By Aly Semigran
Updated June 20, 2011 at 12:00 PM EDT

There’s a number of theories as to why Green Lantern, the big screen treatment of the comic book hero, underperformed at the box office this weekend. The effects are too cheesy; the superhero, unlike Batman and Spider-Man before him, wasn’t as well known; or Ryan Reynolds, despite being a charming and likable star, wasn’t the right fit for the part.

While the film did finish first at the box office over Father’s Day weekend, it brought in a rather underwhelming $53.2 million — the movie had a reported budget of $200 million and other comic book films in recent years have fared better. The figure is widely considered a disappointment.

Not if you ask Warner Bros., though. “We’re very happy with it,” says Dan Fellman, head of the studio’s domestic distribution. Fellman cites the film’s “very respectable” CinemaScore of a “B,” and its healthy grosses on Father’s Day (the film took in $500,000 more on Sunday than early projections had indicated) as signs that the film had a stronger showing than media coverage suggests. “Rushing to judgment is easy to do,” he says, “especially when the movie is not well reviewed.”

Indeed, the project has had a target on its back since last year’s Comic Con, where Warner Bros. debuted footage that garnered some negative buzz thanks to worried fans who didn’t love what they saw. It was when the negative reviews from critics starting rolling in, however, that the fate of Green Lantern may have been sealed for good.

Hunter Camp, a writer for the comic book-savvy website, told EW, “A lot of people that I’m familiar with had high expectations going in to it [and] those last minute reviews started to make them second guess themselves.”

Camp, who said he “enjoyed the movie, despite its flaws,” noted there were still too many things that kept it from being a smash with all moviegoers. “The movie itself lacked in a lot of [ways],” Camp told EW. “It had four plots that didn’t clearly intersect [and it] didn’t do enough to tell the audience why the Green Lantern is an important hero. Superhero movies are flooding movie theaters recently, so [they] to have something that makes it stand out, or people will just move on to the next one.” critic Grae Drake, who gave Green Lantern just two stars, had a similar theory as to why so many moviegoers/comic book fans felt let down by their emerald-suited hero. As Drake, who said she foresees Green Lantern being all but pummeled by Transformers: Dark of the Moon at the box office in the coming weeks, put it to EW, “It’s not a bad film, it was just lacking what the comic book had: Imagination and action.”

But don’t count Green Lantern down for the count just yet. In fact, despite its lackluster response thus far, this could turn into a franchise. “This may very well be our next version of Hulk,” Drake theorized to EW, adding that like the 2003 film pf the Marvel Comics hero which disappointed and eventually got rebooted with a new cast and director in 2008, DC Comics are “desperate to keep saving [the Green Lantern franchise].”

Even Harry Medved of doesn’t think it’s all doom and gloom for Reynolds and co, even though he alerted EW last week that Green Lantern was pulling in 7 percent of last Wendesday’s (June 15) sales on their site, while Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows–Part 2, a movie a month away from its release did 52 percent of their business.

Medved said Fandango users are giving the film a solid “go” rating (on par with Cinemascore’s just-fine B-score from the 18-and-older set) and thinks that with schools being let out for the summer, younger audiences, who have been kinder to the film, could drive up sales for the flick. Medved says that while the Green Lantern returns “weren’t off the charts,” he’d still call it a “modest success,” and that it’s too early in the summer season “to say the [box office] race is over.” (Additional reporting by Adam B. Vary)

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