I’ve finally caught up watching both Green Lantern and X-Men First Class movies. Both have been doing very well at the box office, but both have been reviewed very differently via their critics. GL is sitting at 27% on Rotten Tomatoes, while XMFC is sitting at a comfortable 87%. Given that both movies came out weeks between one another, I figured it would be a good idea to ask myself, and you, “Which one is better?”
My Initial Take
I’m a huge X-fan, so it surprised a lot of people I knew who found out that I did not see it on opening night. Why? From the first announcements of the cast, I knew this was not going to be a normal X-Men movie. I mean, Azazel as an adult with Mystique as a child and friends to Xavier? Alex Summers with no Cyclops? Riptide? Really? What happened to Darwin? It was a confusing mess from the get-go in my already established X-Continuity mind. As the movie came closer, I figured the movie would end up being an action flick with the X-Men names attached to it.
With Green Lantern, I had no idea what to expect. I mean, I love corny movies, so a 27% was not going to sway my opinion on the movie. Most people seemed to dislike it because the plot was too simple. Well I loved the 80’s Transformers movie – and I argue that it’s way better than Bay’s recent romp of films. But looking at it, it’s a terrible movie done right. That was my expectation for Green Lantern after hearing the reviews from it come in.
Brace yourself for very minor spoilers ahead.
GL stayed pretty close to the source material. Hal Jordan was a pilot whose father died when he was a boy. He’s arrogant and Abin Sur gives the ring to Hal. I don’t really have to go into full-detail about the movie, but in a nutshell, GL was superiorly closer to the source material than any X-Men movie thus far.
But I digress: Which movie is better?
Better at what though?
For me, Green Lantern nailed the origin story. Although there was not a lot of time spent on Oa (and I wish there was), viewers could get the gist of the story without having read a comic before. In fact, you could probably pick up a GL comic now (for the most part) and really get a good grasp on what is being told solely because the movie was that easy-going to its viewers.
The movie did fall flat on a lot of dialogue though. In a nutshell, it was Hal Jordan saying, “I’m not afraid. I won’t be afraid. I’m no longer afraid.” In fact, that was pretty much the bulk of the movie. It moved at a slow pace but ultimately came out triumphant in capturing what Green Lantern is. To top it all off, the effects were fantastic.
I loved the final battle scene with Parallax and really enjoyed the time spent on Oa. The scenes where Hal trained with Kilowog and Sinestro were spectacular. Actually, every scene with Sinestro was well done. My only beef was how Ryan Reynolds looked in the costume. It never really did look right – but it’s minuscule when you look at the grand scheme of effects used in the film.
Despite its PG-rated goodness, the film gave us a true portrayal of Hal Jordan. It just did it in a very basic, arguably too simplistic, of ways.
First Class received a PG-13 rating, and justifiably so. The violence is a lot more real, the language gets foul, and Emma Frost hardly wears any clothing. What it also gains is a more mature story. And no, I do not suggest PG-13 movies are better than PG ones. This is just my lazy segue into X-Men First Class.
Taking viewers to the 1960’s, we get a young Charles Xavier, Erik Lehnsherr (or Max Eisenhardt, for you hardcore fans), Mystique, Havok, Banshee, Darwin, Angel, and various others mutants compiled into an intriguing and unique story about the Cuban Missile Crisis and who was really behind it all. And you know what? It works.
For a movie not about anything ever seen before in the X-Men comics, XMFC takes the characters we know and puts them into something entirely different. XMFC takes the undertone of prejudice for mutants and throws them directly into the time where the Western World was on the brink of war. With two major conflicting ideas, the movie forces us to ask about compassion and to justify violence. Indeed, both Xavier and Magneto are the catalysts to both ideals, but the viewer is indirectly asked to make the choice themselves. Green Lantern has none of these deep undertones to it. Any that are suggested in GL are blatantly told to you, (“Don’t be afraid” “Have courage”) while little is left to the imagination of what the movie is really about.
Does that make XMFC a better movie than GL? Of course not.
Another way to look at this is from what I mentioned before with GL. If you saw GL, you can pick up a comic and understand the character or what has happened in the comics rather easily. X-Men is a whole new ball game. There is no way one could read an X-Men comic after seeing the movie and try to compare the two. The only thing XMFC shared with the X-Men comic stories were the character names and some of their powers. Sebastian Shaw had a energy feeding ball of energy, while Darwin *spoiler* could not even keep himself alive for more than ten minutes of the movie. If you’ve read about Darwin, you know that killing him is practically impossible.
When comparing both GL and XMFC, GL succeeds tremendously to sticking with the source material, while XMFC did anything but. Quite literally, XMFC could have been any movie with any characters from any series of anything. However “X-Men” was tagged on to it, and thusly, it must be an X-Men movie, despite not being anything to do with X-Men, right? I don’t know.
I mean, with DC’s reboot around the corner, and X-Men already having multiple universes with Ultimate X-Men or Age of Apocalypse, should it matter if XMFC followed the story or not?
Is X-Men First Class a better movie than Green Lantern because it had a better story? Or is Green Lantern a better movie because it followed the source material?
What do you think?
Keep on Space Truckin’!