The Jack Black ‘Green Lantern’ Movie That Almost Was

Many people have heard about Kevin Smith’s version of the Green Hornet. A decade ago another comedic genius tried his hand at Green Lantern.

Vanity Fair recently sat down with Robert Smigel (wrote for SNL, Conan O’Brien and You Don’t Mess With the Zohan) to talk about his foray into superheroes and how he got Jack Black to agree to don the green ring. If you’d like to read the script, it’s available here.

Sounds quite a bit further into comedy than Kevin Smith went with Green Hornet, but the Superman stuff reminds me of Smith’s “Hornet hiding behind a rock” bit. Here’s the highlights of the interview:

What appealed to me about it on a comedic level was that, in order to be a superhero, this requires no physical skill or talent. All it requires is owning this ring. Automatically, that’s a comedic premise.

I did a lot of research. You know, I only knew Green Lantern on a very superficial level and I had seen a few cartoons as a kid and I was aware of it. I never had read the comics, so I immersed myself in Green Lantern comics from every era—partly because I wanted to take the world seriously. It wouldn’t be funny unless the actual legend and the world of Green Lantern were accurate.

They said, “Write it with Jack Black in mind.” He wasn’t attached at all. I know him—he’s done a few of my autism benefits—so I asked him if he was interested, and he actually said that he wasn’t. He wasn’t really interested in doing any type of superhero thing. After I wrote the script, he read it and did want to do it. So, to me, that was the validation I take from the experience. I turned Jack around enough that he wanted to do a movie.

I was writing sequentially and it got to this thing of a [yellow] asteroid headed toward Earth. So his idea is: “Oh, I’ll just push Earth out of the way.” He does it and people are trying to tell him not to do it, but he had gotten really cocky at that moment and he does it and then, of course, there are natural disasters all over the planet. It’s something he can only fix by reversing time so I thought, Oh, yeah, he could just conjure up Superman, because he’s seen that movie. [Laughs.] You’ve run out of abilities, so you conjure up the best superhero that exists and let him solve the problem. Then the whole sequel could just be him sitting around watching the green Superman do everything. The laziest Green Lantern in history.

The studio, when they gave me the re-write notes … at one point I had a long discussion about whether or not to make it Green Lantern or whether to create a make-believe character. They were already asking me, “What if it’s not Green Lantern? What if it’s very similar, but you change it and make it a fictional superhero so we can make that a straight comedy?” Maybe foolishly, I argued that I thought it was funnier to make it a real take on a real cartoon character. That was the first time I sensed that they were rethinking this, and I’d like to think that it wasn’t because they didn’t like my movie.

Source: Vanity Fair

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