June 2011 marked the release of two major comic book movies: X-Men: First Class, out now, and Green Lantern, in theaters this Friday.
While X-Men: First Class has been critically and commercially successful, it contains drastic departures from X-Men comic books. Green Lantern, on the other hand, is extremely close — both visually and plot-wise — to the comic books that inspired it, especially recent work from writer and DC Entertainment chief creative officer Geoff Johns.
According to the cast and creative team behind the movie, sticking true to the source material was always part of the plan.
"I kind of see it like a true comic book movie, in that it feels somewhat like you ripped scenes from the movie right out of pages of the comic," said Ryan Reynolds, Green Lantern's Hal Jordan, at a Los Angeles press conference. "That was something that I really loved."
Director Martin Campbell is new to superhero films, but definitely has experience with franchises that come with a loyal fanbase, having helmed two James Bond movies — 1995's GoldenEye and 2006's Casino Royale.
"You don't even think about the critics' expectations when making a movie," Campbell said. "Obviously you want the fans to like the movie, because god help you if they don't."Producer and screenwriter Greg Berlanti is a self-professed Green Lantern fan himself, and said that while Hal Jordan may be seen like a "tier 2" superhero compared to more recognizable icons like Superman and Batman, the character's inherent nature to alternate between Earth and exotic outer space locales sets him apart.
"The opportunity to go off the planet and come back again, and blend those tones — especially in terms of how Geoff Johns had brought it back — it seemed to provide itself really naturally for an epic film," Berlanti said. "That was the origin for us."
Producer Donald De Line said he came to the superhero genre late in life, and, along with Campbell, was more of a voice of the "general audience member" — as opposed to fans Berlanti and Johns, who was frequently on set.
"I loved the fact that I could relate to the Hal Jordan character," De Line said. "He's just a regular human being, and putting on that ring is what gives him that power. It's about the will that he has inside of him, which is just part of the human condition, which I found very relatable and very interesting about the character. And then just the great fantasy of going into this whole new world, which is endlessly entertaining."
Along with Peter Sarsgaard's Hector Hammond, the film's main antagonist is Parallax. Essentially the embodiment of fear, Parallax is a relatively new addition to the comic book mythos, having first debuted as a concept in 1994, and explored further in recent years by Johns.
"When we first went into the studio, we talked to them about three movies. It was always important to honor Parallax — in the DC Universe, the opposite of will is fear," Berlanti said. "It's sort of like the dark and light side of The Force."Hal Jordan's fellow Green Lantern Corps members are well-represented in the film, with sizable supporting roles from Kilowog, Tomar Re, and inevitable future foe Sinestro, played by Mark Strong.
Reynolds said that the possibility of a future film detailing the conflict between Hal and Sinestro — who, in the comics, forms his own corps of fear-fueled yellow ring-wielders — was one of the things that initially attracted him to the movie.
"There are so many different worlds and stories you can tell in this universe," Reynolds said. "I was very attracted to this idea of the war between Hal and Sinestro at some point."The actor, who has played in past comic book movies Blade: Trinity and X-Men Origins: Wolverine, has admitted in past interviews to not knowing much about Green Lantern going in beyond the basic concept. Once he signed on, he said, he was committed to doing the character justice.
"Mostly I just wanted to distill the essence of what it is that the fanboys loved about this guy, and see if we can make sure that we get that on screen, first and foremost, because you have to service them," Reynolds said. "There's a reason they fell in love with this character to begin with, and whatever that reason is, it will be a little bit more pervasive when you do it in a huge movie like this, and it'll spread to people who aren't familiar with it."Got a comment? There's lots of conversation on Newsarama's FACEBOOK and TWITTER! More on Green Lantern:
- Hey, That's My Cape! – 8 Things GREEN LANTERN Must Have
- GEOFF JOHNS Still Writes Comics, Part 1: GREEN LANTERN
- DC Universe Revamps In September