lantern Failed:

1. Standard Hero

Hal Jordan is a test pilot but that aspect of him is marginalized. He is a good guy looking for something to believe in and in some aspect of himself to believe in as well. This plot point is such a large, recycled cliche that saying it is ad nauseam is a kindness.

2. Standard Hero plot

The hero’s personal problem (physical, mental, or both) and self-doubt are conquered by Act Three of the film. This structure is a regurgitation of hundreds of films before it from The Dragon Slayer to Daredevil. This would not be a problem except there was no innovation on this structure in Green Lantern.

3. No feeling of empathy towards the hero

Hal Jordan has everything. Its tough to empathize with someone like that. Like his Hannibal King in Blade Trinity, Ryan Reynolds is a goof hero with one-liners who imbues no feelings in the people watching his on-screen machinations. Ryan Reynolds’ Hal Jordan is vapid, empty, therefore the audience never cares for him, even when is in danger.

4. Uninspired film score

After Inception, Batman (1989), Batman Begins, Conan the Barbarian (1982), fans know a score can make a film. Green Lantern‘s is non-existent.

5. The human element was worthless

Every person in the film was disposable and interchangeable with each other. It didn’t matter who was playing what character. The characters had no backbone, no spark of life in them. They were just pretty vessels speaking words.

6. Outer Space with the Aliens too short

This was the best aspect and characters in the  film and they were marginalized to the introduction, a training scene, talking scenes, and the ending. The beginning of the film in outer space, in Sector 28-whatever was the best part of the film and sorely missed during the earth scenes where only pedestrian events transpired besides the ring transfer and The Oath.

7. Over reliance on CGI

The plot and character development in Green Lantern seemed secondary to the film’s special effects. The producers of the film forgot that these days, people want and expect it to be the other way around. The entire “saving the people with a green race track” scene was so goofy, idiotic, and absurd, a flag can be planted there as the moment when reality in this film and the film itself, for all intents and purposes, died. It was that bad of a moment, completely embarrassing. Imagine Christopher Nolan‘s Batman saving the day with snow cones and a ice cream truck with a big smile on his face. That is how “out of left field” it was. All the film’s validity went right out the window during that sequence, never to return. How could it unless the film was actually taking place in the Bizarro universe where everything is the opposite i.e. bad is good.

8. Cloudy, ineffective villains

Like Galactus in Fantastic Four and the first version of Deacon Frost’s Blood God in Blade before test audiences got a look at it, the supernatural cloud bad guy Parallax was an unfortunate choice by Green Lantern producers. The supernatural cloud bad guy is not an effective bad guy because it is de-humanized. The audience can not associate with it, put a “face” on it. Because of Green Lantern‘s average writing and standard plotting, the viewer was also ambivalent when this was not the case in the film, that example being Dr. Hector Hammond (Peter Sarsgaard). He is a generic character/villain who just happens to have a crush on the hero’s girl, another routine plot scenario existing in aforementioned Batman (1989) and in Transformers: Dark of the Moon. Bad guys can’t find any other girl in the world to have amorous feelings towards than the hero’s girl?


Green Lantern is a superhero film that doesn’t live up to its potential in any way, falling far below the quality of the Daredevil: Director’s Cut, Defendor, Boy Wonder, Kick-Ass, and Watchmen. Green Lantern is a comic book film with a good beginning that is squandered in the remainder of the film’s first act, almost the entirety of its second act, and its third act.

What did you think of Green Lantern?

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About the author

Rollo Tomasi

A Political Science and MBA grad who started FilmBook during an eCommerce B-School course in 2008. Cinema and TV addict. Former writer at Empire Movies, Blogcritics, and Alternative Film Guide. In addition to writing for FilmBook, he also edits the copy published on the website, manages its writing staff, manages the back-end operations, site finances, its social network accounts, and works with publicists, actors, and companies on press coverage and promotions. He has also created ProMovieBlogger.com and Trending Awards.com.

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