Ryan Reynolds gave a taste of what fans can expect from him as Hal Jordan when he recited the Green Lantern Oath at Comic-Con International in San Diego this past weekend. Reynolds along with fellow cast members Peter Sarsgaard (Hector Hammond), Blake Lively (Carol Ferris/Star Sapphire), Mark Strong (Sinestro), and director Martin Campbell (Casino Royale) visited the massive pop culture event to meet with fans and stoke the fire of what should be one of the most talked about films next year.
This is the first feature film for a DC Universe character outside of its holy trinity. Green Lantern will be the origin story of the earth’s most popular human to wield the power ring. “There are five Green Lanterns and the Hal Jordan story is very-very clear and simple,” Campbell replied in response to how plausible the story is given the fantastic space element.
“He’s taken up to Oa, becomes Green Lantern; the ring works through willpower and the stronger your willpower, the stronger the construct of your imagination cares to create. I know there are many complex characters and all the characters from the origin story go on to the dark side in later comics but I think (the origin) is very straightforward.”
“Our script is a much deeper interpretation of that basic storyline (in the 2008 graphic novel, Green Lantern: Secret Origin),” Reynolds added. “DC Comics’ Chief Creative Officer and current writer of the Green Lantern comic, Geoff Johns described this thing as Star Wars in the DC Universe and I think that’s a pretty apt description. You have so much you can mine out of these comics and this character in particular.”
While Reynolds certainly looks the part, what was impressive in both the panel and pressroom was his confident understanding of the character that has been often described as the Chuck Yeager of the DC universe, a space pilot pioneer with incredible skill and bravery.
“This guy has a very distinct starting point, he’s a bit of a fractured human being, he’s seen some difficult things in life and watched his father die, and we move on to him later in life where he’s arrogant cocky and aimless. This extraordinary power that’s bestowed upon him that in fact that sets him on a bit of a humbler path.”
While not usually known for their depth, recent super hero films like Iron Man and The Dark Knight have raised the bar. Playing that transition and birth of a hero is part of the draw for Reynolds, as well as being the bearer of hopes and expectations. It makes running around in a black and green unitard in the middle of summer in Louisiana worth it.
“Anytime you’re dealing with a guy who faces something unbelievable or insurmountable to overcome it makes for an interesting story,” said Reynolds. “As an actor it’s an interesting and excellent thing for me to get an opportunity to play.”
This is the third costumed hero Reynolds will play after starring in Blade: Trinity and X-Men Origins: Wolverine as Deadpool, who will get his own film in 2012. “I don’t personally delineate too much between Marvel and DC and pay any heed to that supposed rivalry.” Reynolds said. “We live in a world in which the technology allows us to bring these kinds of movies to life, that they couldn’t even two or three years ago. The emergence of superhero franchises being more mainstream is the result of that. I never had that thought that, just because I was in a Marvel film, I can’t be in a DC film.”
While Reynolds is no stranger to superhero films, this is Campbell’s first. The closest he has come steering a ship with this much built-in audience was when he handled the James Bond franchise directing Golden in 1995 and Casino Royale in 2006. The latter was lauded for its gritty action, a quality fans are excited to see in Green Lantern.
“You want to stay out of the hospital as long as you possibly can during the shoot,” Reynolds joked, “But it is a Martin Campbell movie so you’re bound to be there once or twice. He pushes you pretty hard, and because of that the action in the film is so visceral. It’s rough, it’s dirty and it’s fast and you gotta be ready for it.”
Lively (Gossip Girl) plays Jordan’s long-time love interest and Ferris Aircraft’s Vice President, Carol Ferris who will eventually become an adversary of Green Lantern named Star Sapphire. Dressed in a revealing outfit, Lively described the style of her character’s look. “Costume Designer Ngila Dickson was very specific to make her relevant but not too modern. You didn’t want to connect to any specific time because you don’t want to date it. Just very classic column dresses with iconic strong businesswoman look.”
Sarsgaard plays one of the film’s villains, Hector Hammond, a biologist and college professor. He offered his thoughts of Hammond and how he wanted to portray the classic villain, “I thought of him as a dreamer in a lot of ways. Hammond’s quite interested in extreme environments on earth to understand creatures that live on other planets. There’s a fine line between science and wishful thinking. I thought about a lot of people who stretched our ideas with adding a little bit of creativity like Carl Sagan or Isaac Asimov; that sense of wonder about the world where you fill in gaps, which is what most scientists try not to do.”
Fans were polarized about the CGI-enhanced costume reveal on the cover of Entertainment Weekly released the week before Comic-Con, but were urged to wait and see it in action. The classic white gloves have been dropped due to its poor translation on camera. Reynolds has even described the white gloves make Green Lantern look like a valet parking attendant. Remember, he’s playing Deadpool, too. No footage of the suit in action was shown at the Green Lantern panel.
Since this is the origin, fans will need to remember that Sinestro will not be as big a villain as perhaps he may be in the future should there be a sequel. Strong who played the antagonist in Sherlock Holmes and Kick-Ass, shared his take on Sinestro, “Nobody is born evil. With Sinestro, you have to look at who he is, what he stands for and what he believes in. He is an incredibly organized, fearless, exponent of the Green Lantern Corps who believes he knows best.”
“He becomes mental to the newly minted human Green Lantern and basically guides him through his first steps and we deal with that process. I don’t think of him as a villain or even in a bad sense. He’s just an incredibly powerful presence who knows what he believes and wants to be right; if anything that causes him later on to spill over to the dark side it’s his unquestioning belief in his own rightness.”
Strong added, “Part of the story-line is that Hal needs to visit Oa, meet the other Green Lanterns and Sinestro tests him because he’s not entirely sure a human is worthy of being a member of the Corps. So there’s a sequence when Kilowog, Sinestro, and Tomar-Re puts him through his paces.”
Voice talent for other key roles such as Kilowog and other CGI-characters have not been determined yet since the release of the film is still a year away. Campbell explained, “The look of the characters (have to be worked on), and I’m sure there will be again, three or four voices tried for each character to see how they fit.”
Green Lantern is scheduled for a June 17, 2011 release.