You will believe that Mark Strong is Sinestro.
Now, your immediate reaction to that sentence may be, “Who is Mark Strong?” Well, you’ve see him play the baddie in films such as “Sherlock Holmes,” “Kick-Ass,” “The Young Victoria” and “Robin Hood.”
If you’ve never picked up a “Green Lantern” comic book your second question is most likely, “Who the heck is Sinestro?” Why, he’s a native of the planet Korugar in space sector 1417 who just happens to be one of the greatest members of the Green Lantern Corps. That is, however, until he turns on the Guardians of Oa and becomes a yellow-ring welding embodiment of fear and order. Did get all that? Don’t worry, you’ll have time to catch up, but it’s just a hint of the rich universe waiting for moviegoers in the big screen adaptation of DC Comics’ “Green Lantern.” But, after a somewhat underwhelming presentation at San Diego Comic-Con, Warner Bros. decided to invite a select number of cinema press, including HitFix, down to the set to show why they are so bullish on their next potential franchise.
Visiting the New Orleans production on the last day of shooting wasn’t what you’d have expected from a traditional movie set visit. The cast and crew had spent a good month or so doing just green screen work which meant there wasn’t much live filming to see. Initially that was something of a concern since our hero’s costume is going the CG route and watching Ryan Reynolds in a motion capture suit suspended in the air would get very old, very quickly. Instead, a startling number of the movie’s secrets were revealed in discussions with Reynolds, the aforementioned Strong, director Martin Campbell (best known for “Casino Royale”), producer Donald DeLine and DC Comics Chief Creative Officer and resident “Green Lantern” superstar comic book writer Geoff Johns.
The most impressive part of the day was an hour-long walk through of the entire film overseen by production designer Grant Major. Elaborate concept drawings lined a soundstage as the visiting journalists were taken through the picture pretty much scene by scene. And for those afraid Warner Bros. might skimp out on the budget for “Lantern,” you’ll be happy to know the picture should have the space opera scope that has made the Emerald Crusader one of the most popular heros in the comic world for decades. Audiences will discover why Hal Jordan (Reynolds) became a test pilot as a kid. They’ll witness his lifelong relationship with Carol Ferris (Blake Lively). Hector Hammond’s origin may be more tragic than opportunist. How Green Lantern Abin Sur crash lands on Earth and how he Jordan discovers him and becomes the new Lantern of sector 2814. And that’s just what takes place on Earth…
According to our hosts, a good chunk of the film occurs on Oa, home of the Guardians and the headquarters of the Green Lantern Corps. It’s already been revealed that Kilowog and Tomar-Re are in the film, but 23 other popular members of the Corps will also appear (identities to be revealed on a later date). Yes, 23 other Corps members appear in the film. In an exclusive concept painting below, you can see the Guardian’s city on Oa and the Green Lantern’s light shooting up from the Central Power Battery through the sky. For a larger version of this image, click here.
The next exclusive new image depicts the Guardian’s Memorial, a final resting place for the fallen lanterns over time. For a larger version of this rendering, click here.
Much more about this tour will be revealed in the months ahead, but we’ll tease that everyone in the room held Jordan’s personal lantern power battery (how he recharges his ring) and eventually, Reynolds passed around Jordan’s ring itself so everyone could wear it. And that brings us to the “Lantern’s” charismatic leading man.
Sitting in a screening room in the New Orleans Reynolds is covered with black dots on his arms as he’s taking a break from shooting, but as he notes, “I just didn’t come in the motion capture suit because I didn’t want you to laugh. I look as threatening as Estelle Getty.”
Reynolds, who has previously delved into the super hero world in “Blade Trinity” and “X-Men Origins: Wolverine,” admitted he only had limited knowledge of the hero before being approached for the role.
“I knew hew was a guy who was bequeathed a ring by a dying alien and could shoot lasers out of it or something. I think I was most startled to find out how vast the universe is,” Reynolds admits. “I know Geoff Johns linked it to the ‘Star Wars’ in the DC Universe and the scope is what really blew my mind. I couldn’t believe it when I made that discovery.”
The sales pitch to Reynolds went so well that the 33-year-old actor joked the tables were turned and soon he was practically begging for the part.
“This is the first movie I’ve ever done where I feel like my nieces and nephews are all tracking it already,” Reynolds says. “I mean, my nephew, the first thing he asked me when I was meeting on the movie was, ‘Can I have the ring?’ And I said, ‘[Expletive] no!'”
Playing the Green Lantern who teaches Jordan how to use his ring initially, Strong has the patented pink skin and black hair and squarish head readers will recognize as Sinestro. Strong jokes about the “glorious” disco boots he wears which increase his height to a necessary 6’7 in scenes with Reynolds, but he wouldn’t complain about the over four hours it takes to apply his make up revealing, “This is day 142 and I’ve only been here for four weeks. I’ve had a pretty simple run.”
Strong also insisted he’s trying not to foreshadow Sinestro’s eventual turn to the dark side (perhaps in that sequel in development) in this particular performance.
“Any backstory you can get is useful, but I’m trying not to foreshadow. But, having said all that he has a kind of presence that is undeniably strong. He goes to the dark side [eventually] not because he’s inherently evil, but because he’s a control freak. A dictatorial, militaristic guy who wants to keep order,” Strong says. “So, for him all that happens is that just, it’s like a revolving circus. It just tips over into him keeping the people in his sector under his thumb and that even the lantern corps are no longer worthy. But, he loves the Corps and he’s the greatest Green Lantern and I’m just trying to give him a presence and a weight that is worthy of that.”
One reference point that almost everyone on the production mentioned was John’s well regarded 2008 graphic novel “Secret Origin” which put Hal Jordan’s superhero debut in a more modern context. For DeLine, who produced “The Italian Job,” “I Love You Man” and “Body of Lies” among other films, it was a key selling point on realizing how “Green Lantern” could appeal to moviegoers across the globe.
“[Hal Jordan] in a regular human being and for the unwashed masses that weren’t steeped in the ‘Green Lantern’ lore, I thought he was a great access point into it,” De Line says. “We take you from Hal Jordan’s point of view. He gets taken to Oa and learns about the Green Lantern Corps. So, for the general audience we are going to this amazing place full of wonderment and all these things that we fantasize about – what is out there in the universe? And we get a glimpse into this version of what it could be.”
“Green Lantern” opens nationwide and in 3-D on June 17, 2011. Look for more in-depth interviews and set details from “Lantern” in the months to come on HitFix.