Earlier this week, Variety announced that Michael Goldenberg has been hired to pen “Green Lantern 2.”
My initial response was incredulity, but looking into it more deeply, I have some hope. The first “Green Lantern” had just wrapped production and it was only recently that I had seen images of Ryan Reynolds donning the emerald warrior’s costume. As it stands, “Green Lantern” is looking at a June 2011 theatrical release.
The preemptive move for the second film struck me as a brash contract on the part of DC Entertainment. Superheroes are natural franchise fodder. It seemed DC was so sure of the summer blockbuster model that they could already lock in talent for future moneymakers from the GL universe.
Taking a step back from an admittedly cynical stance on this, I realized there is an odd tension between blockbuster assuredness and franchise fidelity at the heart of the issue that demands a bit more exploration. Greg Berlanti, Michael Green and Marc Guggenheim scripted “Green Lantern” but Michael Goldenberg had done rewrites on it. His inclusion on the first project suggests, at the very least, a desire for continuity between the Green Lantern films. Ideally, we can take this as a commitment on the part of DC to a coherent, consistent franchise; a unified vision of the Green Lantern saga aided by a stable cast and crew. Constancy has been an issue for other major superhero properties. The Hulk is a banner example, running through constant rewrites, reboots and recasts over the last ten years.
The distrustful take on the announcement is contempt for the wash, rinse, repeat methodology of sequel-happy Hollywood that I mentioned above. My initial doubts led me to look up the credits for prolific screenwriter David S. Goyer, who was involved with the Nolan brothers in developing the story for “Batman Begins” and “The Dark Knight.” His rich host of superhero and science fiction scripts makes him a key representative for creative comic licensing at the movies. Goyer has an undeniable gift for bringing heroes to the screen but a quick glance at his prospective projects is somewhat alarming. He is attached as a writer to a full-length Magento film and a Superman re-launch. Additionally, he is involved in the development phase on a Ghost Rider sequel, as well as adaptations of “Y: The Last Man” and the Mike Mignola created “Baltimore, or The Steadfast Tin Soldier and the Vampire.
Bruce Wayne, Yorick, Clark Kent, Henry Baltimore. These characters run the gamut of heroism. Goyer is an expansive writer with the range and dramatic insight needed for such a variety of properties but his privileged spot in comics adaptation, particularly with DC characters, implies two things that should be carefully considered. On one hand, it shows an investment in quality. Goyer has been appreciated by audiences, critics, and, perhaps most importantly, producers so he’s entrusted with a great diversity of properties. The flip side of this is standard fare, big budget conservatism. As “The Dark Knight” makes clear, the guy fills seats. We can only read so far into the intentions of the people responsible for these comic book adaptations, but Goyer seems a safe bet. He’s able to keep a franchise healthy, making rich returns both critically and commercially. The obvious problem with this is that such a pragmatic approach to the business of adaptation is sorely limiting. The entire creative life of comics becomes reliant upon the imaginations of an elite staff of vetted writers.
The Goldenberg announcement is just one happening in a business of adaptation that is increasing with every summer. With the first “Green Lantern” only on the horizon, it’s difficult to judge the choice. What it offers us instead of critical insight is a reminder to remember the creators behind the films of this ever-expanding industry and to keep a watchful eye on the novel and dynastic choices steering these productions.
Tagged: big two · green lantern · ryan reynolds
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