Posts Tagged ‘green lantern’

Here there be spoilers…

Halfway through the fun cosmic adventure that is Dr. Strange, I realized that the movie followed the same structure as the failed Green Lantern movie:

In the first 15 minutes, we are introduced to the charming but deeply flawed hero. Whereas Green Lantern gave us a likable actor in Ryan Reynolds, Dr. Strange gave us a likable Benedict Cumberbatch. But Dr. Strange gave us something that Green Lantern never did: A reason why the protagonist decided to “protag.” Like the comic book creators say in The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, “The question is why.” For Stephen Strange, his why is the same as Tony Stark and Thor Odinson: hubris. We never really get the “why” in Green Lantern. He just found a lantern and figured he’d become a super hero.

 

benedict_cumberbatch_as_doctor_strange

After the intro, both heroes are indoctrinated into a universe that is greater than the Earth they know. The GL Guardians can easily be substituted with the Ancient One and the rest of the sorcerers. They are a police force that protects Earth from otherworldly threats that the average person is completely unaware of.

They teach the hero how to bend reality to his imagination. They even give him a ring at one point. The hero goes through the stages of adventure, from denial to acceptance, and is soon kicking butt better than those who have trained for years. He faces off against the bad guy, who is just an appetizer for the cosmic, shapeless true evil. And his mentor turns bad.

Despite the parallels, Dr. Strange was a stronger movie. It wasn’t stuffed with characters, just enough to get through. There was only one computer-rendered character, and it was the end villain. Everything was grounded in an internal logic that explained why magic was OK. (And thank you, Marvel, for just saying it was magic, and not science or midi-chlorians or whatever.)

And finally, the fight scenes were unique to the movie. What I mean to say is that the action sequences could have only happened in this movie. In particular, the scene with mystic monks fighting while time is going backward was something I had never seen before and could only be done in this kind of movie.

What I learned: When people say that you can’t do something if it happened in another movie, you still can, if you do it better.

Other Worlds cover

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The only reason I haven’t seen Green Lantern yet is because the trailer was very…busy…

Parallax. Hector Hammond. Sinestro. The Corps.

I understand you’re trying to start a franchise, but this could be bad.

 

Green Lantern and all his amazing friends

When I first started collecting comics, I knew nothing about GL except what I learned from the SuperFriends cartoon. Then, without really reading the books, I learned that Hal Jordan got his ring when an alien crashed on Earth. That was good enough for me. Then, I learned that it was because Hal is fearless. OK, now I’m very interested.

Now, as I read a few Green Lantern graphic novels a year, I learn that Atrocitus the Red Lantern caused Abin Sur’s ship to crash. And that Parallax was contained inside the battery, creating an impurity. And on and on….

It’s almost as if all the new stories are actually backstories.

Yes, I’m very glad that they explained the weakness to yellow. Yes, I’m happy for the details being filled in.

But my question – not a criticism, really (This is the first time I’ve ever questioned Geoff Johns) – my question is how elaborate is too elaborate for an origin story?

How much of it is story, and how much of it is explanation? Can you sum it up quickly while still retaining its power?

Peter Parker was bitten by a radioactive spider which gave him spider powers. He failed to use his powers to stop a burglar. That burglar later killed his beloved Uncle Ben who always told him “With great power comes great responsibility.”

You don’t really need much more explanation than that for Spider-Man.

What I Learned: You have to keep the beginning simple. Make them want more.

I can’t say I’ve really learned this. I make this mistake all the time. I started a comic book with a time travel story, for crying out loud.

As a writer, you want to sink as much depth into your creations as possible. Then, you can’t wait to show your hand. But you’ve got to hold out, slow bet, up the ante, then go for the big reveal.

So, maybe what we should achieve in an origin story is a sense of wonder: We should be as wide-eyed and amazed as the hero. These wonderful/scary things are happening and we are just along for the ride. And we only learn as much as the hero does.

 

For the record, I like Kyle Rayner more than Hal Jordan. (Sorry!)

 

 

 

Disclaimer/background: I’m a traditionalist. I don’t think people should break rules of storytelling unless there’s a good reason. I write comic books, short fiction and children’s books. Just to put my comments in perspective, these are my interests and favorites: My favorite superhero is Spider-Man, and I also like Justice League and Batman. My favorite comic writers lately have been Kurt Busiek, Peter David, and Geoff Johns. I am a huge Transformers fan. In children’s books, I go either simple or meta: either really simple stories or books about stories. In movies and books, I am more impressed with something small that makes me feel something rather than something I’m told is a “must-read” or a must-see.”

I make silly videos and post them here:

http://www.youtube.com/user/verylittleknowledge

The Goldfish Principle.

A goldfish will grow larger in a bigger tank. If you have a small tank, or a crowded tank, the goldfish somehow regulates its size. In a larger tank, it grows enough to spread out. It’s an obscure piece of trivia.

Actually, I’m not even sure it’s true, but it’s a good metaphor for time management. A project will take as much time as you let it.

Let’s say you give yourself a month to write a Green Lantern fanfic comic book, it will take you that entire month. Because in the back of your head, you keep thinking “I’ve got ’til the end of the month.”

But if you give yourself a week. And really stick to that deadline, then you WILL get that project done in a week.

The best thing about that: You have three more weeks that month to write something else. If you gave yourself an entire month, than you’d only have one finished project to show for at the end.

Obviously, your goal has to be realistic. You’re not going to be writing an entire screenplay in a month. (Not if you have real job, anyway.)

And before you worry about quality and doing a rush job, what I mean by this is to write the first draft of something. You can always go back. Or, if it’s a considerably long project, you can cut it up into smaller pieces and decide that completion of one of those pieces, say, the first chapter of a novel, counts as one. I got a bunch of comic books written by writing one scene a day. (The blog on this is here: https://whatilearnedbywriting.wordpress.com/2010/05/)

I’ve worked as a reporter for years. We have firm deadlines. Maybe that’s what helps.

Last year, I put myself on a budget of doing something every week. This meant I would do one of the following: Send work out to a publisher, upload a video to my YouTube channel (http://www.youtube.com/user/verylittleknowledge?feature=mhum), or do a considerable amount of work on a project. Considerable = finishing a story, comic book, or a large chapter of a book. I made a calendar and wrote down every finished project. I turned out to be something like 21 over by the end of the year. So not only did I reach my goal, but I got extra stuff done as well.

Therefore, I keep my goldfish small and manageable.

Here’s a link to a very funny YouTuber, Shyaporn Theerakulstit, of 500 Impressions (In 2 Minutes) fame. In it, he challenges people to work on something every week. I probably got the idea from him.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ViNF6_3fHfU&feature=channel