Fatherly Fear: Or It Ain't Easy Being Green

When it was announced that Warner Brothers would be making a Green Lantern movie, it was pretty much a given that I would be at one of the first showings. When it was announced that Ryan Reynolds had been tapped to play the lead role of Hal Jordan, it was also pretty much a given that my wife, Ashley, would be shoving comic geeks out of the way in order to get a good seat. Because the family and I were traveling back from our annual trek to Pennsylvania, making it to the opening night wasn’t possible. However; Ashley was still able to knock a few stringy-haired, pimply faced, lifetime virgins to the ground this past Friday on her way to securing the best seats for ogling Ryan’s rock hard abs. (There was some pouting over my refusal to pay extra to see them in 3D.)

Lest you get the wrong impression, let me say up front this post is not a review of the movie. There are a gazillions of them already out there, few of which are very flattering. When it comes to comic book movies (especially of DC characters), I go in with low expectations, hoping to be surprised; instead, I focus on the basic story line. So, in the case of the Green Lantern (*spoiler alerts*), I looked past the questionable casting (*cough, cough* Tim Robbins), the awful acting (*cough, cough* Blake Lively), and the poor plot development (moving right along). If you can ignore these things, then the movie otherwise wasn’t half bad.

The kids liked it at least. (My youngest son, Sawyer did a fist pump and whispered “yessss” when Hal finally kissed love interest, Carol Ferris at the end. –Not exactly sure how to interpret this, but whatever.) One of the things I found interesting, though, was each of the kids’ reactions to what they interpreted as scary both in the film and in the thirty minutes of movie preview shown beforehand.

Every time Green Lantern nemesis, Hector Hammond and his bulging, oversized head filled the screen, my stepdaughters, Allie (9) and Avery (7) would cover their faces. “Now I know why you don’t want us watching scary stuff,” Allie said to me as we got up to leave. This coming from the girl who is entranced by ghost hunter reality shows. Of course she and her sister had no problem with Colin Ferrell as a vampire in the upcoming remake of Fright Night (“He’s hot,” they both agreed. What the hell?), and they nearly squealed themselves into a euphoric stupor at the sight of big snakes, “Death Eaters” and the perpetually nose-less, yet allergy free Voldamort as they wreaked havoc in the final Harry Potter installment.

Sawyer wasn’t quite as enthusiastic. “I am NOT going to watch that,” he announced, bolting straight up in his seat. “Evo-we time I watch Hay-we Potter it fweaks me out!” Transformers 3, on the other hand, was a different story. Forget Cars 2. That’s for babies. Apparently, fifty-foot, monster robots that can hide in your house disguised as a toaster ovens waiting to attack the second you drop two slices of Wonder Bread inside it is what the 6 year old boy crowd is into these days. Okay, but If there’s as much cussing in #3 as there was in #2, then the little guys is going to have to settle for the antics of ‘Mater and McQueen.

By the way, why does Michael Bay feel the need to add “A Michael Bay Film” at the end of his movie previews? If a skyscraper is crashing into another skyscraper in the heart of downtown Chicago while fighter jets weave in and out between buildings amid earsplitting explosions, all part of an epic battle against gargantuan alien beings sent to take over the earth, then I’m pretty sure no one’s going to mistake it for a Woody Allen flick.

Noah was not impressed, even by all the military hardware in action. “That’s going to be so stupid,” he said after the narrator informed us this was a Michael Bay film. I leaned forward and asked him why. “That guy doesn’t even have the same girlfriend in this one,” he responded. Logical. Considering that Noah shares my cynical leanings, and because his 12 year old body is being flooded with raging hormones, I understood where his head was at on this one. Right now, he’s got an entirely different thing to fear—-girls.

Harrison (9) didn’t seem to have an opinion one way or the other on any of the films. He seemed more preoccupied with the fifty pounds of candy he had crammed into the pockets of his cargo shorts. By the time the movie started, I’m guessing he had eaten close to his body weight in Tootsie Rolls. Still, all that sugar didn’t affect his ability to focus on Hal Jordan and the origins of the Green Lantern.

Throughout the past week, Harrison has been the most excited about seeing this movie (well, except for my wife, but her reasons were completely different). The handful of Green Lantern Corps actions figures and hardware he had to play with probably had something to do with that (Ashley couldn't keep her hands off of them either), but regardless, Harrison declared it his favorite movie as we left the theater. Other than that, he didn’t say much else.

Harrison is a carefree kid for the most part. But even though he can appear to be having a great time, his brain may be churning over something on much deeper level. Sometimes I forget this, and he’ll catch me off guard like he did as I tucked him to bed after coming home.

“Dad,” he said in a quiet voice.. “I’m scared.”

Coming from a boy covered in covered from head to toe with bruises and scratches garnered from such fearless acts as using tree branches to swing back and forth across four-foot deep ditch, I was more than a little curious as to what he’d be afraid of. “What are you scared of, buddy?”

He stared down at his covers for a few seconds. “That you’re gonna die.”

This wasn’t what I was expecting, and yet I knew where the idea had come from. In the movie, one of the defining moments for Hal Jordan was witnessing his father die in a plane crash, this, right after his father said in the preceding scene that as a test pilot “it was his job not to be afraid.” KABLAMO! The event is what prevented Hal from being totally fearless—the essential quality for being a Green Lantern. This is the internal conflict central to the story that Hal must confront, which of course he does in defeating Parallax, an evil super villain that grows stronger by feeding off of, what else—fear. Hal nearly dies in the process, but is rescued and subsequently honored as a member of the Corps. The end. Stop at restroom. Load van. Drive home.

That would be Parallax feeding on someone's fear

For me, sitting there on my son’s bed, I was at a loss for words to reassure him with. “Son, I don’t want you to worry about that happening to me.” Movie dads seem to have all the answers. I, however, am not a movie dad. I live 1,300 miles away from my sons for ten months out of the year, and in the two months that I do get to see them, I have to jam in as much fatherly "wisdom" as is possible hoping that it sticks in their brains when they’re gone.

With one son mere months from being a teenager the realization that all of my kids are soon going to be faced with serious issues and they’re going to need real help. For my boys in particular, because of the current geographical circumstances and other divorce-related factors, that need is even greater. A few weeks back this was on my mind as I walked through the house, when a sudden question made me freeze. “Am I enough for my kids?”

Knowing everything that could happen to my kids, this terrified me, but not as much as the answer: No. No I am not enough. I am human. I will fail them. And yes, I could even die without warning, leaving them to deal with much of life on their own. From this perspective, there is a lot of room to doubt myself. When I screwed up that one time way back when, will they hold it against me? Will they feel like I wasn't there for them when they needed me? Will they blame me for the divorce when the fallout from the family separation becomes too frustrating for them?

These thoughts crush me. They freak me out, and I start to overcompensate, or worse, become depressed because I can’t overcompensate. Then I turn apprehensive , and eventually become emotionally unavailable being too wrapped up in my own issues. I hate the idea of not being enough for my children, and yet, there’s no way around it either.

What I have to remind myself of though is that, despite all the doubts, fears and circumstances, I am still by far the best option my children have available. No one will love them or care for them more than me (and their moms). No one wants the best for them like me. No one will work harder for them than me whatever the situation.

After I told Harrison not to worry about me dying, he followed up by asking, “Why?”

“Well,” I explained. “Because we all could die at any time, but if we keep thinking about it, it’s just going to make us sad, and then we might be too sad to have any fun doing stuff together. Kinda like the Green Lantern. He almost didn’t get to be a superhero because he kept thinking about his dad dying and it made him too afraid to try. Make sense?”

Harrison glanced at the wall and then back at me. “Yeah. I think so.” He smiled.

The Green Lantern may not have been a perfect movie. It might not have been a Michael Bay production. And the hair tussle I gave Harrison was probably lacking in comparison the one performed by Hal Jordan’s father minutes before being flame broiled, but if nothing more, the movie had a simple message I could use in talking to my son about his fears and for reflecting on my own as a parent.

* * *
In compliance with FTC regulations I have to disclose that Mattel supplied me with the Green Lantern toys. I probably was supposed to do a product review or something, but I don't do those. I tell stories. And I have a weakness for free superhero toys which probably makes me a sellout. Mehh.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Ads Section

Ads Section

  © Blogger templates Newspaper by Ourblogtemplates.com 2008

Back to TOP