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Grumpy Old Fan | What Green Lantern could learn from Super 8

Hal's in the doghouse in 1984's issue #180

Poor reviews and mediocre box office for the Green Lantern movie, and news that aspiring genre films no longer need Comic-Con, may be combining to signal the end of America’s love affair with nerd culture. However, Super 8, director J.J. Abrams’ tribute to the Steven Spielberg movies of his youth, celebrates nerdity in a few different ways. Protagonist Joe Lamb is a middle-schooler in the summer of 1979 (a summer when yours truly was transitioning similarly from fourth to fifth grade). He collaborates with a filmmaking friend and does makeup for the latter’s amateur movies. On one bedroom wall is a poster of the yet-to-fly Space Shuttle, and on another is a reproduction of Detective Comics #475’s “Laughing Fish” cover (by the great Marshall Rogers and Terry Austin, of course). He builds model kits, and not just so they can be blown up for an inexpensive visual effect. Obviously I recognized a lot of myself in Joe, and just as obviously, I was not alone. More importantly, though, Joe’s nerdity is endearing, not off-putting. Contrast that with Green Lantern’s fidelity to its source material, which reinforces the expectation that superhero comics must lead rookies through mazes of dogma more easily navigated by longtime fans.

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