Thursday Trailer Face-Off: The Green Hornet vs. Green Lantern


Welcome to Thursday Trailer Face-Off, a feature in which we cast a critical eye on two similar upcoming film releases, pitting them against  each other across a variety of categories to determine which is most deserving of your two hours. This week: The Green Hornet and The Green Lantern, two films about lesser-known characters from the comics canon—a couple of awesome regular guys who are thrust into superhero-dom by circumstances beyond their control.


Male Star Power
Ryan Reynolds and Seth Rogen actually have a lot in common: they both started out as 17-year-olds on TV (Reynolds in the Nickelodeon series Fifteen, Rogen in Freaks and Geeks). They’ve both had at least one notable TV role since then (Reynolds was one of the two guys on Two Guys, A Girl and a Pizza Place; Rogen starred in Undeclared). Both have been in some very commercially successful comedies (Reynolds’ The Proposal had grossed $163M against a $40M budget by December 2009; Rogen’s Knocked Up made $149M against a $30M budget by September 2007), as well as some projects they’d probably rather forget: Reynolds starred in National Lampoon’s Van Wilder (Party Liaison), yikes, and Seth Rogen was in the roundly panned You, Me and Dupree. Reynolds is coming off the well-received Buried, and has been one of People‘s Sexiest Men Alive for three years running; he’s also been tabloid fodder lately since announcing his separation from Scarlett Johansson. Rogen’s projects, though, are better-reviewed on the whole (think Superbad, Pineapple Express, and some of the animated films for which he’s done voice work). Reynolds may be the hunkier of the two, but Rogen brings home bank: according to RottenTomatoes, Reynolds’ films have made $653.3M at the box office in the last decade, while Rogen’s have made a whopping $1828.2B. Advantage: The Green Hornet

Female Star Power
Frankly, neither film has much to speak of—and that’s okay! We get that these are dude movies. Both films feature opening shots with lots of sexy extras—Rogen parties at The Standard (nice touch), while Reynolds hurries off after a one-night stand, telling the girl, “There’s water in the tap.” But as for female stars? Well, Cameron Diaz appears for about four seconds at 1:39 in the Hornet trailer, while Blake Lively shows up for about six seconds at 0:21 in the Lantern trailer. Diaz announces that she’s a secretary, while a little Wiki action informs us that Lively’s character, Carol Ferris, is an executive at an aircraft corporation—so we’ll give it to Lantern, for giving Lively a little extra screen time and some power, to boot. Advantage: Green Lantern

Supporting Cast
While Green Lantern features one of our very favorite serious actors, Peter Sarsgaard, The Green Hornet features two: Christoph Waltz and Tom Wilkinson. Plus, Taiwanese pop sensation Jay Chou (who plays Rogen’s sidekick) proves in the trailer that he has pretty good comedic timing—this could easily be exactly what he needs to cross over into the American consciousness.  Advantage: The Green Hornet

The Green Hornet
‘s Michel Gondry is responsible, of course, for one of the very best films of the last ten years: Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. His other work—including The Science of Sleep, Be Kind Rewind, and some mind-blowing Björk videos—has been consistently quirky and thought-provoking. Green Lantern‘s director, Martin Campbell, has proven adept at the action genre, with a couple of Bond films and a couple of Zorro films under his belt, but we don’t think anyone would call him an auteur. Plus, we’d be remiss not to note that the first film IMDb credits Campbell with directing is something called The Sex Thief, which, what?! Advantage: The Green Hornet

Special Effects
Gondry gets a couple of good explosions in, but they’re nothing compared to the space flight and Avatar-ish alien world we get a brief glimpse of in the Green Lantern trailer. This movie’s budget was $150 million, and they’re hell-bent on making sure you know it. Advantage: Green Lantern

Outrageous Plot Twists

Rogen’s transformation into a superhero comes after his father dies and he realizes he’s done nothing with his life. He declares that he wants to play thesuperhero game differently: “Here’s what will make us different,” he explains. “We will pose as villains to get close to the bad guys. That way no one will suspect we’re really the good guys.”  Reynolds, on the other hand, is a pilot who’s suddenly given a ring by a dying purple alien guy, and told to “use its power to defend our universe.” Advantage: Green Lantern

“Just when you think there couldn’t be any more cool things, a new thing comes out!” Rogen exclaims giddily in The Green Hornet, and the trailer is packed with them: he and Chou have a tricked-out car, some kind of gas gun, and enough other cool gadgets that we sort of lost track. Green Lantern has some airplanes, spaceships, and a magic alien ring, which are pretty cool—but require a little too much suspension of disbelief. The purpose of action-movie technology is to make the audience imagine what they’d do with it given the chance, and we know our limits. Advantage: The Green Hornet

America loves a good comic-book movie, and we wouldn’t be surprised if plenty of people turn out to see both films—twice. Plus, Green Lantern, originally slated for release last month, has been delayed until June, meaning there will be nearly six months’ distance between the two (The Green Hornet comes out tomorrow). Still, if you can only see one Green superhero movie this year, make it The Green Hornet. If Katherine Heigl couldn’t say no to Seth Rogen’s face, how can you?