Green Lantern: First Flight jumps instantly into the thick of things, and I am not hyperbolic when I say they blast through the typical Green Lantern story in under five minutes. In this instance, it’s a wonderful thing.
If you read our review on Justice League: The New Frontier you would know that for all intents and purposes, the leads of that film are Green Lantern and Martian Manhunter. New Frontier, while definitely a Justice League film, is more so an origin story for Green Lantern. I was apprehensive to check out First Flight because I didn’t want to be subjected to another Green Lantern origin.
The good news is the origin bangs out in literally four and a half minutes. Lauren Montgomery directed both First Flight and New Frontier and had this to say:
And that’s exactly what happens. Hal is introduced and meets Abin Sur to become the Green Lantern before the five minute mark. Boom, intro credits.
It’s really incredible how quickly and pointedly they get Hal Jordan’s character across. I tried to immediately rewind only seconds into the film. I actually thought something was wrong with my copy because literally the first lines of dialogue completely threw me.
Jordan (Chris Meloni), an ace pilot, flies his jet and communicates with the control tower; specifically to Carol, the woman he’s obviously bedded. He reminisces over a hot mic about their romantic times together much to her horror and the other air traffic controllers judgmental delight.
Right off the bat we’re shown that Hal is a selfish womanizer, self-aggrandizing, and a little obtuse. In broad strokes, we’re given Hal’s distilled personality in a nutshell.
Very quickly Hal earns his ring, and is whisked away to the Green Lantern planet to meet the elitist race of Guardians, who look like if the Smurfs fucked a bunch of little old dudes with a splash of Thanos DNA.
These little shits are suuuuper racist, too. They instantly trash Hal and threaten to rescind his ring because humans are too untrustworthy. Luckily the stand-up Green Lantern by the name of Sinestro offers to take responsibility for the fledgling officer, and train him himself.
Keep in mind that this is only, maybe, seven or eight minutes into the film and here’s where it picks up and turns into 2001’s Training Day but in space. Hal Jordan is the perfect Ethan Hawke-esque rookie cop with wide eyes to Sinestro’s version of Denzel’s hardened, crooked and self-enriching veteran who skirts the rules.
Once Sinestro takes Hal under his wing, the movie pretty much focuses on him. It’s a Green Lantern movie, but Hal Jordan is pushed to the side and mugs for reactions. This is, by all accounts, a Sinestro movie more than a Hal Jordan movie… and I’m okay with it. Oddly, so is Hal.
Hal is so jaded and blasé about all the weird shit happening to and around him. He’s just so down to be a space cop. Aliens, which have heretofore not been introduced on Earth? No big. Oh, you want me to stick my hand deep into this pulsing green ether emanating from this giant actual green lantern and think of a place I want to go? Cool. Hal is so game, that Sinestro wastes no time in immediately coloring Hal’s perception of the job to brainwash the rookie.
Sinestro casually brings up that he wanted to genocide an entire planet with a meteor shower which is, frankly, a giant red flag. He punctuates the story with “they thought I was joking” effectively doubling down on the red flags. He cavalierly shows Hal just how dirty he is and wordlessly asks “you down with this?”
Sinestro doesn’t even seem to be good at his job. All he wants to do is just… torture people and inflict pain, and abuse his space cop authority for some free space hotdogs or whatever. In the scene referenced in the image above, Sinestro interrogates someone for information on an alien by the name of Kanjar Ro.
Hal finally has enough and walks into the scene to destroy the torture device… but after five minutes of torturing. Ready to give up, they leave only to have Kanjar Ro literally run into them. This commences a pretty badass chase sequence that culminates in a sewer fight that Detective Stabler ultimately wins by hitting Kanjar Ro with a steel green lantern chair.
Sinestro delivers a super evil speech, bullies the shit out of Hal, and tells him to shut the fuck up about his shady dirtiness. Hal is knocked out cold, which gives Sinestro the freedom to first-degree murder Kanjar Ro. Sinestro blames Kanjar Ro’s murder on, you guessed it, Hal Jordan.
They return to the Green Lantern planet where the Guardians circlejerk over their confirmation bias about the shittiness of humans and strip Hal of his ring and powers.
As the Guardians chastise Hal, Sinestro sneaks into the morgue and reanimates Kanjar Ro’s dead body. Sinestro previously worked with Kanjar Ro in secret to create a new power battery to rival that of the green lantern battery, but the location of this new yellow battery died with Kanjar Ro. Now that Sinestro has the location, he can go retrieve his new weapon.
Hal, stripped of his ring due to “insufficient discipline,” wanders the halls of the Green Lantern space station with Kilowog and Boodikka and happens to walk in during Sinestro’s monologue.
Sinestro, accused of lying, keeps lying to try and talk his way out of his super fucked situation. Except SWERVE! Boodikka is evil as shit, too. Boodika betrays the Green Lantern Corps and Sinestro tries to kill Hal by conjuring a green lantern plastic bag around Hal’s head to suffocate him.
Hal, ringless, defeats Boodikka and she dies a violent death. Just before Hal takes Boodikka’s ring to go after Sinestro, he’s stopped by other Lanterns and taken to another trial in front of the Guardians.
Meanwhile, Sinestro has found the Yellow battery and fully transformed into the Yellow Lantern. Sinestro, now yellow, takes on the pursuing Green Lanterns and kills them with his newfound powers, and even manages to temporarily depower the Green Battery. All Green Lanterns lose their powers.
In a cool, but super dark moment, Jordan’s second trial is interrupted by the return of hundreds, maybe thousands of rings that belonged to those Lanterns in space when they were de-powered, and killed in the vacuum of space.
From here it pretty much devolves into your standard “two dudes punching the shit out of each other” for the rest of the movie. Hal manages to turn the Green battery back on, and overpowers the shit out of his ring to the point he becomes, like, super green.
After countless yellow punches, and countless green punches, Green Lantern punches the hardest and wins to save the day! All is well again, and even the Guardians have come around to the idea that not all humans are shitty!
All in all, Green Lantern: First Flight is a competent and weirdly dark story. It’s certainly more compelling than the live action Green Lantern that came out two years later starring Ryan Reynolds.