In terms of who suffered the most at the box office, “Green Lantern” technically wins because it globally grossed $219 million, while “The Flash” nabbed a worldwide cume of $268 million — a $49 million difference, which is nothing to scoff at. However, note that “Green Lantern” debuted over a decade before “The Flash” graced cinemas. When adjusted for inflation, the $219 million “Green Lantern” total is just shy of $300 million — a difference of nearly $30 million. It’s also important to understand the contemporary cinematic landscape and how it has evolved since 2011. Back when the “Green Lantern” debuted, the so-called golden age of superhero films, or “peak superhero” was still in its infancy. Marvel still hadn’t debuted “The Avengers” and DC was still in the early ages of building up its own cinematic universe.
Up until then, the only $1 billion-grossing superhero flick was 2008’s “The Dark Knight.” While The Caped Crusader’s dominance at the box office was an anomaly at the time, it certainly isn’t now. According to The Numbers, the average DC Extended Universe film’s worldwide total is $507 million. “The Flash,” which is filled to the brim with nostalgia bait, recognizable actors, and a compelling enough narrative grossing just over half of the franchise’s average is quite damning, showing just how poorly perceived the DC brand is in 2023.
Beyond that, “The Flash” has only grossed $108 million domestically to date. “Green Lantern,” meanwhile, boasts a larger domestic total of $116 million. Considering Michael Keaton’s debut “Batman” flick made $250 million stateside in 1989, “The Flash” should have been a nostalgia play like “Top Gun: Maverick” or “Jurassic World Dominion.” Instead, it fizzled, joining “Green Lantern” as one of Warner Bros.’ most notable misfires.