“Green Lantern” star Ryan Reynolds charmed the Hall H crowd on Saturday with plenty of his understated wit, describing a character who can “tell a joke, throw a punch and kiss the girl.”
But the tone of the quick-cut footage Warner Bros. showed, and the tenor of many of the questions, carried a more serious superhero quality. Unlike the panel for that other verdant superhero, “The Green Hornet,” this session brought in-depth discussions of mythology likely to be embraced by the hardcore fan; the size of Dr. Hector Hammond’s head, the evolution of Sinestro and the presence of Parallax in the film (he’s in there) were all parsed with earnest intensity.
Moderated by The Times’ Geoff Boucher, the panel featured, among others, director Martin Campbell, DC executive and comics writer Geoff Johns, screenwriter Greg Berlanti and Reynolds, Blake Lively and Peter Sarsgaard from the cast. In the comics there have been numerous Green Lanterns over the years, but Berlanti explained that the Silver Age-era Hal Jordan was the logical starting point. “The audience could go on a real journey” with that character, he said.
Johns noted the movie’s development travails — the first seeds were planted back in the mid-90s — saying that some executives were misguided enough to suggest a “Lantern” without his trademark ring.
Despite the comics’ more traditional gender roles, Lively did hint at some more contemporary spin. The actress, who plays love-interest/potential villain Carol Ferris, noted that she liked the role because her character “gets to save the man a few times.”
Johns was coy about upcoming developments for both Green Lantern and other DC properties. “There’s room,” was his short answer when a fan asked about the possibility of creating a world that would mirror Marvel’s cross-linked universe of “Avengers” characters.
But for all the more specific comic-book talk, ultimately Saturday’s panel was The Ryan Reynolds Show, as the actor recited the Green Lantern oath, signed a comic book for a young fan and, in a nicely orchestrated Warner Bros. promotion, handed out a Green Lantern ring he had been wearing to someone in the audience.
“Now we’re married, but in space,” Reynolds wagged after the ring was given. But then, inevitably, a statement of artist self-effacement: “I saw this guy [Hal Jordan] who’s arrogant and cocky but who’s given this gift, and it becomes incredibly humbling for him,” he said. “I thought that was a really interesting arc.”
Much of “Green Lantern” will be sold on Reynolds’ back — and given how his macho deadpan worked to help sell a very different movie in “The Proposal,” it’s probably not a bad strategy.
At the end of the panel, the requisite question about which superhero panelists would like to play was asked. Reynolds, Lively and Saarsgard all gave standard answers (a wookie, Harry Potter and Captain America, respectively). But when it came time for Johns’ turn, he won over the crowd, and underscored the theme of the panel, with a two-word quippy answer: “Ryan Reynolds.”
— Steven Zeitchik
Photo: Ryan Reynolds, Blake Lively and Peter Saarsgard at “The Green Lantern” panel. Credit: Kevin Winter/Getty Images
RECENT AND RELATED
PHOTO GALLERY: Scenes from Comic-Con 2010