Kermit the Frog sang "It's Not Easy Being Green," and this weekend in theaters Ryan Reynolds will find out just how true that statement is as he tries to make Green Lantern fly at the box office. Green Lantern has always been one of the most obtuse comic superheroes ever concocted—he has a power ring that enables him to create anything he imagines out of green energy—and the movie pits him against a villain named Parallax that is, for lack of a better description, an amorphous dark cloud with a mean face that sucks the soul right out of you.
Audiences will have to decide if Reynolds wrapped in a green energy suit is enough to get excited about. In the meantime, check out four of Green Lantern's cinematic forbearers on DVD and Blu-ray that show just how not easy it is being green on-screen.
Hulk: Critics dragged director Ang Lee over the coals in 2003 for his thoughtful, arty haiku about the angry green superhero known simply as Hulk, but the movie deserves another look on either DVD or Blu-ray. Why? Eric Bana is intense as the duplicitous David Banner, Oscar-winner Jennifer Connelly gets emotional as the only soothing force that helps Hulk transform back into Banner, and Lee's mimicking of comic book cells in his scene transitions is cool looking and reverent of the source material. Never mind that Hulk looks like Shrek on steroids or that Nick Nolte turns into a giant blob that does battle with our green hero at the end…just like in Green Lantern.
The Incredible Hulk: Although meant to be a reboot, not a sequel, of Lee's Hulk, 2008's The Incredible Hulk starring Edward Norton as Banner and Liv Tyler as Betty Ross can almost be perceived as a direct follow-up if you look at it a certain way. Lee's movie ends with Banner in the Amazon warning people "not to make me angry." In The Incredible Hulk, the origin story about Banner's initial exposure to the gamma radiation that turns him into Hulk is dealt with in the opening credits and we then cut to Banner, who is hiding out in a soda-bottling factory in Rio de Janeiro. This Hulk 2.0—also available on both DVD and Blu-ray—got much better reviews and made more money than Lee's, but Norton won't be coming back as Banner in The Avengers or subsequent sequels after talks broke down.
The Green Hornet: The titular character here originated in a 1930s radio program and, even back then, demonstrated the difficulty that comes with being a green hero. Seth Rogen plays Britt Reid—a wealthy newspaper publisher who becomes the masked crime fighter The Green Hornet when he is not busy putting the playboy moves on his secretary (Cameron Diaz) or tooling around town in his tricked-out car Black Beauty with pal Kato (Jay Chou). Reid comes up with the idea that he and Kato should pose as criminals so they can infiltrate the criminal underground and not risk the safety of innocents, leaving yet another green hero with a public perception problem. The Green Hornet is available on DVD, Blu-ray and Blu-ray 3D.
Shrek: The Whole Story: Mike Myers voiced the mean green ogre known as Shrek in the four animated films. Shrek doesn't want to hurt anybody, but he's a surly green giant who just wants to tromp around in the swamp unbothered. Peace is difficult to come by when a chatterbox donkey voiced by Eddie Murphy is following you around, however. Throughout the four movies, Shrek marries his ogre bride, Fiona (voiced by Cameron Diaz), and becomes king, confronts a bigoted fairy godmother, fathers ogre triplets and battles Rumpelstiltskin. It's not easy being misanthropic—especially if you are green. Shrek: The Whole Story, which contains all four films, is available on both DVD and Green-, er, Blu-ray.