Brightest Day, Blackest Night, Greenest BucksA column article, Mission: Professional by: Steven Savage
Dear Warner/DC - please exploit the living hell out of Green Lantern as a property.
I of course say this as, let's face it, it would be cool to see an onslaught of good Green Lantern Multimedia as long as it's free of things like Mosaic Puzzle Set for Kids. The Green Lantern universe is loaded with neat and interesting ideas, and there's many possibilities for fascinating media. Plus, with something this huge, analyzing it can be fascinating for those of us working in comics, films, media - or wanting to.
I'm writing this from a perspective not polluted by my own preferences like my LoSH column. I like Green Lantern stuff like I like Batman and other properties - it's cool but I don't get deeply into it. What I do get deeply into is the fact that this is a great example of something that can be transformed into a massive media sensation.
I'd like to think Warner/DC is planning to do everything I list here, but this is what I'd do if I was trying to find ways to make Green Lantern work as a multimedia property. We'll know in time if I'm brilliant or severely deluded.
My Basic Take is this: The Green Lantern Property has a potential to be a massive multimedia and merchandising hit (probably beating Legion of Superheroes in popularity and profitability, I'm sorry to say to my younger self). The movie is a chance to lay a cornerstone on a long-term, long-lasting series of intertwined properties. It can be one step in creating something huge.
First, let us look at the major advantages of the Green Lantern property.
|Hal Jordan concentrates on imagining a big pile of money.|
A Solid But Unified Theme: Science Fiction space knight-cops who fight with willpower and imagination? Easy to understand, fun to relate to, and all sorts of potential. It also is a nicely bounded concept that delivers stories and story possibilities, and the focus helps you market it appropriately.
A Giant Cast: The size of the cast in the GL continuity is enormous, from well loved characters to odd one-shots and jokes. It's a cast that includes squirrel-aliens, living planets, sentient diseases, and others created over the decades by various authors. If there's a character for something, some game, property, or story, its in there - or could be created. Or you can just put out a ton of figures (which seems to be the case with the film).
A Memorable Cast: The GL cast is huge but also has plenty of memorable characters, both heroes and villains. Fearless and dashing Hal Jordan, the lovable and tough Kilowog, the brave but tragic Katma Tui, and many other distinct cast members stand out in the huge body of GL work. There are enough well-fleshed out characters to build many stories and works around.
The Universe Is The Playground and Then Some: The entire universe is the setting for the GL stories, as well as the usual dose of time travel, other dimensions, and more. You can do most anything in the setting ...
So, the GL universe is big, fun, filled with colorful characters, and has a relatable theme that keeps the story focused. I consider it an odd counterpart to, say, my previous analysis of the Legion of Superheroes, which had the diverse cast and wide range, but tended to voyage far and wide in story type and content. This in a way makes Green Lantern even more of something that can develop into an effective media sensation, since the singular focus mixed with diverse cast is a best of-all-worlds-phenomena.
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So now what do you do with it? My take? Everything. The movie coming up is a chance to go crazy with GL material and establish it permanently in popular culture on a level like Star Wars.
The Films: Make sure they are good, interesting, and probably bound the series to a Trilogy just do you don't wear out your welcome. One of the dangers of a property with so many options is making them only about the films - and having them dominate your work, and thus when gone remove interest.
Go For Television: Batman: the Brave And The Bold was a brilliant show that mined the obscure and interesting corners of the DC Universe. The Green Lantern stories are this on conceptual steroids. You can keep regular cast members around and toss in all of the wonderfully diverse cast made up over the years - because let's face it, no small amount of the corps sounds like they were created as dares. A good GL series could go for quite a few years and maybe even visit some classic comic plot twists. This helps cement the GL property in the larger public's mind effectively, and can parallel the films. (As I understand it a TV show is under consideration).
Spinoffs Like Crazy: Novels? Got 'em. More comics? Go for it! The huge cast is an excuse to build a secondary media empire around the GL movies/TV show. From stories of Sinestro's early years to plush C'hips and Tickle Me Gn'ort, the opportunities are amazing. Give me a sim where I can play Mogo the living planet.
MMO: As of this writing the DCU Online game seems to be reasonably well received. The GL universe is a perfect opportunity for an MMO to launch (provided development starts early enough), and best of all the focused characters (everyone would be a Lantern) means development is probably a bit easier. Superheroic action, science-fiction elements, perhaps some open/changing world elements, and play on the success of DCU Online and you have a good chance for a solid, lasting spinoff property. One could eventually do expansions of various kinds (other corps, to allow PVP?) This is a chancy proposition, but I think has a 50-50 shot to succeed.
The big challenge? The big challenge is that for people to truly embrace a property it needs its own continuity, and the GL universe is tied to the larger DC story. You'd need to make sure a large, consistent, documented universe in the spinoffs and properties is maintained, and you may run the risk of "divergent" shorelines in games, shows, and the comics. you'd probably end up with a sort of "alternate" GL verse emerge out of this for the novels, TV, and MMO.
Can this work? I think it can. Warner/DC needs to plan carefully how to do it, get the right level of media saturation and product, and maintain. But done well... you'll have another property that is big, beloved, and with plenty of spinoffs.
Your biggest danger? It might take off on its own and eclipse other works...