Ryan Reynolds Knows Why Green Lantern Bombed At The Box Office

Before both Marvel and DC created their respective expanded cinematic universes, "The Avengers" changed the way studios approach major franchises, and Christopher Nolan's "The Dark Knight" trilogy had even concluded, there was "Green Lantern." The 2011 box office bomb is a black sheep in the 2010s' superhero storm, often derided as an sloppy, corny mess that's more soap opera than space opera. Pre-"Deadpool" star Ryan Reynolds himself is keenly aware of how much of a mess the film is and attributes its critical and financial failures to an overzealous, overinflated special effects budget that eclipsed any drive to craft an engaging story with compelling characters.

The generic, soulless "Green Lantern" reeks of studio interference; the result of Hollywood executives looking to make a flashy, inoffensive product appropriate for mass audience consumption. Puzzlingly, Warner Bros. took the opposite approach it did with Nolan's highly auteurist "Batman" films and manhandled the film's creative team to fit its own corporate calculations. The CW's Arrowverse architect Greg Berlanti was initially hired to direct a script written by himself, fellow DC television creator Marc Guggenheim, and "Logan" scribe Michael Green. However, Warner Bros. got cold feet and replaced the creative team with people from the studio's successful non-superhero franchises. Michael Goldenberg, who filled in for the overcommitted Steve Kloves to write "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix," rewrote the script, and "GoldenEye" and "Casino Royale" helmer Martin Campbell took over the director's spot, both to disastrous results.

Not-so-special effects

It's not that Michael Goldenberg and Martin Campbell aren't talented creatives in their own right, it's that Warner Bros. hired the wrong folks to oversee a superhero movie. Studio decision-making drowned out any enthusiasm that the original team brought to the project, and the lack of passion is evident in the final cut. The cartoonish CG suits that the Green Lantern Corps members wear feel like Warner Bros. throwing money at the wall and seeing what sticks, which is exactly what the situation was like according to Ryan Reynolds. He told Variety:

"There was just too many people spending too much money and when there was a problem rather than say, 'Okay, let's stop spending on special effects and let's think about character. How do we replace this big spectacle thing — that isn't working at all — with something that's character based?' and that just never — the thinking was never there to do that. And to their credit, it's a very old school way of looking at things. It's just 'Let's just keep spending our way through this.' And that was — it didn't work."

"Green Lantern" was a casualty of wanton studio spending, an overcompensation for lacking a fully developed vision. Warner Bros. suffered for its own mistakes, losing an estimated $75 million when the film only raked in $220 million at the box office against a $200 million budget (and that doesn't even include all the promotional tie-ins). Ironically, a superhero whose powers are based on will and courage was the victim of a studio playing it much too safe.