Back in 2003, Mark Millar perpetrated a fairly brilliant hoax on readers of his column over at CBR. Remembering this item the other day, I got to thinking about what different comic movies would look like if they came out in the era when the character first hit the scene. Who would have played Superman back in 1939 or ’40? Would Ray Harryhausen have done special effects for a 1960’s Green Lantern? The mental exercise here assumes that the studios would treat the movie as big budget instead of the B-movie fodder that was typical of comic book movies prior to 1977’s “Superman.”
Part of what originally spurred this idea was seeing Rod Taylor in “Time Machine” and thinking what a splendid Hal Jordan he would have made back in the 1960’s. After all, the 1960’s were all about space cowboys; a Green Lantern movie would have been an easy fit once the director got over the technical challenges. For my money, as serious scifi movie of that time should have been in the capable hands of Robert Wise (of “The Day the Earth Stood Still). His blend of drama, action, and science fiction are a perfect fit for a GL movie. As mentioned above, creating the verdant special effects would have been best handled by Ray Harryhausen. Costumes would naturally have been handled by the First Lady of Fabrics, Edith Head.
For Hal’s supporting cast and villain, the 1960’s were full of faces and actors that fit perfectly in these roles. For starters, every hero/ space cowboy needs a villain. For the most part, that spot has been taken by Sinestro. The calculating and elegant mind could best be expressed by David Niven (see the original “Pink Panther” or “Guns of Navarone”). In someways the conflict between Hal Jordan and Sinestro is the conflict between the brash and the refined. David Niven screams refined.
Next up is the love interest: Carol Ferris. In Carol, you need someone who is strong and forceful yet feminine; She’s Hal’s boss/ sometime girlfriend after all. It’s got to be someone who can wear the pants or the skirt equally well. For my money, no one wears pants like Patricia Neal. Look her up in “Operation Pacific” and see how she holds her own against John Wayne.
Finally there are the Guardians of the Universe. They’re allegedly modeled after David Ben-Gurion… minus the blue skin. Eli Wallach and Ernest Borgnine could handle the role of guardians quite well.
It would have been interesting to see a Green Lantern movie in the 1960’s. My guess is that it would have been more story driven than the computer generated orgasm that we will see next year. I do have hopes for next year’s movie all in all though.