GREEN LANTERN: 10TH ANNIVERSARY

FAILED SUPERHEROES WHO GOT A SECOND SHOT

RETROSPECTIVE REVIEW
By Jess Fenton
13th June 2021

In an industry where one false move, one bad meeting, one stupid tweet, one disastrous red carpet outfit can cost you your career - and one that favours money above all else - it's fascinating to realise that when hundreds of millions of dollars are at stake, sometimes a second chance isn't out of the question - or in some cases, even a third.

10 years ago, comic book-loving audiences were asked to hand over their hard-earned dollars to see 'Green Lantern'. Just two years earlier, star Ryan Reynolds had screwed the proverbial pooch with his portrayal of Deadpool in 'X-Men Origins: Wolverine'. Okay, so it wasn't really Ryan's fault, but as the face of the character, yeah, he copped it big time - mostly from himself. More on that later. So after that (major) misstep, one would think that lightning wouldn't strike twice. Reynolds was young, hot, a fan favourite... but if the movie itself is a stinker, all that means shit. With a budget of US$200 million, this superhero who sports a magic ring and a literal lantern only just managed to make its money back with a little extra at US$219 million globally.

But all was not lost. Reynolds met his future wife Blake Lively on set, and after being twice bitten, he learnt one damn good lesson - produce your own movies! Just a short five years later, 'Deadpool' the way it's supposed to be hit the screen and not just with a bang, but with an explosion. With just a quarter of the 'Green Lantern' budget, 'Deadpool' went on to make US$782 million worldwide and became the highest-grossing 'X-Men' and R-rated film... at the time. A sequel later and with a third on the way, Ryan Reynolds' darkest timeline has finally been quashed (See: 'Deadpool 2' post-credit scene) and his efforts rewarded. 'Deadpool' broke the mould and forged a new one in terms of marketing, getting a movie green-lit and showing the world what a superhero film can be instead of being told what it should be. Fans rejoiced.

But as it turns out, Ryan isn't the only lucky SOB who got two bites of the apple in search of a lycra suit that fits. Sometimes Hollywood knows talent when it sees it... and can even go so far as not blaming an actor for a film's failing. Crazy, I know. So let's see who else has had a shot at superhero redemption.

CHRIS EVANS
Johnny Storm/Human Torch    Steve Rogers/Captain America

Hard to believe, but Sony actually made two 'Fantastic Four' movies back in the early 2000s. Both sucked critically and commercially, and for unexplained reasons, we were supposed to believe that Jessica Alba and Chris Evans, two people of different ethnicities, were brother and sister. Because of the film's failings, Evans actually turned down (repeatedly) the role of Captain America when it was offered to him just a few years later. It wasn't until Robert Downey Jr himself stepped in to use his powers of persuasion to change Chris' mind. Over the course of eight years, Evans appeared in eight MCU films and garnered a legion of global fans before passing over the shield.

MICHAEL B. JORDAN
Johnny Storm/Human Torch    Erik Killmonger

With two shitty 'Fantastic Four' films under their belt, Sony couldn't leave well enough alone and decided to go again. In an act that no one saw coming (and by that, I mean everyone saw it coming), this 'Fantastic Four' starring Jordan as Johnny Storm (Evans' old role) cost more, made less and was far worse than its predecessor - plus it was plagued by production issues. Thankfully the studio saw fit to not even bother with a sequel; instead, we're going to have to suffer through a third iteration in the not too distant future. God help us. Luckily for Jordan - who may possibly be the most beautiful man on the planet - he is suuuuper talented, and when putting together 'Black Panther', director Ryan Coogler cast him as the titular superhero's antagonist. Michael absolutely crushed it, and there are rumours of a Killmonger spinoff... and now there are also hushed musings of Jordan becoming the new Superman. While that would mean a switch to the dark side - I mean DC - ya gotta admit he would fill and fill out that red and blue suit beautifully.

BEN AFFLECK
Matt Murdoch/Daredevil    Bruce Wayne/Batman

Affleck always dreamed of portraying the caped crusader and he was willing to hold out for the opportunity, but after being convinced by good friend Kevin Smith that they'll never do Batman again after the 80s/90s franchise, Ben said yes to Daredevil. Unfortunately (at the time) Daredevil underperformed across the board. Its 2015 TV incarnation starring Charlie Cox is far superior. It would take another nine years for Affleck's original dream to come true, but as we learned perhaps it should have stayed a dream. Batffleck has managed to come to life three times (with rumoured more on the way), yet the DCEU has failed to reach the heights of its MCU counterpart, in spite of a very loyal and dedicated following. Batffleck had its charms, and while Ben was able to do the Bruce Wayne side of the coin some justice, it was his Batman that let him down.

JARED LETO
Joker    Morbius

The Joker is comic books' gift to cinema. There's never been a bad one. Jack Nicholson, Heath Ledger, Mark Hamill, even Cesar Romero and his ridiculous painted moustache gets the thumbs up from me... that is, until Jared Leto came along. His penchant for method acting and David Ayer's vision being truly awful led to one huge cluster-fuck. Leto's casting was inspired... what transpired was not. The film turned the Joker into a gangster-pimp type thing instead of a good old-fashioned psychopath. In 2022, Jared will grace our screens for a little redemption in Marvel comic's adaptation of 'Morbius'. Something tells me he's going to nail being a vampire.

BRANDON ROUTH
Clark Kent/Superman    Ray Palmer/The Atom

In 2006, Superman returned to the big screen for the first time since Christopher Reeve in 1987. Taking a risk, the studio cast unknown Brandon Routh. And while he definitely had the looks, he just didn't have "it" to pull off the Kryptonian. Of course, Bryan Singer behind the camera didn't help. "Boring" was the term most often slung around upon the film's release, and hopes for the dawning of a brand new Superman franchise was gone. But there was still hope. Brandon has found superhero success on the small screen as The Atom in DC's TV universe, as well as occasionally reprising his Superman role when the multiverse factors in. Eh. He'll always be evil ex #3 to me.

SPECIAL MENTION: MARGOT ROBBIE
Harley Quinn   Harley Quinn    Harley Quinn

Ah Margot, Margot, Margot. I don't need to tell you that her Harley Quinn was the best thing to come out of David Ayer's 2016 'Suicide Squad'. The sheer volume of Harley Quinn-dedicated merchandise sold and Halloween costumes confirmed this. In 2020, she got her own girl squad to lead in a spin-off film, and of course, she was the first phone call when 'Guardians of the Galaxy's' James Gunn was handed the Suicide Squad reigns. DC knew they had a winner, they just didn't have the winner five years ago. We'll get to see how this one turns out later in the year, but the trailer has told us it'll be hand, I mean, interesting. 'Suicide Squad' managed to dominate the box office but failed to impress critics, while 'Birds of Prey' did the opposite. Fingers crossed Gunn can marry the two with 'The Suicide Squad'. Which each outing, Robbie still manages to shine brighter than the vehicle - which is a rare and coveted quality in an actor. My gut feeling tells me Miss Quinn isn't going anywhere anytime soon. I just hope to God she finally gets the film she deserves.

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