One of the most promising comic-book movies in the pipeline right now is Green Lantern, and we've just gotten hold of a draft of the script. Written and directed by the creators of quirky TV show Eli Stone, and hopefully starring Ryan Gosling, it's the perfect swashbuckling space adventure. The story's main arc is pretty much a by-the-numbers hero's journey, but it works fairly well. The script's main problem is that it tries to shoehorn too many things from the comics into one movie, and there are way too many strokes for the fanboys. And here go the spoilers.
The script draft we read is dated June 9, 2008, and it's by the Eli Stone crew of Greg Berlanti, Michael Green and Marc Guggenheim. It's highly likely there have been some rewrites since then. Big thanks to TheUgly from TheHowlingMan.com for passing it along. If you've read a Green Lantern comic before, you can skip this paragraph. In the movie, as in the comics, Hal Jordan is an irresponsible test pilot haunted by the death of his father in a plane crash. And then a dying alien shows up in a crashed spaceship, and he bequeathes to Hal a fancy ring that can create stuff out of pure energy. Hal discovers that he's one of 3600 members of the Green Lantern Corps, which protects the universe from chaos. So how well does the movie do in presenting this storyline? Well, like I said, it's a bit cluttered. The movie borrows its basic storyline from the Green Lantern origin story "Emerald Dawn," in which an alien named Legion is killing the members of the Green Lantern Corps. Hal replaces one of the Green Lanterns killed by the alien, and then helps the Corps defeat Legion. Along the way, he stumbles a lot, and keeps trying to reject his heroic destiny and tell the all-powerful Guardians to take their ring and shove it because he's the wrong guy for the job. In the end, though, he defeats Legion by flying into the Lanterns' big central power battery and overcharging his own ring.
So what's the clutter? Well, there's a pretty sprawling supporting cast, including Green Lanterns Tomar-Re and the "drill sergeant" Kilowog (who needs to be there, probably). But as we mentioned before, the movie's main problem is that it shoehorns a second villain into the story. A scientist named Hector Hammond does an autopsy on the dead alien Green Lantern, and gets infected with a piece of the evil Legion. It transforms Hammond into a super-powerful telepath, who realizes that everyone around him despises him, including his father. (Hammond's father, by coincidence, is a former pilot and the guy in charge of deciding on funding for the airplane company where Hal works.) In the first draft at least, Hal helps to defeat Legion and then he, and the rest of the Green Lantern Corps, rush back to Earth to defeat Hammond. Hammond has read Hal Jordan's mind, so he knows Jordan's secret identity. And Hammond blames Hal for turning him into a freak, because he got these powers from the body of the dead Green Lantern. So Hammond decides to kill Hal's friends and family, and even destroy Hal's home town, by telekinetically flinging the airplanes belonging to Hal's employer. Yes, this time, it's personal. It's a bit of a letdown after the huge showdown with Legion, which feels bigger and more cosmic. There's something to be said for only having one truly unstoppable villain in an origin story. And the ending, in this draft at least, is seriously cheesy. Hal tricks Hector Hammond, giving Hammond his power ring. Hammond doesn't have the will power to control the ring's energy — or he hasn't been chosen, the script says both things — and so the ring overpowers him and he gets turned into a vegetable. And then Hal is out of ring charge so he can't save his love interest, Carol Ferris, from crashing in a jet that's on autopilot. Hal tries a fancy maneuver in another plane to rescue her. But they're still plummeting to Earth without a parachute. They kiss, and the power of their love recharges Hal's empty ring. The ring "SHIMMERS — DRAWING FROM ALL THE POWER IN THAT KISS!" And then somehow the ring has enough energy to fly them to Paris. Okay. Other random comments: Tons of fanservice: The big temptation, with comic-book properties that have been publishing for decades, is always to stick in too much stuff. And the GL script goes way overboard, including a glimpse of Clark Kent, a reference to Gotham City, a glimpse of future Green Lantern Guy Gardner, and a ton of other stuff.
When Hal is overcharging himself with green energy at the end, his temples go gray, "and a million fanboys orgasm," the script says. (Actually fanboys hated it when Hal's temples went gray in the comics.) When Hal is dueling Legion, he puts on a bunch of rings on his fingers, which is a nod to the crazay-Hal storyline "Emerald Twilight." One of Hal's main allies is a pipe-smoking guy referred to only as Pipe — until the end of the movie, where he's revealed to be Alan Scott, a former Green Lantern. There's a bit too much info-dumping about the all-powerful Guardians, the blue-skinned aliens who created the Green Lanterns (and, in this version, also created Legion.) Sinestro is great. Probably the best thing in the script is Sinestro, the greatest Green Lantern and Hal's mentor. Okay, he spews a bit too much new agey jargon about how the green lantern rings harness the pure power of "hope" and all life being connected. But he's got just the right blend of smugness and actual heroism. Lantern fans, of course, know that Sinestro is going to turn bad and become Hal's arch-enemy. And the script drops a few hints, with Sinestro frustrated by their difficulties in defeating Legion, a creature made of pure fear. (The Guardians tried to harness the power of fear first, resulting in Legion. When that failed, they turned to the power of hope, because why not? They were going to try ennui next, if hope hadn't worked out.) Sinestro wants his own ring that harnesses the power of fear, because he thinks it's more powerful than hope. But even though we glimpse Sinestro's wicked future, he's still sympathetic in this storyline, and at one point the script points out that he and Hal have the makings of a great team.
Carol Ferris needs some work. The other big problem with the script? Carol Ferris, the love interest. She's pretty close to her portrayal in the 1960s comics — and that's the big problem. She's one of the least engaging female characters I've seen in a comic-book movie script for a while. The daughter of Hal's boss, she's given up on all her fancy dreams of seeing the world because her dad needed her. (She, and most of the other characters in the movie, have been blighted by the disaster that claimed Hal's father.) She's been disappointed in Hal for years, but still secretly loves him. And he slaps on a funny mask, she suddenly doesn't recognize him and has a huge crush on his costumed identity. At the end of the movie, she becomes the classic damsel in distress, trapped in a jet on a collision course. She's occasionally bitchy and cold towards Hal, but never shows any actual strength or, I dunno, spleen. She needs more spleen. Someone get this woman a spleen transplant, stat. I had nightmares — maybe because I just watched the Hulk deleted scenes — that she might get played by Liv Tyler. Bottom line: Pretty solid, good introduction to the GL universe. Relies a bit much on the "hero's journey" cliches, especially all the stuff where Hal keeps trying to reject his destiny. Needs some serious de-cluttering and a stronger female lead. But yeah, not bad at all.