Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Chosen by the ring, chosen by God
Exclusive: Drew Zahn says 'Green Lantern' glows with biblical themes

Posted: June 19, 2011
3:24 pm Eastern

By Drew Zahn's column

Now in theaters, "Green Lantern" doesn't have the brilliant writing of fellow superhero film "The Dark Knight," the sharp dialogue displayed in "Ironman" or the acting chops of Marvel's "X-Men" – but that doesn't mean this newest comic book movie isn't a whole lot of fun.

Indeed, the predictable plot and storyline seem to be taken into account by lead actor Ryan Reynolds, who plays reluctant hero Hal Jordan (a.k.a. Green Lantern) with just a touch of heart and the subdued devil-may-care attitude that has made him a romantic comedy heartthrob, without the over-the-top schlock that fellow comedian Seth Rogen used to destroy another emerald superhero flick, "The Green Hornet."

Reynolds' resulting character is a just slightly rogue, but believably honorable superhero who is simply, inherently likable.

Furthermore, "Green Lantern" packs gorgeous 3-D technology (do not see this movie in 2-D, you'll be sorely disappointed) and fun computer effects to make this comic book adaptation leap off the screen.

Yes, I reluctantly admit the script and generally bland acting deserve criticism. But this isn't a movie out to win Oscars. Like an '80s television show (think "The Dukes of Hazzard" or "MacGyver"), the goal is pit the good guys against the bad guys, flirt with a pretty lady, blow some stuff up along the way and have a good time. To these less-than-lofty goals, "The Green Lantern" rises to the occasion.

"Green Lantern" also plays upon a pair of crystal clear themes, morals to the story that give the movie an inspiring, even biblical message.

In the mythos of the Lanterns, green is the color of "will," while yellow is the color of fear. The good guys, thus, wear green, while the bad guys wear … you guessed it, yellow.

Most of the film's messages, therefore, take aim at the destructive power of fear:

  • "Will is what makes you take action," a leader of the universe's many Green Lanterns explains. "Fear is what stops you, makes you feel weak. … Ignore your fear."

  • "You don't think your dad felt afraid," the film's female lead tells Jordan. "He found a way to defeat it. It's called courage."

  • "The ring didn't see you were fearless," she further tells him. "It saw you had the ability to overcome fear. It saw that you're courageous."

  • "Once you give in to fear, you never go back," Hal challenges his allies. "Don't give in to fear. Fight it. Fight it with me."

My only criticism of this theme is that movie claims courage in the form of strengthened will overcomes fear, while the Bible explains our will is insufficient to overcome fear. It is God who wills in us to act and to do (Philippians 2:13), the Bible says, and "perfect love" – not perfected willpower – drives out the yellow scourge (1 John 4:18; 2 Timothy 1:7).

But yet another theme of the film brings even more biblical truth to bear.

The ring that turns Hal Jordan into Green Lantern formerly belonged to an alien. When that alien died, the ring picked Jordan as the next to bear its power and responsibility.

But Jordan, who admits he's an irresponsible "screw up," is afraid he's isn't worthy of the honor and afraid he'll make a mess of things yet again.

The theme is strikingly similar to God's election of the saints (Ephesians 1:11-12), choosing the weak to shame the strong (1 Corinthians 1:26-27), gifting his elect to do abundantly more than they ever asked or imagined (Romans 11:6; Ephesians 3:16-21).

Are we worthy of being chosen? No (Ephesians 2:8). Can we ever live up to the choosing? Not by ourselves, not based on our track record; but our Redeemer sees something in us that He can craft for His purposes (Ephesians 2:10).

"The ring chose you," the other Lanterns try to assure Jordan. "The ring sees something in you that you do not yet see. … The ring never makes a mistake."

More than just a passing metaphor, Hal Jordan's transformation by a higher power that foresaw the hero he could become is grand finale of the film. It gives "Green Lantern" the glow of a redemptive message that helps it overcome its moviemaking faults.


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