First thing that comes to mind when I remember the Green Lantern movie is the contrast of the green and yellow colors along with a universal black background. Two main subjects come under the spotlight: fear vs. courage, treated herein, and the power of imagination which is left for when the time is right.
The producers intended to use these colors for their symbolism; according to the movie, the color green is used to represent that of will and the color yellow that of fear. However, if we reflect upon the chosen colors, we will find that the color green is associated to life, vitality and hence courage. The color yellow is that of fire and associated to fear. When you think of Parallax, the evil body in the movie, you might make the connection to the word paralyze. Isn’t fear paralyzing? The symbolism of the psychoanalytical school applies in this case with flying colors. (A parallax is actually a difference in the apparent position of an object viewed along two different lines of sight).
The battles taking place in space (the black background of the universe) between good (green) and evil (yellow) represent the opposing forces of the Yin and Yang. While most of us think that fear and courage are opposing emotions, just like chess players, they are actually complementary forces designed to incite us to grow.
Fear is needed to find the courage and push the boundaries and advance. It is also needed to preserve life. From this, we can conclude that there are two types of fear: justified fear like the fear of height and the unjustified fear like perceived fear.
Back to the movie, Hal (the hero), is first shown as cocky, reckless, immature and irresponsible. Those traits are vital elements to demonstrate the meaning of courage. They are associated to being fearless. Being fearless does not give rise to the opportunity of being courageous.
Fear creeps in, while crashing his F35 fighter jet, when he remembers how his father died. Finally!!! A spark of fear initiating the divine metamorphosis in our humanity.
Forwarding to the scene where Abin Sur hands him the ring. The scene is very symbolic: Abin Sur is that inner power inviting the hero to embrace responsibility and thus having the power (the ring) over his own life. All of this is designed to find courage. Subsequently, there are three prerequisites to courage – knowing fear, igniting our divine inner power and being responsible for our own life.
That inner power kicks in by itself when he was needed to make the oath. All of a sudden, he becomes determined and knows what to do. The atmosphere becomes emotional. It is in fact a very emotional phase, even euphoric, when we take responsibility of and to pledge allegiance to our life. At that exact moment, the divine opens up and we feel powerful, fulfilled and connected to the universe. We might also feel that energy is flowing through our body along the earth-heaven axis.
After his first punch in the parking lot, he gets wrapped in a green bubble; the bubble of life. He was wrapped in fear and excitement at the same time. That is life actually.
The symbolism continues as the green bubble of light takes Hal to the heavens – when we experience courage, we get reborn, we rise to the realm of the divine, it gives us strength and determination (maybe a funky color of green as well). The rebirth process is in action. The cycle of life and death embodied in the cycle of fear and courage.
Hal, consumed by the powers of Mana, is susceptible to destroy all the ground he gained so far. The eruption of the Mana figure in the conscious provokes an inflation of the latter and brings it back to a lower level. The Mana personality possesses a superior will and knowledge. Hal’s first liberation is at risk if he doesn’t subdue Mana. The second liberation takes place when he drops his overconfidence and understands the meaning of responsibility – responsibility lies in harnessing the power, and that is power by itself (modesty is the key). In other terms, the first liberation is embracing our inner power and the second liberation is harnessing this power (power squared).
In the aftermath of Mana’s onslaught, after the second liberation, a whole new world opens up by embracing the energy of courage, the energy of life.
The differentiation of the self from the archetype embodied by the Mana personality signifies the second liberation for Man. Hence the saying by Sinestro “Abin Sur, who’s light can never be replaced”. Although each one of us belongs to the collective power of the supreme, the differentiation or Jung’s individuation is also power, drawing from the supreme pool and contributing to its power.
One for all and all for one ~ Alexandre Dumas
Note that the name Sinestro descends from the word sinister – threatening or portending evil, harm or trouble. According to DC comics, Sinestro is a former Green Lantern Corps member who was dishonorably discharged for abusing his power. In this version, Sinestro gets consumed by the Mana personality (as if that wasn’t enough, he also turns yellow).
Speaking of Sinestro, at some point in the movie, he says: You must ignore your fear. When you’re afraid, you can’t act – you can’t act, you can’t defend – you can’t defend, you die!
Ignoring fear leads to witless actions. On the other hand, will power emerges when we feel fear, when we acknowledge its presence and when we embrace it as a part of nature. We then overcome this fear for the greater good and for the benefit of the self (inner growth) and/or for the benefit of the whole (collective growth). Mirroring these two concepts with the movie, we find that inner growth is established when Hal faces his own fears and grows into a responsible Man with meaning to his life and we find that collective growth is established on a grander scale.
Carol Ferris (Blake Lively), responding to the doubts of Hal, says: The ring didn’t see that you were fearless. It saw that you had the ability to overcome fear. It saw that you’re courageous.
If there’s neither fear and subsequently nor courage, the equation would be unbalanced and therefore courage would not be possible. The result to this equation is ultimately death.
Fear is mother to all primary “negative” emotions. These emotions (anger, guilt, sadness…) are very needed to complement and accomplish their “counterparts”. However, it’s better if it is used with right dosage, at the right time and the right place. Too much fear will consume us, just like it consumed Hector and Parallax.
If we look at the scene where Hector starts hearing the thoughts of his students in class, for example, we can see that excessive fear might transform into paranoia. This in turn will lead to inappropriate and unbalanced behavior. In a real situation involving fear, like a fierce lion coming your way, the typical behavior involves three reactions: flight, fight or freeze. The fear in this case is justified. On the other hand, being afraid of the idea of a kitten is an indication of phobia – excessive unjustified fear. Phobia arises from discrete pathologies related to developmental, apprenticeship and psychoanalytical theories.
Parallax, with the intention of taking over the world, starts devouring the souls of the weak. Can you imagine fear overtaking the whole world? Life will become extinct.
What happens if fear kills everything that existed? I guess it’ll get bored and will create courage somehow to challenge/entertain itself so it keeps on existing!
The battle ends when Hal gives the knockout punch to fear, by sacrificing himself for the greater good. That is double symbolic: giving a blow to fear and embracing death… the ultimate courage.
On a final note, the mind can be trained to fear things as it can be trained to be courageous regarding the same things. Always remember:
We are all heroes, in a subtle way, at least to our own story.
Articles coming soon:
 The power of imagination. The ring’s limits are only what you can’t imagine.
Phobias: what are they, where do they come from and how to treat them
In the making:
You are welcome to post a comment or feedback at any time within the comment section below.