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With Green Lantern currently underperforming at the box office (not to mention receiving a serious drubbing from critics), DC/Warner Bros. find themselves at a bit of a crossroads. The Ryan Reynolds superhero epic was meant to be DC’s Iron Man — the film that proves that they have characters beyond Superman and Batman who can carry their own blockbuster franchises. While a Green Lantern sequel is still likely, fans are understandably concerned about DC’s attempts to keep up with Marvel. If Green Lantern, Sinestro, Tomar-Re, and the rest are the first wave of second-tier DC heroes hitting the big screen, the comic book giant needs to make a few changes. Here are some tips for how DC can recover from Green Lantern using his power ring to make a toy racetrack.
Use Superman to introduce new characters
Why did Thor, a movie with a similarly dense comic book mythology, perform better at the box office than Green Lantern? Part of the reason was that audiences have been primed for some sweet Asgardian action ever since Agent Coulson discovered Thor’s hammer back in Iron Man 2. Marvel was smart to use the highly successful Iron Man films as a launching pad for their lesser-known characters, and DC would be wise to adopt a similar formula. While a character like, say, The Flash would be out of place in Gotham City, the upcoming Superman reboot is the perfect place to start building an onscreen DC universe. Green Lantern‘s Amanda Waller, who works for the S.H.I.E.L.D.-like agency Checkmate in the comics, could serve the same connective role as Agent Coulson does in the Marvel movies. (And more Angela Bassett is always a good thing.)
Get a Wonder Woman movie in theaters
Many have suggested that Green Lantern‘s failure is due to the fact that the average moviegoer has never heard of Oa, Sinestro, and the rest. Meanwhile, Wonder Woman is one of the few untapped icons in the DC Comics stable. Marvel spun Spider-Man, X-Men, and Iron Man into profitable franchises before even attempting Thor or The Avengers. Instead of focusing on second-tier characters like Green Lantern (and yet another Superman movie) DC/Warner Bros. should get back to developing a movie for one of their most well-known superheroes. It’s more than a little absurd that Punisher has received three movies while Wonder Woman sits on the sidelines.
Enlist edgy directors
With the exception of Christopher Nolan, Warner Bros. hasn’t exactly been thinking outside the box when it comes to directors for their comic book flicks. (The upcoming Superman reboot will be Zack Snyder’s fifth film in a row with the studio.) And while Green Lantern helmer Martin Campbell had a hit with Casino Royale, he’s a hit-and-miss studio guy whose filmography is workmanlike at best. Meanwhile, Marvel generally takes risks when it comes to their behind-the-scenes talent, whether it’s letting Jon Favreau inject comedic edge into Iron Man or enlisting Kenneth Branagh to bring Shakespearean grandeur to Thor. And what other studio would give Joss Whedon, a brilliant TV mind with only one big screen directing credit under his belt, the keys to a huge franchise like The Avengers? Perhaps it’s time Warner Bros. took a gamble on an up-and-comer. After all, the smartest move the studio ever made was to hand the Batman franchise to the guy behind Memento.
Swap out Hal Jordan for John Stewart in the Green Lantern sequel
Rumor had it that unknown actor Nick Jones, Jr., was going to cameo as John Stewart (no relation to the Daily Show host), an African-American architect and Marine who eventually takes over as the Green Lantern. But from what we saw, Stewart was M.I.A. (Let us know if you spotted him, sharp-eyed readers!) Stewart’s Lantern is a fan favorite for his role on the Justice League cartoon and in multiple Green Lantern comics. In fact, one could argue that his popularity in toys, comics, and cartoons has made him the most well-known Lantern of the past decade. Since Hal Jordan failed to connect with audiences, perhaps Warner Bros. should consider a sequel where John Stewart wields the ring. Or, failing that, put Blake Lively in a ridiculous skimpy purple costume for a Star Sapphire spin-off.