"In brightest day...
In blackest night...
No evil shall escape my sight.
Let those who worship evil's might
Beware my power... Green Lantern's light."
With those simple lines, Ryan Reynolds charmed 6500 people in Hall H and made a lifelong fan of one little boy. Contrary to many reports, the boy didn't actually ask Reynolds to recite the famous Green Lantern Oath when he got his turn at the mic during the audience Q&A at the Warner Bros. panel. He actually asked the question, "What does it feel like when you do the Green Lantern Oath?" Which is infinitely more interesting and charming than "Will you do the Green Lantern Oath?"
And what made Reynolds so likable in the moment was the genuine way he responded to the question. If you see the footage, you see him react first, an emotional beat, and then a decision. And just watching him make a decision, watching him slip into the Hal Jordan he's playing right now, and then say the Oath... not for us as an audience, because that's not the moment. He said it to that little boy. And just to him. And the look on that kid's face when the Comic-Con cameras cut to him after Reynolds finished...
That was worth getting up and standing in line and being in the room for. The footage that was shown was interesting and I'll certainly share my impressions of it, but that doesn't really matter. Because that moment made me believe that Reynolds can play that particular hero in a way that will connect. I'm interested. There's a loooooot of other parts in motion before "The Green Lantern" is a good movie, but I'm sold on Reynolds as the guy to pull it off if anybody's going to.
And before I continue, a word to the smarmy, smug, condescending columnists who have spilled considerable spleen in public over Comic-Con in the last few weeks, sneering at it, sneering at anyone who's in that room. Let me tell you... when I was in that hall, I was in one of two places. I was either onstage moderating a panel, or just sitting in any available seat, always near the very back of the hall. I never asked for or tried to obtain a reserved seat. I was lucky enough to sit with some friends at a few panels, but not in any sort of "press section," and not because anyone saved me anything. It was just luck.
For the most part, I was sitting by myself surrounded by random people, and in every case, things were chatty and friendly and engaged. These were the people who bought their badges, and they were there because they wanted to be. These were the people who waited in those crazy lines outside. It's not work for them. It's a vacation. There was a lovely couple from New York who I sat next to for a few panels who were there for the whole thing, just sitting and enjoying and soaking it in, and talking to them, or talking to the father and son who sat next to me at another panel, or talking to the kids who made room for me at the last minute before another panel... those conversation reminded me that Comic-Con is many things to many people, and anyone who reduces it to a single experience and claims that is somehow emblematic of the entire thing is a fool. A cynical, angry, fan-hating fool.
The actual "Green Lantern" footage was good, but it did raise some questions. There were a number of images I found impressive in the brief reel, including the reveal of Oa, and it certainly seems to imply that it's the sort of movie where the hero will, as Reynolds put it, "throw a punch, tell a joke, and get the girl." The start of the footage was just a glowing green blob of energy in the center of a screen, along with a voice telling us that this is a test. We were directed to try and focus our own energy on the image onscreen, to control it, to make it resolve into a shape. Eventually, it grew brighter until it enveloped the screen and the actual footage began.
Considering the response to the suit when it showed up on the front of Entertainment Weekly in their pre-Comic-Con issue, it was a curious choice to not include any of it in the clips package, but it sounded like they are still working on it, still trying to pin it down. Martin Campbell talked about how the suit is made up of power lines that follow the lines of Reynolds' actual musculature, and how it's very much a "work in progress" right now.
In the footage, we saw Reynolds fly. We saw a brief shot of Hector Hammond (Peter Sarsgaard) with a giant head. We saw Oa. We saw a quick shot of Tomar-Re, one of the many alien Green Lanterns we'll be meeting in the film. We saw Reynolds throw a punch only to have a giant green energy fist knock a pair of guys through a wall. It was all very quick and just imparted the film's bigscreen look (par for the course with Martin Campbell onboard) and its scale, both of which seemed promising.
This is a great example of a case where the right footage might have really altered the buzz in the room, but the footage they brought just managed to give both naysayers and believers plenty of ammo to believe they're right. If you listened to the panel and the information given, though, what emerged was a vision of a film that is absolutely packed with fan service. The Green Lantern Corps offers up an amazing assortment of characters that I'm guessing fans never thought they'd seen on a movie screen, including Tomar-Re, Kilowog, Bzzzd, Salaak, Boodikka, Green Man, and more. At one point, Ryan Reynolds mentioned that Parallax would also be in the film, but almost immediately, he said, "I'm not sure I'm allowed to talk about that." Parallax is a parasitic demon, the manifestation of fear, and in the comics, it eventually turned Hal Jordan into a supervillain. Between his presence in the film, the idea that Sinestro makes it through this one as a hero, and Blake Lively making promises about her character Carol Ferris and her eventual turn to the dark side, what was apparent is that they are planning to make a number of these movies.
I do agree with someone I spoke with last night, though. As much as I like the idea of seeding the first film with story opportunities for the future, I don't like the notion that they're already talking to us about sequels before we've decided as an audience whether we even like the first film. There's an arrogance to that which I think can be off-putting. I know that Warner Bros. views these new DC films as a chance to replace their "Potter" franchise, and I'm fine with that... but earn it. Make films we want to see more of, and we'll keep going. And if you make a lousy first film, all the planning in the world won't give you a franchise.
Speaking of "Potter," I thought it was an impressive look at the final two films that Warner Bros. offered up as the second part of their Saturday panel. It was a rare miscalculation on Warner's part to just bring Tom Felton (Draco Malfoy in the movies) to the panel. This is the last year they'll be able to bring the cast to introduce things, and they should have either gone all in or not done it at all. As it was, there was something sort of half-hearted about his wide-eyed response to the crowd and the footage. I think Felton's reaction was genuine, but he didn't really add anything by being there.
The footage, though? Amazing. It was a generous glimpse at both of the films being made for "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows." I have heard people mock the ad line "The motion picture event of a generation," but I think it's entirely accurate. No one's every tried anything like Warner tried with "Potter," and to see them stick the landing is an experience the fans will never forget, and that I doubt anyone will ever duplicate on this scale. It looks like a dark ride this time, and it's a sinister world that Potter finds himself facing in this last movie. Honestly, as much as I enjoyed seeing the footage, though, this is a case where Warner really should have gone big or just left the film out of the panel completely. This really should have been the victory lap for all involved.
More Comic-Con reactions and articles are en route. I appreciate the patience of every single reader of this blog. Today is the last of my crazy days in the wake of Comic-Con. I've had back-to-back junkets and screenings since getting back from San Diego, and now I'm finally, after one last interview this afternoon, settling in to write for the next four days straight.
Lots more to come on all sorts of films, so keep checking in.
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