Francois Duhamel
Jeff Labrecque
June 21, 2011 AT 09:03 PM EDT

Green Lantern grossed more than $53 million over the weekend, but in a business where the bottom line is often wrapped in easily-manipulated expectations, the DC Comics’ sci-fi superhero launch was considered a misfire that might not earn enough green to warrant a sequel. Critics inflicted the deepest cuts, branding the film with a paltry 41-grade on Metacritic, but even audiences were listless. According to CinemaScore, men, who made up a whopping 64 percent of the audience, liked the film even less than their female counterparts. That’s a problem for a comic-book film with franchise ambitions.

But if Hal Jordan’s future is uncertain, what of Ryan Reynolds’? Entertainment Weekly‘s cover boy and People‘s Sexiest Man Alive had been poised for superstardom since charming audiences as Sandra Bullock’s assistant in The Proposal, and Green Lantern was to be his official promotion into the big leagues. Does Lantern‘s performance and underwhelming reception ruin his breakout moment, or merely postpone it? Though a few pundits carped about his glib nonchalance, many of Lantern‘s harshest detractors excused Reynolds from the wreckage. “He’s the soul of likability,” wrote EW’s Owen Gleiberman. “Mr. Reynolds isn’t wrong for the job; the movie is,” ruled the New York Times.

Several experts agreed that Reynolds should use his superpowers in comedy, a genre he conveniently tackles next in The Change-Up, due Aug. 5. “Though he’s not able to harness the emerald energy of willpower to save Green Lantern from destruction, he’s also not at fault for the disaster,” said Slate. “He’s so good-looking that no one realizes how funny he is. Used in the right roles, Ryan Reynolds could develop into a comic actor with the timing of a Paul Rudd and the body of a… slightly hunkier Paul Rudd.”

Rudd is a good comparison, as is Vince Vaughn, who was once a star in the tolerable Jurassic Park follow-up The Lost World. All three actors worked tirelessly in supporting roles in a variety of genres before Hollywood finally recognized the obvious and built comedies around them. I don’t think Green Lantern ruins Reynolds’ hope for action-hero stardom — HELLO! IT STILL MADE $53 MILLION! — but if its cool reception gives him pause and causes him to retreat to another romantic-comedy, the universe would definitely be a funnier place.

What about you, PopWatchers? Does Green Lantern impact your anticipation for Ryan Reynolds’ next film? Does it help you clarify the types of films you’d pay to see Reynolds in?

Read more:

‘The Change-Up’ red-band trailer

A new generation suits up

Ryan Reynolds Q&A about ‘Buried’

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