Having helmed a number of action-packed projects during his career that included James Bond reboots Goldeneye and Casino Royale, The Mask of Zorro and its sequel and the ludicrously entertaining and underrated survival thriller Vertical Limit, Martin Campbell is no slouch when it comes to crafting practical set pieces enhanced in post-production by the effects team.
However, the filmmaker bit off much more than he could chew when he agreed to helm Green Lantern, the latest DC Comics character getting the big budget live-action treatment during the first mid-2000s boom. A filmmaker with a solid track record for popcorn escapism behind the camera and charismatic star Ryan Reynolds in the lead should have been a surefire recipe for success, but it would be an understatement to say the finished product left a great deal to be desired.
One of the biggest box office bombs in history, Green Lantern earned just $219 million on a $200 million budget, losing the Warner Bros. a ton of money and becoming a punchline in the process. In a new interview, Campbell admitted that he was so far out of his comfort zone that he should have never made the movie at all.
“But you know what? The film did not work, really. That’s the point, and I’m partly responsible for that. I shouldn’t have done it. Because with something like Bond, I love Bond, and I watched every Bond film before I ever directed it. Superhero movies are not my cup of tea, and for that reason, I shouldn’t have done it. But directors always have to carry the can for the failures. What do they say? Success has many fathers, failure has one. And that’s me.”
It was six years after Green Lantern‘s dismal critical and commercial performance that Campbell finally made another film, teaming up with Jackie Chan and Pierce Brosnan for action thriller The Foreigner, which turned out to be a surprise success after hauling in $145 million globally on a $35 million budget, despite premiering on Netflix in several international territories.
Back on familiar turf, the 77 year-old has The Protégé releasing next week and recently wrapped Liam Neeson vehicle Memory as he continues to walk the beaten path as an action director, leaving Green Lantern in his rear view mirror.