Let me just preface this by saying that I don’t know a ton about comic books, and anyone who has read this site knows that. So, though I know I’m asking for mercy from deaf ears, please forgive my mistakes. However, in researching Green Lantern ahead of the film so I wouldn’t make a complete ass of myself with the review (for a more comic-book friendly review, do read TK’s take), I ended up learning more about Green Lantern than I anticipated. And in doing so, discovered some fairly neat story lines and read about the Green Lantern script at various stage of development. Truthfully, nearly every other iteration I read about was not only better, but substantially better, than what ended up on the screen. And the thing is, though I loathed the film, I legitimately gained a lot of respect and fondness for the comic character through my cursory research.
Here’s what I learned about four iterations of The Green Lantern that we didn’t see.
Spoilers below, if you care:
1) The Original Draft: There were a ton of problems with with finished film, obviously, and from what I can surmise, one of the biggest problems — Carol Ferris — had been an issue all along, even before Blake Lively got involved. Another huge problem was that they attempted to cram in too much mythology into the opening film. In script form, that seems great: The idea that Sinestro, Carol Ferris, Kilowog, the Parallax, and Hector Hammond would appear might sound appealing. But, in the finished product, much of it was obviously forced into a bloated film that couldn’t contain it.
Believe it or not, the finished product was better than the original script in that regard: The original script also had Alan Scott, Guy Gardner, Legion, Gotham, and Clark Kent, in addition to what we saw in the film (minus Parallax). At the time that script was leaked, fanboys were fairly ecstatic with just the names being mentioned. But, again, what sounds good on paper doesn’t always translate well onto the screen.
In addition, the original script had Legion as one of the two main villains, instead of Parallax, but it was Hector Hammond who was the main villain. I have no idea why they decided to replace Legion with Parallax. In the film, Hammond is defeated by Parallax. In the original script, Hal defeats Legion and then defeats Hammond, but only after Hammond holds not just Carol Ferris hostage, but all of Hal’s family and friends (he had his sights set on destroying the entire city by crashing a plane into it with his telekinesis).
In either respect, as cool in theory as Sinestro was in all iterations of the script, he probably shouldn’t have been in Green Lantern or at least should have been reduced to a very small role to line himself up for a future sequel. His existence was too much, a nod to fanboys instead of a more cohesive story. (He’d be great in a sequel, assuming he wasn’t pink). Also, I don’t really know who Legion is (other than what I’ve read on Wikipedia), but I have to say: The description of him sounds much, much better than Parallax.
Granted, the original ending was super cheesy. Carol is trapped in a jet hurtling toward the city set to destroy it. Similar to the film, Hal gives up his ring to Hammond and because the ring didn’t choose Hammond, it destroys him, turning him into a vegetable. However, there’s no power left in the ring, so Hal can’t save Carol. But, Hal uses another plane to maneuver himself into position to save her, and as Carol and Hal are falling to Earth without a parachute, they kiss and the power of their love reignites the ring. Guh. Still, it’s slightly better than the film’s ending, which had the Parallax being sucked into the gravity of the sun while Hal escaped by holding on to jet airplanes (and with the ultimate help of Sinestro, et. al).
2) The Director’s Cut: There’s another interpretation of the movie that was actually filmed by Martin Campbell but left on the cutting room floor. A reader of ours, puppetdoug, left a comment explaining the original movie, and I did some research to confirm it. It sounds like a much better movie than what the studio gave us. Here’s his comment:
One thing I feel needs mentioning: this is not Martin Campbell’s cut of the film, but the studio’s. I live in New Orleans where it was shot, I read the shooting script, all of which was painstakingly filmed with intense research, and all of that was left on the cutting room floor — a sort of combination of what happened to Daredevil and Watchmen, respectively — character development sacrificed for CG, scenes made irrelevant by removing their setup. The movie in the theater starts with an explanation of mythos that is made redundant by the more natural, scripted questions from Hal when he gets the ring. Ten minutes of childhood Hal, Carol, and Hector that sets up Hal’s first ring construct is reduced to an awkwardly placed flashback in the middle of another scene. The training with the ring is almost completely excised except for one minor scene. Most appallingly, the ending completely deletes the fact that Kilowog, Sinestro, and Toma-Re arrive at the end and help Hal defeat Parallax. Not to mention Parallax was supposed to be a 3rd act reveal after we spend the film worried about Hammond going evil, not the main villain for the entire film. I sincerely hope we get a director’s cut or at least all the deleted scenes on the video release.
It did feel like Parallax’s presence throughout the film felt tacked on and out of order. Puppetdoug’s explanation resolves that. Would it have made for a better performance from Carol? No, but it would’ve been a cleaner more coherent story that placed more of the focus where it should’ve been, on Hector Hammond, instead of making him something of an afterthought.
3) The Comedy Script: The only iteration I can imagine that might’ve been worse than what appeared on screen was Robert Smigel’s comedic take on the script, which he wrote back in 2004. (Smigel, as you’ll recall, is a former “SNL” writer and the man behind Conan O’Brien Triumph the Insult Dog). The script may have been decent, but the Green Lantern would’ve been played by Jack Black, and I simply can’t get behind that. Smigel wasn’t exactly pleased with the idea, either, as he explained to Mike Ryan in an interview with Vanity Fair:
[I]f I were a diehard Green Lantern fan, I would have waited many years watching all of these other superhero movies like Daredevil get their turn and I would be very frustrated to hear that it’s finally going to be done as a comedy. I wouldn’t just feel screwed, I would also see it as a personal affront that the superhero that I’ve been worshiping is looked at as a joke. So I could see people being angry and I expected it. Whether or not it affected Warner Bros., I can’t answer that question. I assume they would have expected that people on the Web who care enough about the Green Lantern to write about it on message boards would object to the idea of turning it into a joke.
4) Conan O’Brien’s Find: Finally, and speaking of Conan O’Brien, he got his hands on an early cut of the film, and learned that Warner Brothers had never planned a sequel to the movie at all. You’ll understand why after seeing this clip (via Movieline)
Much better film, and it would’ve saved us from the absurd last hour.