Ever since Richard Donner’s Superman hit the big screen in 1978, Hollywood has been trying to find the perfect formula for a comic book based money making franchise.  As they scoured comics books for workable characters and plots, Hollywood found itself stumbling more than soaring to the top of the box office. Why? Because once a movie became a hit, they lost focus. No longer was retaining the spirit of the characters a key factor anymore, it all came down to the bottom line: money.

Batman, under the direction of Tim Burton, started off as a great success. But as soon as Warner Bros. looked to make it more “mainstream” under the guidance of Joel Schumacher, it became a joke and ranked as one of the worst superhero films of all time (Batman &Robin). Daredevil starring Ben Affleck wasn’t super painful to watch, but the Elektra spin off with Jennifer Garner was ulcer inducing. The Hulk starring Eric Bana and directed by Ang Lee, and The Incredible Hulk starring Edward Norton and directed by Louis Leterrier (who also made Transporter 1 & 2 and shitty Clash of the Titans re-do) were disasters. Ghostrider couldn’t be salvaged even with the help of Nicholas Cage’s impressive hairpiece. Thomas Jane’s eyebrows made me lose my focus in The Punisher. X-Men was serious miscast (Wolverine is 5’3″). The Wolverine spin-off added insult to injury, WTF. And The Fantastic Four only made think of antonyms for the word “fantastic.”

Newer versions were better. Like Batman, Spiderman and Iron Man started off strong. Spiderman’s allure was aided in large part by Willem Dafoe’s performance as the Green Goblin, because Tobey Maguire has no real allure. And Iron Man 1 was a good story with comic relief, while Iron Man 2 turned into a cheese fest and just another Hollywood vehicle for more spin-offs like the Avengers movie.

The reboots of both Superman and Batman saw a resurgence  of interest in comic book influenced films due to Christopher Nolan and the bar he set in regards to character growth and development. Let’s see what kind of heat he’ll bring in 2012 with The Dark Knight Rises.

2o11 has seen Thor (better in 2D, thank you Kenneth Branagh)and X-Men First Class (January Jones should have been a mute mutant) take charge of the box offices with Captain America and the Green Lantern still to come. And with the latter opening in theaters this weekend, one can only hope that Ryan Reynolds’ Hal Jordan is worthy of the Green Lantern’s power…

And if  he isn’t, don’t worry because  the book “Constructing Green Lantern: From Page to Screen” by Ozzy Inguanzo (Universe) definitely is. Everything from story line to set design, to figuring out the right hairdo for Mark Strong aka Sinestro and constructing Peter Sarsgaard’s big fat head, is all nerdily broken down and all laid out for you to enjoy by Inguanzo, the movie’s researcher and film’s resident expert on comic books and conceptual artwork produced from the film.

And for those looking to impress other comic book geeks this weekend, the book has a breakdown of all the movie’s “other” Green Lanterns. But if you get punched in the face for saying “No you idiot, everyone knows that’s Galius Zed, not Naut Kei Loi.” it’s your own damn fault.

Get ready to recite the oath this Friday:

“…and I shall shed my light over dark evil. For the dark things cannot stand the light, The light of the Green Lantern!” – Alan Scott (original)

“In brightest day, in blackest night, no evil shall escape my sight. Let those who worship evil’s might beware my power, Green Lantern’s LIGHT!”. “- Hal Jordan (revised, with a more sing song approach)

*Thanks Brisa and Rizzoli/Universe for the great book!

*GREEN LANTERN and all related names, characters and elements are trademarks of DC Comics. All rights reserved.