Call it comeback week for Warner Bros' "Green Lantern" superhero franchise but a few months ago it was a completely different story. When the EW magazine cover that first revealed lead actor Ryan Reynolds in costume hit, the core geek crowd were not feeling the CGI-created mask or suit. The first trailer didn't fare much better and was criticized by fanboys for its cheap effects and far-too-goofy tone.
Turns out Warner Bros. were listening quietly all along and taking notes. They spent months addressing all the issues, and they're still working on the picture, fine-tuning it as we speak. And this weekend over at WonderCon, San Francisco's version of ComicCon, the "Green Lantern" footage killed. Not only were the geek constituents pleased, but the footage was released online only a few hours later, and critics and fans alike (mostly) agree that while there may be some work to be done, "Green Lantern" is definitely headed in the right direction (the big hurdle of plausible, suspension-of-disbelief effects seems to have been overcome and it's probably only tone, direction and performance that can royally derail the picture).
There has been some grumbling from the comic book fanbase that Reynolds is the wrong choice to fill Hal Jordan’s shoes based on his mostly comedic roles in the past. Though the crowd ate up Reynolds’s signature snark throughout the panel, he was cautious to bring focus to bear on “Green Lantern” being a superhero movie that just happens to have some hints of humor. During interviews following the panel, Reynolds assured those who were worried, that the picture wouldn't be as comedic and silly as that first trailer suggested. "We were very careful to never push that too far, but you're dealing with a pretty inexplicable universe and you're dealing with a guy who's been transported to another galaxy, there's gotta be some moments of levity there cause the movie is not 'The Dark 'Knight' and it's not a comedy, but it is somewhere in between," he said.
In fact, Reynolds addressed the first trailer and its problems specifically. "A lot of the moments of levity you've probably already seen in that first trailer," he said. "Because they were earthbound scenes, that trailer lacked a lot of special effects cause none of it was ready yet so we were limited to only using fifteen minutes of usable footage to harvest a trailer out of it. But I wouldn't say [the comedy] is pervasive throughout the whole movie. When he's arrogant and cocky in the beginning you see a lot of that, but once he's humbled by this gift, it's a different story."
Reynolds also stressed while he does have a comedic background, the film wasn't tailor-made for his comedic sensibilities. "You have to inject some of your own being into the character to make it work," he said, "but at the same time you have to be deeply respectful and reverent of the character's origins."
"The Proposal" actor said that acting in front of green screen all day was difficult, but also just part of what he had signed up for and thus, just part of the job. He also said he had full confidence in the filmmakers and the support system around him. "Movies like this are such a leap of faith because I spend 6 months staring at a big blank wall. So I'm fulfilling my end of the bargain and you're hoping these guys will take care of that," he said. "But you never get in a plane without checking the pilot, so I have [director] Martin Campbell there. I have WB there and they need to be acknowledged cause they do this stuff right. They spend the money, they don't cheap out on it. They hire all the right people. You just have to know that these guys are going to take care of you."
It should be noted, though, that this weekend "Green Lantern" producer Donald De Line told THR the effects team still have 50% of the film's effects to go and they are racing to the finish line. "[We are working] seven days a week, oh yeah. They have all the visual effects houses working on our stuff, Sony Imageworks the chief one among them. They have people seven days a week, non-stop," he said. He also discussed the first trailer and says the new "Green Lantern" trailer will hit when "Thor" arrives in theaters. "My frustration, and the nervous-making part of it, was that we literally didn¹t have enough of the finished effects footage to deliver to them so they could get materials out in front. But that's changing finally."
Meanwhile, in a move that demonstrated some serious confidence in their June 17, 2011 tentpole, last summer Warner Bros. hired Greg Berlanti, Michael Green and Marc Guggenheim, who worked together on the upcoming "Green Lantern," to pen a treatment for the sequel. It was unclear at the time if they were going to write the script as well, but to hear Reynolds tell it, that story is pretty much locked and a sequel is pretty much ready to go as long as audience take to the expensive picture.
"I already know where that story's going to go and I think when people see the movie they're going to know as well," he said, hinting that the first film will set up the sequel as already rumored. "So if we're all lucky enough to be a part of [a sequel] that would be great, but yeah, the story's set in stone pretty much where it's gotta go."
“Green Lantern” also stars Blake Lively, Peter Sarsgaard, Mark Strong, Tim Robbins, Angela Bassett, Temuera Morrison, Jon Tenney, the voice of Geoffrey Rush, probably Michael Clarke Duncan, and as is aforementioned, is set for release this summer on June 17. -- Reporting by Sean Gillane