As Marvel Studios continued to have early success in their shared universe between all the Phase 1 films, the folks over at Warner Bros. knew there was an opportunity for them to capitalize. After all, they had the rights to characters who were a great deal more well known to the mainstream than most of Marvel’s characters. Between the likes of Batman, Superman, the Flash, Green Lantern, Aquaman, and Wonder Woman, it seemed like there’d be no way for them to go wrong. Plus, coming off the heels of two amazing Batman films with Nolan’s The Dark Knight and Batman Begins, they had the good faith of fans behind them.
What could go wrong, right? Well, WB’s first foray into what they hoped would be a shared universe started with Green Lantern, a film that starred Ryan Reynolds as Hal Jordan. Sadly, things did not fare well for this film. Critical reception was morbid, but even worse, the film was a swing and a miss for fans as well. Sure, we can point to many reasons as to why the movie failed (terrible script, distracting CG, thin character motivations — just take a look at that post-credits scene), but speaking with EW, actor Ryan Reynolds expressed his reasons as to why the movie failed — especially when compared to another superhero film of his: Deadpool.
“Well it’s simple: Deadpool always knew what it was. With Green Lantern, I don’t think anyone ever figured out exactly what it was. That isn’t to say the hundreds of men and women didn’t work their fingers to the bone to make it as good as possible. It also fell victim to the process in Hollywood which is like poster first, release date second, script last. At the time, it was a huge opportunity for me so I was excited to try and take part in it. I did however write a letter to Fox right before I had to decide whether or not I was gonna do Green Lantern. I asked one last time sort of like the groom standing at the altar, ‘Will you please be my wife?’ and they said they couldn’t pull the trigger on Deadpool. For too many reasons too boring to illustrate, it just didn’t work.”
Indeed this seems to still be a problem with Warner Bros., as we’ve witnessed over the course of the past few weeks. A couple years back, they announced a slate of ten DC films, and since then, we’ve seen a slow decay of that very schedule as movies are pushed back, pulled, and added to an already-crowded slate.
Deadpool, on the other hand, in addition to having an identity, was one of those cases where a script was pretty much locked for years before production — a rarity in big budget productions, nowadays (which is ironic, considering the investment). Will Warner Bros. be destined to continue with these mistakes? It’s hard to say, as it’ll be at least another year until we see Geoff Johns’ influence.
All we can do is be patient and hope.