Screen Themes — Deadpool vs Green Lantern

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It’s time for some superhero action as entertainment editor John Turnbull checks out a Ryan Reynolds double feature with the adults-only blockbuster Deadpool and the much maligned Green Lantern.

Deadpool (2016) directed by Tim Miller

Deadpool tells the story of mercenary Wade Wilson, a bad man who now and again does good things for money. After falling in love with beautiful but damaged hooker Vanessa (Morena Baccarin), Wade discovers he has inoperable cancer and submits himself to the experiments of dastardly but handsome villain Ajax. The treatment is successful, curing the cancer and leaving Wade with the ability to heal any wound, but also disfigures him horribly, making him look like ‘an avocado who had sex with an older, grosser avocado’.

Ryan Reynolds first appeared as Deadpool in 2009’s X-Men Origins: Wolverine, but director Gavin Hood (along with writers David Benioff and Skip Woods) handled the character so poorly that most geeks gave up hope of ever seeing a decent Deadpool movie. But one man didn’t give up, and that man has been almost singlehandedly responsible for Deadpool making it to the big screen.

That man’s name? Ryan Reynolds.

The former Hottest Man Alive (parodied in the hilarious opening credits) has worked for over 10 years to bring Deadpool to the big screen the way it was meant to be, despite the suits at 20th Century Fox dragging their heels and greenlighting dreck like Fantastic Four while Deadpool languished in development hell. Eventually, Reynolds persistence paid off, and the result is unlike anything you have seen from either Marvel or DC to date.

Combining rapid-fire gags with bloody violence and a surprisingly affecting romance, Deadpool is elevated by a great support cast, notably the gorgeous Morena Baccarin as Vanessa and the relentlessly upbeat Karan Soni as taxi driver Dopinder. TJ Miller provides another layer of comic relief as bartender Weasel, while Stefan Kapicic and Brianna Hildebrand provide a link back to the broader Marvel universe playing X-Men Colossus and Negasonic Teenage Warhead.

With a sequel already in the works, Deadpool has been so successful at the box office that it may change the way big studios approach superhero films. The flagging Wolverine franchise will get a new lease on life with the excellent Old Man Logan storyline, and the upcoming Batman vs Superman movie already has an R rated DVD in the works.

A warning for parents; your 13 year old son may beg you to let him see Deadpool, but the MA 15+ rating is well earned —this movie is hyper-violent, features full frontal nudity and enough dick jokes to fill three lesser movies. It is also very entertaining.

Green Lantern (2011) directed by Martin Campbell

For those unfamiliar with the Green Lantern mythos, here’s a quick rundown; heroic test pilot Hal Jordan is given a magic power ring by a dying alien and is transformed into space-cop Green Lantern, who can make anything he imagines with his ring. Created back in 1959, Hal Jordan was the epitome of the square-jawed American male, a man without fear who became a founding member of the Justice League.

When a movie adaptation of Green Lantern was first announced, comic book nerds were optimistic. Christopher Nolan had recently reinvented Batman to near universal acclaim, special effects had improved to the point that a magic power ring and glowing green constructs might not look ridiculous, and with the impending launch of the Avengers it was the start of a golden age of comic book movies. With the charming Ryan Reynolds in the lead, a production budget of $200 million and former Bond director Martin Campbell on the job, things were looking pretty good.

Then the movie opened, and everything went downhill. Reviewers eviscerated the film, leading to a 26% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes. While the film did reasonably well at the box office with a worldwide gross of $219 million, it was still a disappointment for studio Warner Brothers and put the brakes on the development of a George Miller directed Justice League movie.

So what went so wrong?

Firstly, the movie is incredibly lazy, starting with the obligatory childhood flashback sequence. Origin stories have become a cliché in superhero movies, but Green Lantern aspires to little more, introducing a (far more interesting) cast of alien lanterns and quickly casting them aside in favour of big CGI space battles and earnest grimacing from Reynolds.

Secondly, Ryan Reynolds was miscast as Hal Jordan. While he certainly has a likeable charm, Reynolds pretty much always plays a version of Van Wilder, the goofy man-child who just wants to party. On the comic book page, Hal Jordan is cocky and arrogant, but in the movie he comes across as a childish, petulant dickhead, unwilling to accept responsibility or to do the necessary training to become a better hero.

Last, and by no means least, Green Lantern looks horrible. While good CGI can add depth and believability to a movie, the CGI in this movie is so bad that it genuinely made me feel ill. There are multiple poorly rendered scenes that drag you out of the movie and leave you wondering what director Campbell was actually going for — did he really his movie to look like a hastily produced Hanna Barbera cartoon?

The Verdict

While not for those with a sensitive disposition, Deadpool is a breath of fresh air in comic book movies, breaking convention as often as it breaks the fourth wall. Exciting action, laugh out loud jokes and a love story that actually brought tears to my eyes – first time director Tim Miller is definitely one to watch.

Possibly the only good thing about Green Lantern is Mark Strong’s performance as Sinestro, but unfortunately this talented actor is buried under a bad script and poorly rendered CGI. This movie was so bad that the impending Justice League movie may not even feature Green Lantern, and has many viewers nervous about the impending launch of a 2½ hour Batman vs Superman movie…

Deadpool: 9/10

Green Lantern: 2/10

Like what you read? John Turnbull''s books are now available on Amazon and Kindle. For about the price of a cup of coffee you can take a journey deep into the disturbed psyche behind columns including Screen Themes, Think For Yourself, New Music Through Old Ears and JT on NXT. There’s supernatural thriller Damnation’s Flame, action/romance Reaper, black comedy City Boy and travel guidebook Bar Trek: Europe. Check them out!

You can also follow John on Twitter @blackmagicjohn.

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