Comic book adaptations often weave a circuitous and amusing path toward the big screen. Remember when Cher was rumored to be up for the role of Catwoman in "The Dark Knight Rises"? But few superhero flicks can compete with the epically bizarre twists and turns that tripped up "Green Lantern" for years.
Jack Black was once tapped to play the ring-bearing protector of the universe. When the rotund comedian's version collapsed, everyone from Brian Austin Green to Justin Timberlake were rumored to be circling the green-suited superhero. Can you imagine Quentin Tarantino helming a "Green Lantern" flick starring one of these dudes? Well, the "Inglourious Basterds" director turned down the chance to take control of the project.
And now, here we are. "Green Lantern" opened in theaters Friday (June 16) with Ryan Reynolds as test pilot-turned-superhero Hal Jordan, Martin Campbell ("Casino Royale") in the director's chair, and the film, we'd say, is all the better for it. But how did we arrive at this moment? To answer that question, let's slip on our power rings and take a trip back into the cinematic past with another MTV News cheat sheet. That's the only way to discover everything there is to know about "Green Lantern":
Recharging the Lantern
After years in development hell, the project seemed finally to be moving forward in August 2008, when the DC Comics property moved back into active development with a script by Greg Berlanti, Marc Guggenheim and Michael Green. There was even talk that the movie would begin filming the next spring and that Ryan Gosling would take on the lead role. While Campbell eventually began to eye the film, production didn't move forward, even though Warner Bros. announced a December 17, 2010, release date.
Would filming begin in September? Would Anton Yelchin ("Star Trek") become Hal Jordan? What about fellow "Trek" star Chris Pine? Rumors, rumors, everywhere! Unsurprisingly, the release date was moved back to June 17, 2011.
Finally, in July '09, the ring chose its man: Ryan Reynolds officially landed the role of Hal Jordan.
Greeting the Corps
"I fell in love with the character when I met with Martin Campbell," Reynolds told us a few months later. "When I sat down with him, I really got what it is that this guy is all about. When you have a guy like Martin Campbell, part of his charm is that he has balls of titanium, and the other part is that he's slightly crazy, and you have to be to take on something with the scope of 'Green Lantern.' "
No joke. The 3-D film journeys from the shores of America to the most distant planets of the universe. There are aliens galore, a villain who thrives on fear and power rings that harness willpower into fantastical manifestations, like giant machine guns and supercharged fists. Jordan finds himself at the center of it all, after he's chosen to join the Green Lantern Corps, an army of fighters chosen to protect the universe from all evils. The baddies they must confront in the film are Dr. Hector Hammond, a scientist turned lumpy-headed villain, and Parallax, a smoky enemy capable of engulfing planets and who threatens to snuff out all life forms. Into this mess steps Jordan with two quests: stop the bad guys and get the girl — a lovely test pilot named Carol Ferris, played by Blake Lively.
"There has to be a little healthy debate about it," Reynolds told us later. "I mean, that's important. If it were just slanted one way or the other, I don't think it would be that satisfying. And truthfully, we've only seen a tiny glimpse of the suit, you know, we haven't seen it in motion. And we haven't seen the full suit as well."
Green Lantern's Light
The first trailer popped up in November, and once again fans were less than impressed. But Reynolds didn't sweat it. "I'm not worried about it," he told us in April. "We've never been worried about it, because we saw the early concepts and we saw how well they worked. Unfortunately, that was stuff you can't just release and show to people, because it needs to be perfected and all that stuff. I'm not worried about it at all."
Public opinion started to change this summer at WonderCon and CinemaCon, as fans got their eyes on fresh "Green Lantern" footage. "The first time I saw it was just breathtaking," Reynolds told us recently. "I think the first time it hit me that we really did it right was in WonderCon," he told us recently. "I'd been shooting in Africa at the time, so I flew back just to be there, and I was exhausted, and they put up this 10 or 11 minutes of footage, and you could feel it going like a wave through the audience."
Breathtaking was exactly our opinion of an eye-popping poster we debuted in April — one that featured a slew of Corps aliens like Tomar-Re, Abin Sur and Kilowog. Another trailer arrived in May: more aliens, more action and more of Reynolds' sometimes goofy, sometimes badass superhero. It was more than enough to get us pumped about the movie to come.
"For me, what attracted me to it most was the space-epic nature of it," Reynolds told us at the MTV Movie Awards in early June. "I just loved that you had this film that was an origin story, that's not really starting in the third act like a lot of them do. I grew up with movies like that. I love movies like that. So just to be part of it was mind-boggling."
Check out everything we've got on "Green Lantern."