It's been in the pipeline for over a decade...
Warner Brothers have been puzzling over how to bring the Green Lantern to life for what seems like an age. It was way back in 1997 that fanboy extraordinaire Kevin Smith was first approached to write a script, only for the Clerks director to pass in favour of someone “better qualified.”
With the studio clearly flummoxed with what to do with the project, Green Lantern was shoved to the bottom of the pile, before the nightmarish concept of making it as a comedy reared its ugly head.
Saturday Night Live scribbler Robert Smigel got as far as turning in a script (with Jack Black pencilled in as the lead!), before Warner scrapped the idea in the face of poor feedback from outraged fans.
Then in October 2007, Greg Berlanti, a genuine fan of the series, signed on to write and direct, making the key decision to have smart-mouthed fighter-pilot Hal Jordan as the Lantern of choice, rather than original pick, John Stewart. There’s more than one Green Lantern you see, with various different characters taking on the mantle throughout the history of the comic.
“I was a huge comic-book fan growing up,” said Berlanti, “and so I actually went around LA for a while trying to get comic-book movies as a writer. So I didn’t have to do much research at all, it was more ‘how am I going to get into this one script all my enthusiasm about this film?’”
Martin Campbell will direct...
Having whipped up a mercifully Jack Black-free script, Berlanti was all set to kick-off pre-production in 2008, before a scheduling clash with comedy This Is Where I leave You meant the project was once again director-less.
Cue widespread banging of heads at Warner Brothers HQ, before Casino Royale helmer Martin Campbell was swiftly drafted in as a replacement,
Fresh from his successful revival of the ailing Bond franchise with it’s newly fallible hero, Campbell was intrigued by the Green Lantern’s similarly human limitations.
"I've been offered a superhero movie before, but I turned them all down,” said Campbell. “This guy had something extra I liked.”
“Whereas Superman only has to defeat Kryptonite, this guy's superpower is willpower: he can will up a giant hand and then slap you with it. But if he has a hangover, or he's half-dead or something, the hand will be all blurry and soft and useless.”
Ryan Reynolds is Green Lantern...
With a new director in the bag, the next gap on the teamsheet was someone to fill out the spandex. Typically, Warner did their best to make a hash of things, agonizing for months over a decision as studio, director and executive producer all reportedly pushed for different contenders.
Wolverine star Ryan Reynolds was one of the first to be linked to the role, but the Canadian found himself scrapping through a lengthy audition process against Bradley Cooper, Jared Leto and, brace yourselves, Justin Timberlake.
We assume that Martin Campbell got the man he wanted however, as Reynolds credits the New Zealander with sealing the deal in getting him on board.
“I've known about Green Lantern my whole life,” said Reynolds, “but I've never really followed it before. I fell in love with the character when I met with Martin Campbell. When I sat down with him, I really got what it is that this guy is all about.”
“When you have a guy like Martin Campbell, part of his charm is that he has balls of titanium, and the other part is that he's slightly crazy. It's infectious! When I went to the meeting, I was entirely cynical (but) I left the room with a completely different perspective.”
Well done that man! Back in your box Timberlake…
It will be an origin story...
As you’d expect from the first film in a potential series, a significant wedge of the plot will revolve around how our hero becomes, well, super. In Green Lantern’s case, this involves a convoluted back-story involving an intergalactic police-force, a super-villain named Legion, and a rather nifty green ring…
A fair bit to get through then, but Campbell makes no bones about the task ahead.
“The origin story of Green Lantern is complex, probably one of the most complex,” said the director, “which makes it a challenge to get it right”. He’s clearly done his research though, referencing comic-book miniseries Emerald Dawn as inspiration for his Lantern.
“(In Emerald Dawn ) he’s the hotshot military guy who is slightly fucked up,” said Campbell. “In fact if anybody should not be chosen as Green Lantern, it would have been Hal Jordan.”
But if all this sounds worryingly like a Hulk -esque exposition-fest, Reynolds has been quick to reassure fans that there will be plenty of action too.
“It is (an origin story) to a certain degree, but it’s not a laboured origin story, where the movie begins in the third act,” said the star. “The movie starts when it starts. We find out Hal is the guy fairly early on, and the adventure begins.”
It won't be too daft...
Encouragingly, Campbell will be keeping any Batman and Robin -style campery to an absolute minimum as he attempts to merge the plausible with the ridiculous.
“I think the thing to do is keep a sense of reality about it,” says the director. “Any time we talk about it, we sit in meetings, we have a cheese meter. We talk about de-cheesing any scene!"
“So often in these superhero movies, nobody seems to get hurt. I remember seeing Wolverine , and he picks people up and hurls them 100 yards into a brick wall. These people, apparently unhurt, sort of get up and continue to fight just as strongly as they did before. Well, there’s something absurd about that, in my opinion.”
That said, this won’t be some bum-numbing, poe-faced meditation on how power corrupts. Campbell is well aware he has multiplexes to fill, and has compared the mood of the film to that of another super-powered saga.
“It will be much more in the tone of Iron Man ” he said. “The Hal Jordan character (is a) sort of shoot from the hip, irresponsible, kind of cocky test pilot…that’s the fun of it!”
Part of it will take place in space...
As if balancing origins with action wasn’t already challenging enough, Campbell has also confirmed that a good chunk of the movie will be set amongst the stars.
“I don’t know what the percentage is, but there’s quite a bit in space,” explains Campbell. “The initial trip up there, the training sessions he has to go through in order to become a Green Lantern. Then, of course at the end, he goes back up to Oa (the planet that houses Green Lantern HQ) again.”
“There are a couple of bits (on Earth) in between. I think there will be enough to satisfy everybody.”
Yeah, that sounds like plenty to us! Given that the Green Lantern Corps is frequently described as a kind of intergalactic police force, it makes sense that our hero wouldn’t be restricted to trudging round this old rock for the entire film.
That said, it will still be a challenge to make sure it all looks convincing, and doesn’t jar against the earthbound stuff. Could this be an attempt to cram in too much, a la Spiderman 3 ? Only time will tell…
Mark Strong is Sinestro...
The shady character of Sinestro will be played by Hollywood’s favourite Brit-abroad, the omni-present Mark Strong.
Fresh from his turn as Kick-Ass ’s big bad, Strong is becoming well-versed on the ins and outs of comic-book lore, and has no qualms letting his inner geek run wild.
“For anybody who's familiar with the Green Lantern and the origin story, the film closely follows the early comics," claims Strong. "Sinestro starts out as Hal Jordan's mentor, slightly suspicious and not sure of him because obviously Hal is the first human being who's made into a Green Lantern.”
A man who knows his stuff, Strong has been doing a bit of homework to make sure his Sinestro looks the part.
“That widow’s peak and thin moustache was for some reason originally based on David Niven, and Hal Jordan was based on Paul Newman,” he says. "Obviously at the time, whoever was doing the original comics must have looked at them as guys doing very well in the film industry, and based those characters on them. I’d like to do justice to the Sinestro that was conceived for the comic books."
But Sinestro won't be the main villain...
Yep, he might sound like a nailed-on wrong’un, but apparently Sinestro isn’t the one ol' Green Pants has to worry about.
According to Mark Strong, “he’s a military guy but isn't immediately bad. He’s the kind of person that lends himself to becoming bad over the course of the comics being written, but initially he's quite a heroic figure."
Hmm, he might be a bit of a bad egg then, but it seems he’s reining it in for now. So who will Ryan Reynolds be facing-off against?
Apparently it’ll be that ever-so-slightly creepy playboy from An Education , Peter Sarsgaard, taking on boo-hiss duties once more as twisted scientist Hector Hammond.
After an encounter with a fallen meteor, Hammond finds himself landed with a host of psychic abilities. And being a mean-spirited chap at the best of times, he’s in no mood to use them for good…Think Paul McKenna once he found out he’d been booted off the telly.
Blake Lively is the love interest...
That’s right folks, despite drawing up a shortlist including Eva Green, Dianne Kruger and Jennifer Garner, Warner plumped for the star of the eye-wateringly rubbish Gossip Girl.
Set to play airline heiress Carol Ferris, Lively’s casting has raised a few eyebrows amongst fans, particularly since she’s a good few years younger than the character.
At least she seems pleased though. “It’s such an exciting film to be a part of,” she says. “it’s a wonderful cast, wonderful studio and it’s an amazing role so I’m really thrilled.”
And whilst that gushing outburst may have got you reaching for the sick-bucket, Ryan Reynolds reckons she’s going to prove a lot of people wrong.
“She's amazing,” says Reynolds. “That girl is nobody's fool. She came in and, much like everyone else in the film, had to fight for the role. She did such an amazing job. She's going to be flawless, perfect.”
Praise indeed. We’ll be happy with “functional” and take anything more as a bonus.
There will be some heavyweight support...
A bit perturbed by the Lively-factor? Yeah, us too…thankfully there’s some juicy-looking support casting to help put that right.
First off, Angela Bassett will be bringing a sprinkling of “serious actress” class to proceedings as Dr. Amanda Waller, a former government agent who appeared in the comics as the leader of a group of bad-guys turned good called the Suicide Squad.
Bassett will also be joined by fellow Hollywood A-lister Tim Robbins, who has signed on to play Senator Hammond, Hector’s disapproving old man.
Bassett and Robbins are impressively big hitters for what will probably be fairly minor roles, and we’re not the only ones excited by the big names.
“I look at (Tim Robbins) like he was the guy that gave me my first job,” says Peter Sarsgaard, who worked with Robbins on Dead Man Walking . “He doesn’t feel like an equal to me, he feels like a God! He's a lot taller than I am!”
Sounds like they’ll have that father and son relationship nailed…
Fanboys will be well catered for...
Those pesky comic-book fans are notoriously hard to please, but there should be plenty of authentic touches and in-references to keep even the most die-hard purists happy.
Campbell has confirmed a number of familiar names from the Green Lantern universe will be popping up in the film, including outgoing Green Lantern Abin Sur, alien scientist Kilowog, Green Lantern Corps stalwart Tomar Re and blue-skinned immortals, the Guardians of the Universe.
Geeky streak not satisfied yet? One of the drafts of the script that was leaked on the internet also makes reference to a fleeting appearance by a certain Clark Kent…
It's going to look interesting...
Seeing as Warner Brothers are tarting up every other release with a 3D flourish, it should come as no surprise that Green Lantern will also be getting the shiny three-dimensional treatment.
As yet it’s unclear whether the film will be shot in 3D, or whether the effect will be added in post-production, but given that the film was originally set for 2D, with the announcement coming shortly before filming began, we would lean towards the latter.
What is surprising however, is the recent revelation that Ryan Reynold’s Green Lantern suit will be an entirely CGI affair. The star will apparently be decked out in motion-capture gear throughout filming, but the suit will only be added in after everything else is complete!
Sounds like a dicey move to us, although if it comes off Warner Brothers will have a unique-looking entry to stand out in a crowded genre. After all, people thought Avatar was a gamble once upon a time…
This (probably) won't be the last we see of the Lantern...
So will there be sequels? Well, Warner Brothers haven’t said so for definite, but all the pieces appear to be in place for a Green Lantern franchise, should this one deliver at the box office.
Since Mark Strong has suggested that the Sinestro we will see in this film is on Green Lantern’s side, we can’t help but think he’s being set up as a potential baddie for a future instalment.
Campbell meanwhile, has also made reference to Sinestro’s villainous leanings, commenting that, “we all know that (he) is a character who goes over to then dark side, and of course, we have Carol (who) in later versions becomes a bad guy as well.”
And on top of that, the director has admitted that he would definitely be on board if sequels were to go ahead. “Yeah, I’d like to (do more),” he said. “You get a little protective of a franchise.”
So it is a franchise then is it Martin? We knew it…