Why the First Films in a Franchise Tend to Suck

Last updated on October 28th, 2011 at 09:44 am

So, before work this morning, I popped onto Rotten Tomatoes to see how Green Lantern fared in terms of film critics’ response. As of this writing, the “Tomatometer” is at 22% (with an average score of 4.4/10) with 93 critics panning the film and only 26 saying that it’s kind of awesome. Ouch.

However, audience ratings are quite a bit higher, with 82% (with an average score of 9.2/10), so it can’t be that bad.

I haven’t seen the film yet and, due to an insanely busy weekend, probably won’t until early next week, but I do have a couple of thoughts going into the movie that I’d thought I’d share.

Two predictions going in: (1.) Ryan Reynolds’ magnificant abs will make at least one appearance (probably more) and (2.) Mark Strong will play an awesome Sinestro.

Overall, my expectations for this film are extremely low. I mean, even if the film hits a home run, it’s still the first movie in what will probably be a series of movies. As such, there’s probably going to be a lot of (necessary but boring) exposition to establish the Green Lantern Universe. And, it has to satisfy not only comic book nerd but also the general audience who has never read a Green Lantern comic.

I mean, as much as I loved Batman Begins and X-Men, they will never be the best films of their respective series simply because of their function as the first chapter of a series of films and the introduction to a unique narrative universe. The sequels (The Dark Knight and X2: X-Men United) to these movies, however, are awesome simply because the previous films were successful in their function as the first chapter.

While Iron Man 2 seems to break from this pattern as it was still establishing its narrative universe (e.g., resolving Tony’s daddy issues). However, if you look at it as a part of The Avengers franchise, both Iron Man and Iron Man 2 take on the fuction of the first chapter. Collectively, they introduce us to the Avengers universe. Ostensibly, this makes  both Thor and Captain America: The First Avenger function more like sequels.

But I digress. It’s also entirely possible that Green Lantern will have the same issues as the Batman franchise had in the late 80s/early 90s and why Superman Returns sucked: DC Comics’ properties have difficult to adapt cinematically.

Shelley Smarz is a comic book scholar and business woman. Her morning was brightened by the simple act of Google Image Searching Ryan Reynolds’ abs. Her least favourite/most-hated comic book movie series is Spider-Man, but even she admits that the second film was the best of the series (thanks exclusively to Alfred Molina).  However, she is concerned about The Dark Knight Rises (as third chapters, such as X-Men 3: The Last Stand and Spider-Man 3, can only be described as cinematic abortions).

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  1. Charlie
    June 20, 2011

    I thought this film would be the big one of out of all the comic book films this summer but opening weekend thus far goes to Thor:

    Thor – $65.7
    X-Men – $55.1 
    GL – $52.7

    And bad reviews to boot. With all the hype and the biggest promos… what went wrong?

  2. June 21, 2011

    Movie studios aren’t interested in producing a movie: they want to produce a franchise.  I saw Green Lantern opening night and was…underwhelmed.

  3. Charlie
    June 21, 2011

    Thanks to George Lucus…

Make It Good.