The Usual Suspects #37
Welcome back for another edition of The Usual Suspects. This week while everyone is talking up and flooding into theaters for Captain Marvel (myself included), I wanted to look at what DC should be doing with their own Cosmic side of the universe. Sure, they missed the mark with Ryan Reynolds’ Green Lantern, but I think it’s about time to let them out of the penalty box.
Geoff John’s run on Green Lantern back in 2005-2011 was one of my favorite runs ever. That run really got me back into comics after a bit of a lull following college. I can’t fathom how they missed the mark so badly with that film in 2011. Ryan Reynolds can be charismatic when he wants, but here he came off as mostly disinterested. It looked like work for him. Unlike how effortless he makes playing Deadpool.
And the director, Martin Campbell, had just done Casino Royale a few years before so it’s not like they gave this to Brett Ratner. Mark Strong was perfect for Sinestro. As was Michael Clarke Duncan as the voice of Kilowog. Geoffrey Rush, Peter Sarsgaard, Angela Bassett, Taika Waititi; there was talent involved here.
This should have started a renaissance for DC movies. Taking them past the Nolan Batfilms and allowing them to build something bigger. Something to rival the MCU; which it so happens, was building towards the Avengers. Green Lantern was released in June 2011, right in between Thor and Captain America. It should have been a hit.
Well it wasn’t. It was just so uninteresting through most of it. There were good ideas here, but they focused on all the wrong stuff.
By now, can we agree that a movie doesn’t have to focus on Earth to keep an audience’s attention? No need to force the conflict to our planet just to keep the audience engaged. Taking place on the west coast doesn’t make a man with a green ring that allows him to basically make anything he wants more “realistic” and relatable. And hopefully studios have learned that giant smoke monsters do not make impressive villains.
Just poor decision, after poor decision. And they rushed back to Earth way too quickly. The training stuff on Oa, went by way to fast. That was the best part of the movie. What was it 10 minutes? They just breezed past him meeting a couple alien lanterns, a couple training sessions, a couple Sinestro monologues, and boom he’s outta there. Back to earth to show us… a fund raising dinner?
Lean into the weirdness of Oa a bit, and give us more of the Green Lantern Corps. Why waste an Oscar winning actor like Geoffrey Rush on only 2 minutes of Tomar-Re? What did we get, only one Poozer out of Kilowog? Is that really all the training needed to wield the most powerful weapon in the universe? It was like one afternoon. And we had thousands of lanterns here, could we meet more than 3 of them?
Anyway, enough about how disappointing the first attempt at the GL movie was. It’s been 8 years. It’s about time we reboot this sucker. So while most of the movie going public is out seeing Captain Marvel this weekend, let’s start game planning DC’s comeback at the cinemas.
Aquaman was far from perfect, but it was fun. It was an entertaining adventure flick that embraced taking us to new and fantastical worlds. They didn’t shy away from the weird. I realize they were still technically on earth, but Atlantis might as well have been another planet. There was an octopus playing drums for god’s sake.
You rock, Topo! Anyway, we need more world building. Not more grim and gritty realism. Nolan already played that card, and Snyder ran in into the ground. Movies are escapism, or at least comic movies should be. We’re talking about fantastical beings with otherworldly powers. I don’t need some physicist’s take on how this would be possible in the real world. Sorry Neil.
Let someone else contemplate the effects of a Superman actually being introduced to society. Show me something epic. I want to see Superman fighting Parasite, or Metallo, or Braniac. I don’t want to see him testifying in a federal hearing. Seriously, this is how you spend your budget?
Yeah, Supes, I was so bored and slept through that part too. Yeah, what kid doesn’t want to go to a movie called Batman vs. Superman to see Superman…testify? Alright, I can really lose my way here going off on a tangent bashing these movie, but my point is, this stuff should be fun.
And by fun I don’t mean it needs to be non-stop jokes. I’m not advocating audiences be Def Comedy Jamming in the aisles. If you watched HBO in the 90’s, you know what I’m talking about. I really miss that show, spotlighting so many great stand-up comedians. How many stars did we see for the first time on that stage?
Anyway, to get back on topic I am not talking about making superhero movies funny. I said fun. I want to be smiling. I want to be filled with wonder. I want things I haven’t seen before. Even in a movie as terrible as Superman Returns, who wasn’t smiling when Superman caught that shuttle and set it down in the middle of a baseball game? That was great.
That’s all I am saying. I want to have fun at the movies. I want to be shocked and surprised. I want to be entertained, not watch CSPAN. I don’t want to contrast religious iconography with my superheroes. I get it, Superman is Jesus. Wow, what a deep thought. You have your senior thesis in film study right there. Congratulations. How about you just give me more aliens fighting dudes flying around in capes?
So lean into the alien oddities of Oa. Give me some interactions with Tomar-Re, Arisia, G’Hu, Sodam Yat, Salaak, or Soranik Natu. Give me Mogo. And give me Ch’p and B’dg. Audiences can take it.
And before you start saying it’ll cost too much for CGI, yada yada; just remember Marvel has made multiple movies where main characters are completely CGI. Do talking Trees and Racoons ringing any bells? The main character in the movie with the largest opening weekend of all-time was an all CGI giant purple alien. So it can be done.
My pitch isn’t even to have any of these alien creatures be the star, or focus of a Green Lantern Corps movie. We don’t need to. I still think we focus on the human Lanterns. The key will be the costumes.
But seriously the costumes can appear via animation from the ring, but then let them be practical suits the actors can wear. It doesn’t need to be realistic or make sense. The actors will maintain that. Marvel doesn’t overly explain how Tony Stark’s suit appears around him, or how T’Challa’s mask forms over his face. It just happens with the loosest reference to technology.
The actors will keep it grounded. That’s how we keep the audience engaged. They can suspend disbelief if the actors are good enough to sell the illusion. You give them multiple points of view from 3-4 very different Green Lanterns. Mix in some more fantastical elements and quirky alien characters through an epic plot with some twists and turns along the way, and boom; you have the start of something.
While we’re on that topic, just because this is the start of something; that doesn’t mean we need an origin story. Let people figure it out based on context. You don’t need to spoon feed everyone. Most people already got the basics going in, and if not they’ll pick it up along the way if you have engaging characters and a clear plot. How awesome was Mad Max Fury Road? Now, how much time did they spend laying out the back story? Zero. They dropped you right into the world and let you figure it out.
That said, Warner Bros missed an opportunity putting James Gunn on the Suicide Squad sequel. You’re wasting his strengths on what amounts to a probable paint by numbers action flick franchise. I mean the strength of the Suicide Squad should not be in the team beating some world threatening villain. You have the Justice League for that. The Suicide Squad should be used to do something more akin to a heist flick. More Oceans 11 than Avengers. Have Amanda Waller build a team that needs to break into the Batcave to steal kryptonite, for her just in case Superman contingency. And get me Joe Carnahan to give me that movie in the vein of Smokin’ Aces. Now that’s the Suicide Squad movie I want to see.
But bringing it back to James Gunn, let him create worlds in Green Lantern like he did in Guardians of the Galaxy. I know, it might seem a bit on the nose, but go right at Marvel. Marvel was going to let him mold their Cosmic Universe before they fired him over some nonsense that was addressed over a decade ago. So let the man create your universe. Imagine what he could do with it. Don’t waste him on that color vomit pop up music video nonsense that was Suicide Squad. Yeah your Joker is so intense that he sends used condoms to his co-stars and spends hours meticulously laying out knives and guns just to lie down for a bit.
Then again, you could follow the buddy cop route. Green Lanterns are like space cops after all. So give them a mission where a couple Lanterns, that we haven’t seen on the big screen yet, team up to save the one we already know, Hal Jordan. Gives the audience something familiar, but lets you focus on something newer and fresh.
I’ve seen internet movie pitches about making it like Training Day, but that’s too grim. Give me something more fun like a Tango & Cash vibe. In the sense that you take two hotshots that are very different from one another, and force them to work together towards a common goal.
Maybe Hal Jordan is lost out in the uncharted zone investigating something, and John Stewart and Guy Gardner have to work together to find out what happened to him. And maybe somewhere along the way the rookie, Kyle Rayner and his trainer Kilowog show up to help them through the third act. I’m just spit balling ideas here.
I don’t have it all worked out yet, but you get what I am saying here. And maybe get Shane Black to script doctor it a bit once you have the spacefaring plot laid out. Let him tweak the characterization and buddy interactions. Before you start complaining about Iron Man 3 and the most recent Predator movie, remember this guy can write banter. Remember he wrote Lethal Weapon 1 & 2, The Last Boy Scout, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, and The Nice Guys.
Let’s start universe building here DC, instead of reflecting on how your heroes would fit into our current real world. I’d love to hear other people’s ideas on what they’d like to see, but I think you get what I am going for here. So the rest of the way I am going to lay out the 1st appearances of the Lanterns that I want to see in my ideal Green Lantern movie. But my main focus will be to throw down some dream casting ideas for this imaginary Green Lantern movie like an old Wizard Magazine. A little something different this week for you.
So with that said…let’s get into it.
Origin & 1st appearance of the Silver Age Green Lantern (Hal Jordan)
1st appearance Abin Sur & Carol Ferris
Well, this is one of those next level books. I don’t expect to be adding one of these to my PC anytime soon as my budget just won’t allow it. That said, that doesn’t mean I can’t look. Plus I might be able to swing a low grade reader.
But anyway, this is the 1st appearance and origin of Hal Jordan. So you get a lot of 1st’s as well as the story we all know by now. Fuchsia colored guy dies and his glowy green ring calls Hal to come and get it. Boom new superhero.
But we’ve now seen that a few times now on the big screen as well as animated, so we really don’t need it again.
We all know who Green Lantern is, so I’m not gonna waste any more time on background. Instead, I’m gonna carry through on my new Green Lantern Corps movie idea. So let’s talk casting.
I’ve seen those old Tom Cruise rumors as well as the more recent Armie Hammer plans. Not bad choices, and I could see it if that were to happen; but neither would be my first choice. If this were 10 years ago, I would most certainly pick Nathan Fillion.
Unfortunately, those days are behind us. So whose finger would I put a ring on? If given my choice, with no contractual obligations or budget concerns in the way, I would hand it over to Bradley Cooper. He’s charismatic, commands the screen, can be seen as a leader, and has that intensity about him like he could snap and go off the rails Parallax style if need be.
And let me just say from the outset, that I don’t claim that my choices are unique and that no one else has ever thought of, or suggested these choices. These are just ideas I would consider to be good selections if I had the power to make these decisions in this hypothetical.
So Bradley Cooper would be a huge name now for them. And if it were a smaller role as planned in my outline, it would be pretty workable I think. I know he’s Rocket, but that’s just a voice. So outside of Chris Evans, whom would be better to suit up as Hal?
But how cool would that be as a dark horse sleeper pick? Captain America is now Green Lantern. And this isn’t revealed until the end of the 3rd act. All flashbacks to Hal earlier in the movie, hide his face. So it’s a shock when you finally see his face when he’s found out in the unknown sector.
And Boom, its Captain Frickin’ America. With a yellow twinkle behind his eyes. Ooooohhh…
Active Listings: About 25 listings up right now. Nearly all of them are graded and a few of them are restored. Top listing is a CGC 7.5 for over $20k. The cheapest a CGC 1.0 for $1,350. Yeah, a bit out of my range right now. I could swing a reprint edition though.
Market Analysis: Prices are up overall since the last Green Lantern Film. There was a lull immediately after the movie in the 2012 range, but prices have rebounded quite nicely. When you look at the sales average over the last year compared to the average from the 8 year stretch since the movie, prices are up a ton. And all this without a follow up film or announcement. They make my Tango & Cash with rings and this could climb even higher.
1st appearance of Guy Gardner
Abin Sur appearance. Origin of Green Lantern retold
And here we have Guy Gardner. He’d be the Gabriel Cash archetype in my Tango & Cash buddy cop dynamic. The wild card. The arrogant cad, who can be so obnoxious; but yet remain a bit charming and likeable. That is not an easy thing to pull off.
He can be annoying and really get under your skin. I mean, there’s a reason that Batman slugged him.
That’s textbook Ryan Reynolds. Not his take on Deadpool, per se, but how he was as Monty in Waiting. A decent comedy that I don’t mind watching every now and again. I was never a server but this was pretty amusing behind the scenes look at a restaurant. Give it a looksee if you don’t know what I’m talking about. Lookout for that Batwing.
Obviously we can’t use Ryan Reynolds so, I turn my attention towards a personal favorite. Jensen Ackles. That’s right, Dean Winchester is my pick to pull off the loveable d-bag Guy Gardner. He checks all of the boxes for me. Plus he’s not afraid to really commit to a bit.
I’ll admit, I am a big fan of Supernatural. It’s been 14 years and I am still following these 2 brothers as they travel around the country killing monsters in their ’67 Impala. Yeah I know it can be cheesy at times, but I like it. I enjoy the dynamics of their relationship and the roster of supporting characters over the years. Who doesn’t love Castiel accompanying the boys after all these years? I did miss Bobby for a while though.
And I don’t think you need to force the red hair. Yes, I understand it’s a signature look for the character on paper, but forcing an orange bowl cut on anyone today would be a mistake.
I’m all for faithfulness to the source material, but there is no reason the character absolutely needs red hair. With that in mind, my outside the box alternative, dark horse selection would be Michael B. Jordan. Yes, I know he’s Killmonger. And I know he already took on Johnny Storm as well, but that’s in part why I think he could pull it off. He can do cocky and arrogant, and still be likeable.
Active Listings: Right around 30 copies of this book on the market. CGC 9.4 is the top dog at $2,200. Most copies however are in that mid-grade range both graded and raw for between $200 – $400. You could grab a cheap beater copy for $50 or less but it will not be pretty.
After watching this week’s Tales From The Flipside on Foreign editions, I am kind of intrigued by a Dutch version that has a reverse image of the cover. But that’s a rabbit hole I just don’t want to go down just yet.
Market Analysis: Once again, even without any announcements or buzz on the Green Lantern titles, this is another book that’s been a steady riser. Guy has his fans, and they are willing to pony up the bucks to grab his 1st appearance. I want one, but it’s just behind the next issue on my priority list.
1st appearance of John Stewart
2nd appearance of Guy Gardner (cameo)
1st Elliot S. Maggin story
You know, Michael B. Jordan would also work here. He’s an excellent actor and can pull off the serious intensity that would be required for John Stewart. A military man, that is decidedly more strict and abrasive. He would be the Ray Tango in my analogy here.
So Adonis Creed would work. And I would absolutely pick him over Common, Tyreese, and a bunch of other actors who have thrown their hats into the ring. But even though he’s a bit older now, I still see Idris Elba suiting up. Maybe it’s just in the eyes. But if Idris can’t be my Bond, then let him be my John Stewart.
And he is a popular choice on the interwebs for this role, but I just take that as further evidence that it’s a good idea. Much like the tricky balance needed for Guy, it’s also a requirement here. No one wants to watch the stick in the mud. He has to be the straight man, and yet still be likeable as well. Not easy to do, which is why they have such a hard time making Cyclops work in the X-men movies. I like James Marsden, but they didn’t give him a lot to work with.
Now for the dark horse choice, I like the online suggestions for Ricky Whittle. Maybe I just can’t wait for American Gods to come back, but he can definitely pull off the John Stewart role. He conveys intensity but also an approachability. I wouldn’t be mad if it ended up like this.
The bottom line is that my Guy and John need to be likeable. They are the backbone and the stars of my film idea after all. Sure everyone knows Hal, but like I said, my film would follow these two partnered up and butting heads for 2 hours. So I’d be happy to watch Dean Winchester share the screen with either Shadow or the Gunslinger. Or Michael B. Jordan be paired up with either Dean or Shadow. Hey, we’re mixing and matching here folks.
Active Listings: About the same couple dozen copies up for John Stewart as Guy Gardner’s 1st appearance. This might be the better deal though with the top listing being two CGC 9.6’s up for $1,800 or $2,250. Those low to mid copies are still in that same $200 – $400 range too.
And look, there’s even a Dutch version of this one available too. It’s tempting to just dip a toe into that foreign collecting market and check of obtaining a key at the same time.
Market Analysis: Different book and the same story. Prices are still basically on the rise. Again, I may need to make a move on one of these soon before it creeps out of range. A nice low grade slab or mid-grade raw for around $100 isn’t crazy.
I know a lot of collector’s are high grade or bust, but not me. I’m looking for my PC, so I don’t care so much what the resale will be. Chances are I won’t sell unless I find a better copy. So my preference would be to have a nice copy, I am completely content with a worn copy as long as it doesn’t disintegrate in your hands.
1st appearance of Kyle Rayner
Emerald Twilight Part 1
This brings us to our last human Lantern, Kyle Rayner. Kyle came out of the 90’s and he replaced Hal after he went all Dark Side on us. As a result, a lot of folks never really took to Kyle. Plus he’s got that whole girl in a refrigerator thing going against him. Then a few years of writer’s not knowing what to do with him, from his stint as Ion and other lantern rings, etc. Eventually someone will find a place for Kyle.
In my film idea, Kyle would be the earnest wide-eyed optimist rookie. A guy you can’t help but root for. I’m seeing someone like Steven Yeun take on the role, and who couldn’t help but root for Glen. Hey, no one said he can’ be Asian. Being half Asian myself, I think it works for Kyle.
Kyle is a dreamer and an artist. He’s providing the heart to our story. But he won’t be alone. He’ll be the rookie, but like I noted above, he’s gonna be riding with his training wheels on with Kilowog in tow.
Too bad Uncle Phil is no longer with us. His Driving Examiner in License to Drive would’ve been the perfect voice for Kilowog. But that’s what I’m looking at now. I have no dark horse pick for Kyle. I want Glen. So I’ll give my pick for Kilowog instead to wrap this up since he’s the other half of this pair.
My pick for Kilowog would be Ving Rhames. He’s completely CGI so you just need an authoritative voice. Come on, tell me you couldn’t hear Marsellus Wallace saying Poozers. That deep voice is perfect for this. Listen to any Arby’s commercial, “We have the Meats.”
Active Listings: Plenty of copies available on this one. It’s from the 90’s after all. Sure you can grab a CGC 9.8 for around $120 or so. Raws are anywhere from $13 – $40. But honestly, if you dig you can still find these Emerald Twilight books in dollar bins. Sure this one is the toughest to find for a buck since it is a 1st appearance, but it’s not impossible.
Market Analysis: Eh, prices seem up as well but not nearly at the rate of the others. Again the 90’s mass produced so many titles. Especially a big even book like this one.
Ok that’s it for this week. I realize I did things a little bit different and didn’t give you much talk about the books. But you know who these Lanterns are, so you don’t need me telling you why these issues were important. Plus wasn’t it just fun to look at this Green Lantern movie fantasy draft? Tell me your pitch, and give me your picks for who you want to see ring slinging.
I promise to consider your selections before I tell you you’re wrong.
Now it’s time for another double shot for Last Call.
1st appearance of Kilowog
Well I just gave you my casting pick for Kilowog, so it’s only right that I give you his 1st appearance as well. This book expanded the Green Lantern mythos as it started of the Green Lantern Corps title run.
Kilowog has the potential to be a fan favorite if handled well. And look at that cover and see some of those random Lanterns I mention that I want to see. Arisia, Ch’p, and Salaak. Give them some screen time people. World building.
Typical Sales Data:
CGC Census 9.8 – 79
Who says a Free Comic Book Day giveaway is worthless. Look at those Umbrella Academy’s. But this New 52 kickoff book is the 1st appearance of Simon Baz. While he isn’t featured on the cover, that is a strike against this book.
Simon doesn’t make my first movie pitch, but he would show up down the line partnered up with Jessica Cruz. She got a whole article of her own a while back, so go there for her debated 1st. So for now, Simon will just have to wait with Jessica for their turn.
Typical Sales Data:
CGC Census 9.8 – 17
…No Evil Shall Escape My Sight.