Ryan Reynolds is Hollywood’s newest superhero, as he prepares to star in next summer’s Green Lantern. This week’s issue of Entertainment Weekly, which is the third annual Comic-Con Preview issue, takes a look at whether Reynolds’ power ring (and his six-pack abs) can save the universe.
As he was propelled at 60 feet a second on a wire to create the illusion he can fly, Reynolds opens up about the perils of flying at high speed. “The first time you do it, you’re deeply considering an adult diaper,” he admits. He’s spent countless hours training for elaborately choreographed fight scenes and maintained a monklike diet. “It’s all part of the job, so I guess I can’t complain,” he says. “You spend one day a week eating what you want and the other six days eating drywall and wood chips.”
Since being created in 1940, Green Lantern has been one of the most beloved characters in the DC Comics stable of heroes, but beyond a hardcore audience of fanboys, he’s basically known as just a guy in a green suit with a magical ring. “Green Lantern doesn’t enjoy the familiarity or renown of, say, Batman or Spider-Man,” producer Donald De Line acknowledges. “We have to make the movie stand on its own.”
Figuring out the right way to bring the story to the screen wasn’t simple. In 2004, reports surfaced that a zany comedic take on Green Lantern was in the works, but fanboys didn’t like it and the project quickly died. Greg Berlanti, a comic-book fan and TV producer (Brothers & Sisters), wrote a screenplay and pitched Warner Bros. an outline for a grand trilogy. “I had to convince them this was the most valuable property they hadn’t tapped into and that it wasn’t just a cartoony thing about a guy with a magic ring,” says Berlanti. “Of all the comic-book movies, there hadn’t been something with an Americana feeling on earth and an epic feeling in space.”
Reynolds got hooked by the notion that power-ring slinging intergalactic do-gooder Hal Jordan’s ring can conjure anything he dreams up. And the actor already had experience in the superhero realm, playing the acerbic Deadpool in X-Men Oirins: Wolverine and flirted with playing the Flash. Though a Deadpool spin-off is in development, Reynolds foresees no problem juggling two superhero characters. “Green Lantern is a totally different bag of tricks,” he says. “I wouldn’t think twice about playing a cop in one movie and an FBI agent in another one.”
With Reynolds’ wife, Scarlett Johansson, playing Black Widow in the Iron Man franchise, he says, “We have a lot of comic books lying around the house – more than the average young married couple.”
The actor reflects on the burden of carrying a superhero movie on his shoulders: “The pressure is all on me,” he says. “I try not to think too much about that.” He muses about the merchandising blitz that this summer tentpole movie will eventually unleash, a bonanza of green-hued products, each with his face plastered on it. “There’ll be the Green Lantern hubcaps,” he says drily. “The Green Lantern terry-cloth onesie. The Green Lantern prostate check.” For his part, there’s just one souvenir he wants when it’s all over: “I’m definitely leaving with a ring,” he says. “And maybe an ulcer.”