Week 7 of EW’s 2011 Summer Movie Body Count continues with Green Lantern. For those of you who do not possess a green ring of power that can download information into your memory, here’s a reminder of the rules. SPOILER ALERT: Things are about to get messy!
In Green Lantern, the film’s big bad Parallax — a soul-sucking embodiment of fear itself capable of decimating whole planets — is responsible either directly or indirectly for 93 percent of all the on-screen deaths. That is quite likely the highest percentage of loss of life attributable to a single entity in a movie yet this summer, impressive considering how little screen-time the undulating cloud of yellow-tinted despair really had in the film. So let’s break it all down, shall we?
The film opened on a far flung planet — the Lost Planet, actually, which should’ve been our first hint that it housed a smokey villain. And indeed, three aliens who crash land on the barren planet quickly found themselves in a subterranean cavern where Parallax had been safely imprisoned, until he sucked up the souls of the trio and broke free. (If you’re like me, you kept waiting for this crash landing to be revealed as more than just a coincidental, plot-launching accident, but apparently even summer comic book movies aren’t immune to the existential vagaries of needless, random death.)
Next up, one of only two Parallax-free deaths: Namely, the father of our hero Hal Jordan (Ryan Reynolds), Martin Jordan (Jon Tenney), who we see in flashback was killed in a test flight gone horribly wrong — and right in front of his young son, no less. That’s gotta leave some emotional scars that will haunt him until he’s confronted with a life-changing amount of responsibility and power, right?
After his earlier confrontation with Parallax left him mortally wounded, legendary Green Lantern Abin Sur (Temuera Morrison) finally died in Hal Jordan’s arms once his Green Lantern ring had chosen Jordan to replace him. After receiving Abin Sur’s warning to his compatriots in the Green Lantern Corps that his killer was Parallax, Green Lantern Sinestro (Mark Strong) led a platoon of some of the strongest Lanterns in the Corps to confront Parallax. They lost. Although the implication is that most of them are killed, we only saw four Green Lanterns have their souls pulled from their bodies, so they’re the only ones who count.
All that soul sucking is exhausting, but fortunately fate brought the sad sack scientist Hector Hammond (Peter Sarsgaard) into Parallax’s clutches to keep the slaughter going. While performing an autopsy on Abin Sur, a drop of Parallax’s essence invaded Hammond’s body, transforming him into a vindictive telekinetic monstrosity. When confronted by fellow scientist Dr. Amanda Waller (Angela Bassett) and his senator father (Tim Robbins), Hector did not take it well. First he killed a medical scientist with a syringe to the forehead. Then he took out a half dozen guards: two guards were crushed by giant mechanical arms; four guards were electrocuted by their own taser guns. Hal as Green Lantern arrived in time to save Dr. Waller — I did wonder if his method, catching her in an imagined pool of water, could have inadvertently drowned her, but she was washed away before we could know for certain. (Also, once the water disappeared, would Waller be wet? The metaphysic possibilities are staggering.*) Unfortunately, Hal was unable to save Hector’s smarmy father, who was tossed like a rag doll into a confined room and then incinerated by his son.
Naturally, Hector’s bad behavior meant he was not long for this world either. After failing to kill Hal as instructed, Parallax sucked up Hector Hammond’s soul with nary a second thought. Then it was off to the poor citizens of Coast City — i.e. New Orleans, where much of Green Lantern was filmed, and a city that has clearly had it way too easy in the last few years.* I counted 11 random people whose essence joined the turgid mass of terror feeding Parallax’s wrath before Hal was able to beat Parallax back and lure him away from human civilization.
So that’s 29 deaths, and one more to go: Parallax him/her/itself, incinerated by our solar system’s sun after heedlessly following Hal into its gravitational pull. One final giant-green-fisted wallop by Hal, and the summer’s most lethal villain was no more. That makes for 30 total on-screen fatalities in Green Lantern, and since Mr. Popper’s Penguins safely escaped the Grim Reaper, our 2011 Summer Movie Body Count total is now 299. But how do Green Lantern‘s deaths stack up against the rest of the summer’s? Weigh in now!
*Strike that, reverse it.