After putting no less than Zorro and James Bond through their big screen paces, director Martin Campbell knows his way around iconic film adventure heroes. But can he help create one?
Campbell – who previously helmed “The Mask of Zorro” and two Bond reboots (Pierce Brosnan in “Goldeneye" and Daniel Craig in “Casino Royale”) – now steers “Green Lantern,” DC Comics and Warner Bros. first attempt to breathe cinematic life into a superheroic character with less marquee recognition than Superman, Batman or Wonder Woman.
“The thing is that I've never done a comic book movie before,” Cambell says. “Superheroes, I guess, yes: Bond is a kind of a form of a superhero, and Zorro, obviously. But I've never done a [traditional] superhero movie before. I wasn't even versed in the comic when it came through the door. Once having read them and so forth, it just sort of fascinated me, the whole world of Green Lantern, going to another planet, going to the center of the universe. So that's really why I did it. These things aren't about me. These things are a huge team effort by everybody. It's always sort of handed across to the director and I'm on the guy on the floor, certainly.”
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\"Green Lantern,” he says, sticks to the basic story elements that made the character score with audiences, both when Hal Jordan debuted in 1959 (himself a radical reinvention of the 1940s-era Green Lantern) and again in recent years as DC brought the enduring concept back to basics with both creative and commercial success. “It’s very like the origin story,” he says of the film. “It’s very similar. A lot of it on Earth, Hal Jordan, all that stuff. It follows pretty faithfully.”
Campbell says he, producer Donald De Line, screenwriter Greg Berlanti and the DC team collaborated heavily to find the most accessible screen version of the story. “We used to sit down and spent a lot of time talking about it and going through it,” he says. “There are a lot of storylines. There's the complexity, the instruction manual of how Green Lantern works, the ring, the 3,600 [Green Lantern Corps members], Oa, will, fear – all of that stuff, which an audience has to understand."
“They want to get it right,” says Campbell of Warner and DC’s efforts to build their own superheroic film franchises in the wake of rival Marvel’s decade-long success. “They're shooting a new Batman now, as you know, and Superman begins shooting I think in six weeks or ten weeks. There’s no pressure, really –they obviously take a very close interest in it to make sure that as you're doing it that it's all what they expect. They're all a pretty bright bunch there.”