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Saturday morning at Warner Brothers' Green Lantern Comic-Con panel, Martin Campbell, Ryan Reynolds, Mark Strong and Peter Sarsgaard answered fan questions and screened a few minutes of footage from the forthcoming comic book adaptation. Following their public appearance, however, which certainly had attendees asking for more, the group fielded questions from reporters at a hotel adjacent to the convention, revealing more information about the characters, the story, and of course the much-talked about style of the film.
Cinematical joined reporters for that press conference, and attempted to squeeze some substantive information about the film out of the cast and filmmakers. But rather than repeating material revealed in the panel, we've compiled the most important (and hopefully, interesting) answers so that by the next time someone is talking about Green Lantern, you'll not only be familiar with the proposed franchise but primed to celebrate its cinematic incarnation.
1. Although the film will borrow from different periods in Green Lantern's comic history, Reynolds and co. are focusing on the man rather than the mythology. Reynolds indicated that the challenge and opportunity with Green Lantern was to give the series some humanity in its big-screen iteration. "Unlike many other comic books, it's such a vast universe to this character and his contemporaries," Reynolds said. "For the most part this is an origin story so I was able to focus a little on Secret Origins, but then, obviously, our script is a much more in depth interpretation of that basic storyline. Geoff Johns described this thing as a version of Star Wars in the DC universe. I think that was a pretty apt description. You have so much you can mine out of this, out of these comics and this character in particular. I think that any time you're dealing with a guy who has something unbelievable and insurmountable to overcome, it makes for a pretty interesting story. As an actor, it's an interesting and excellent thing for me to get an opportunity to play."
"This guy has a very distinct starting point," he continued. "He's a bit of a fractured human being. He's seen some difficult stuff in his life. He's seen his father die. We move on to find him a little bit later in life and he's kind of arrogant, cocky and aimless. It's this extraordinary power that is bestowed on him that sort of sets him on a bit of a humbler path. It's pretty cool." Despite the obvious research he put into developing the character, Reynolds confessed he has already constructed a defense for the inevitable fan questions he'll get: "Artful deflection," he joked. "I would never profess to be as well-versed or as literate in that comic book world as they are. I do know a bit about certain comic books, but I'll be the first to tell them when I don't know about that particular issue."
2. Despite playing what may be the piece's bad guy, Mark Strong is trying to find Sinestro's sympathetic side. "I'm not sure you prepare for villains necessarily," Strong said when asked how he prepared to play Jordan's sometime nemesis. "You prepare for a character. I suppose the way I look at villains is that nobody is born evil. Usually something happens to their time on the planet or in space that causes them to become the way they are. You have to look at who he is and what he stands for and what he believes in. He is an incredibly organized, fearless, exponent of the Green Lantern Corps who believes that he knows best."
"In this movie as it stands, he becomes mentor to the newly minted human Green Lantern and basically guides him through his first steps," he explained of his role in the story. "We deal with that process, so 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 what he wants to be right. If there's anything that causes him later on to spill over to the dark side, it's his unquestioning belief in his own rightness."
3. Notwithstanding the cranium-cracking prosthetics, Peter Sarsgaard studiously avoided letting his character's formidable intellect give him a big head. Describing Hector Hammond, another adversary for Jordan, Sarsgaard revealed "He is a biologist. He teaches the university but his private time is quite interested in extremophiles, animals that live in extreme environments on earth as a way to understand creatures that live on other planets. There's a fine line there between science and wishful thinking. I thought about a lot of people who have sort of stretched our ideas [who] added a little bit of creativity to science like Carl Sagan or Isaac Asimov. The part of me that, when I was young read more things like that than I did straight comics. A sense of wonder about the world where you start filling in gaps, which is what most scientists try not to do. So I really thought of him as kind of a dreamer in a lot of ways."
4. Those initial shots of the Green Lantern costume are part of a work in progress, although Reynolds admitted that the interim version is ill-suited to the film's location shooting. "This costume is a motion capture suit that I'm wearing," Reynolds explained. "Because it's not seen on camera, they've managed to find a material that I think most would agree is the most aggravating substance on earth. We're shooting in Louisiana, which is pretty close to the sun in terms of the hottest place you can find anywhere around. The suit has actually been a little bit difficult running around in a unitard in the New Orleans high summer heat. [But] if I were wearing anything, it's going to be pretty uncomfortable doing an action movie this time of year in the deep south, so I can't be too hard on the suit."
Meanwhile, Reynolds revealed a serendipitous detail about the costume that seemed to suggest he was born to play the role of Hal Jordan. "There was a Cinderella element to it, because the FX house that was asked to make the Green Lantern mask had no idea who was auditioning, but they arbitrarily chose my head from their vast catalogs of actors' heads to build this mask around. So when I showed up to set, my mask fit a little better than maybe Regis Philbin's or Richard Chamberlain's. Or whoever else might have been auditioning that day."
5. Green Lantern may be considered one of the least audience-friendly comic book adaptations given its complex history, but director Martin Campbell is confident that he and his cast can lay its bag of snakes out straight. "It's not a tough one to explain," Campbell insisted. "I think it's all very, very clear. I think the story that we are telling, which is the Hal Jordon story, is quite concise, actually. I think that the fact that he is taken up to Oa and he's inducted and he becomes a Green Lantern and the way in which the ring works through will power. The stronger your will power, the stronger your construct. Construct being whatever your imagination cares to create. The actual story is very simple. I know there are many complex characters and all the characters from the origin story go on to the dark side in later comics and things, but I think it's very straightforward."
(If you understood what Campbell said above, please let us know in the comments below.)