How many more of these superheroes can we take?
Repeated studies by psychologists and marketers have shown that, when confronted with a multiplicity of similar options in consumer products — say, two dozen brands of yogurt or peanut butter — people become overwhelmed and, rather than making a choice, do nothing.
That’s what’s going to happen with all these men-in-tights.
This weekend, it’s “Green Lantern,” which features a longtime stalwart of the D.C. Comics superhero stable. (“Lantern” is Warner Bros.’ attempt to get another comics franchise up and running alongside its durable duo, Superman and Batman.)
Of course, despite their super powers, not every unitard-wearer has what it takes to make the leap from page to screen. Remember Supergirl, Daredevil, Elektra, Batwoman, Spawn, the Hulk (a two-time loser!) and the Fantastic Four? (Granted, there were two FF movies and a reboot is possibly on the way, but that quartet was seriously yawn-inducing.)
“Green Lantern” doesn’t sink to those levels. It’s a ho-humly competent example of the genre, but despite all the supernatural, zipping around planets stuff going on, it never manages to make any magic.
The increasingly ubiquitous Ryan Reynolds stars as the special powers ring-wearing, world-saving title character. In regular life he’s Hal Jordan, an ace test pilot whose cocky swagger is a cover for his deep-seated fears, all stemming from when he was a boy and witnessed his father, also a test pilot, perish in fiery crash.
As the first human tapped to be a part of an elite galactic peacekeeping force, the Green Lanterns, it’s up to Hal to save Earth from the movie’s villain, Parallax, a fire-breathing, black cloud with a scowling face. Along the way, he finds time for some superhero training sessions in a galaxy far, far away and, here on his home planet, to romance Carol Ferris (Blake Lively, who actually shows a spark of promise), a fellow pilot and rising executive.
Director Martin Campbell (“Casino Royale”) makes sure the expected story beats all arrive on schedule, and Reynolds brings a lightweight, I’m-not-taking-any-of-this-too-seriously charm to the proceedings. But not for a moment does a single character on screen seem even vaguely real, nothing in the plot has consequence and there’s no deeper meaning (or even metaphorical symbolism) to any of this.
Which is exactly the point, many would argue. “Green Lantern” is a summer movie and it’s supposed to be loud, dopey fun and nothing more.
Yes, but. In the dark of a movie theater, all these superheroes are beginning to sound, look and act alike. So here’s my modest proposal:
Why not just put all these guys into one big Ultimate Fighting pit and let ‘em duke it out, “Hunger Games”-style?
The last one standing becomes the only superhero allowed to have his (or her) own movie franchise for at least the next 10 years.