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Luring ‘Normals’ To Superhero Movies

Filed by KOSU News in Art & Life.
June 20, 2011

Green Lantern made a disappointing debut in theaters, the latest film in a long summer of superhero movies that Hollywood hopes can save the day at the box office.

If they want to do that, they’ll have to draw what NPR’s Glen Weldon calls “normals” — non-comic-book geeks — into the theater. And they can have a tough time telling the difference between Green Lantern, The Green Hornet and Green Arrow.

And that’s part of the problem with Green Lantern, Weldon tells NPR’s Neal Conan. Long-standing fans know the story’s history, the details from the books. “When you transpose it directly and just simply upsize it without deepening it,” he says, it can seem “kind of hokey.”

Green Lantern is also a second-tier character who lacks the name recognition of a Superman or Batman. That means, says Weldon, movie makers can go wrong in two ways. They can try to appeal to the masses with a formulaic film they’ll understand anyway, largely ignoring the decades of backstory established in the comic.

Or, you can cater to the fans. “That’s a mistake,” says Weldon. “We’re going to see the thing anyway,” he says, “and we’re a fractious bunch. We can’t really agree on what we like,” and will come out disagreeing about something because that’s part of the fun.

X-Men: First Class succeeded where Green Lantern failed. It’s grounded by the performances of two actors, James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender. Fassbender in particular is “so charismatic, you can’t take your eyes off him.” Basically, says Weldon, “it’s a stylish film that kind of knew what it was.” [Copyright 2011 National Public Radio]

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