Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Green Lantern Unmasks a Silly Superhero Trope

by Sara N.

Warning: Mild spoilers for the relationship storyline of Green Lantern.

First, you should know that Green Lantern isn't as bad as you probably heard it was. It's not one of the towering superhero movie achievements along the lines of The Dark Knight or X-Men 2, but it's certainly no Fantastic Four or X-Men 3.

And it's almost worth seeing the movie for one short scene that directly addresses one of the silliest tropes in the history of superheroes: the secret identity that somehow, against all odds, remains a secret.

Hal Jordan (Ryan Reynolds), having just saved the life of Carol Ferris (Blake Lively), appears on her balcony in his superhero duds. Wearing a mask and affecting a gruff voice to hide his identity, Hal tells Carol that he's come to check on her well-being. After about five seconds, Carol says, "Hal? Is that you? Did you really think I wouldn't recognize you if you covered your cheekbones?"*

Yes! Thank you! It's long been a joke that these caped do-gooders run around, barely covering the skin around their eyes (or not covering their faces at all), yet the people in their lives have no idea of their dual identities. It stretches the audience's suspension of disbelief, and it makes you wonder if all the people in the superhero's life suffered head injuries that affect their short-term memory. (I'm looking at you, Lois Lane.)

Here are a few examples of disguises, ranging from most to least useful:

Super secret identity: You're doing it right.

This is the minimum amount of face coverage before the whole secret identity thing becomes insulting.

Oh, Clark, you're not even trying!

"Seriously, sir, I checked  your coat for you. It's claim ticket 312."
Props to Green Lantern for addressing that silly trope head on. It added a touch of reality and common sense in a genre of movies known (affectionately) for their irradiated spiders, mutant abilities and vehicles that can fire Batdiscs or morph into motorcycles. Now if only, when Hal Jordan disappears and the mysterious green man appears, more people in the crowd would point and say, "Hey, didn't I just hand you a glass of champagne?"

*Lightly paraphrased. Sadly, my memory is only so-so.
Pin It


  1. "We grew up together! I've seen you naked! Did you think I wouldn't recognise you because you covered your cheekbobnes?"

    Or something like that...

    Props to Carol Ferris for having a brain and something to do. Why Blake Lively, though?

  2. Excellent memory, ita! That does sound right.

    And why Blake Lively, indeed. She wasn't super convincing as a tough fighter pilot or as a business savant, was she?

  3. How does he keep that mask attached? Glue? I'd be worried about sneezes.

  4. I'm sure true comic fans will correct me on this, but ... lantern magic?