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Green Lantern Concept Art: Purple John Travolta Bikers From Oa!

You have to feel more than a bit sad for DC Comics – at least when it comes to their film adaptations. Their one on-going franchise at this particular moment is in limbo as we await news on the sequel to The Dark Knight. Superman has been sent back into temporary retirement after Superman Returns. Aside from the long-planned Green Lantern, the only other original DC movie we’ve heard about are rumblings concerning sequels and prequels to Watchmen – ironically perhaps the one project we don’t want. On the other hand, Marvel just rebooted their most successful franchise, have a sequel to a breakout hit coming out soon, have announced principle photography with Kenneth Branagh on another and will soon be announcing the cast of yet another – all building to a climax in 2012. And, against this, DC have… Green Lantern. Okay, admittedly I’m really excited about it, because the character has been on the rise of late and I’m glad to have a DC film that doesn’t feature Batman or Superman, but something struck me about the recently released concept art: doesn’t Sinestro look more than a little bit like John Travolta in Battlefield: Earth?

Somebody shares an intergalactic stylist...

I’ll be honest and concede that the rest of the concept art looks amazing. The pictures of the Guardians and of other Lanterns look pretty much exactly as they should, realised for the big screen. They are bright and colourful, but also strangely pseudo-realistic. It will undoubtedly be fascinating to watch Martin Campbell realise the wonderous 1960s science fiction universe inhabited by the character. Between this and Geoff Johns’ on-going modernising of the character in the comic books, this is a fascinating time for the character.

As a sidenote, part of me wonders if mainstream movie audiences realise what the now expected tentpole comic book films will be like next year. In recent years we’ve had Spider-Man, Batman Begins and Iron Man, all relatively grounded (for guys who dress in tights to fight crime). Next year we’ll have this intergalactic space opera from DC and Thor from Marvel – featuring the eponymous god of thunder and ancient Norse dieties. It’s hardly grounded fare. I’m curious as to how audiences will react – but, if they can accept smurfs in space, surely this is the time for the big budget blockbusters to branch out and offer something different?

Anyway, back to Sinestro himself. I’m just not feeling this particular incarnation of the character. Partially because he looks like a Scientology creation myth painted purple, but also because he looks like a rebel. The character is the arch-foe of the titular Green Lantern – think the Joker to Batman or Lex Luthor to Superman. For those unfamiliar with the character, Sinestro starts out as a mentor for Hal Jordan, teaching him the ropes and what it takes to be an intergalactic law enforcement officer. Think Miami Vicein space! Of course, eventually it turns out that Sinestro isn’t quite the good guy or the legend he’s been made out to be – in fact he’s a dictator who believes that fascism is the best form of galactic rule.

In the above picture, Sinestro looks like a badass. He looks like the kind of guy who sits in the corner of the bar and maintains control of the jukebox, placing dull biker music all night long. The character is the antithesis of this. He’s a dictator. He’s a control freak. He believes in order above all else. He has a buzz cut. He’s neat. He’s tidy. He’s charismatic. He’s the voice of reason who looks and sounds like someone you can trust. The comic book character is drawn heavily from Hitler – even down to his little moustache.

I’ll concede that his original look as a purple snidely whiplash style character might not be the best fit for the big screen. After all, we gave the Joker a Glasgow smile and we’re still not sure what exactly Jon Favreau is doing to Whiplash. I’ll also accept that I shouldn’t jump to conclusions before I’ve seen anything. I trust Martin Campbell and his team – and I’m sure it’ll work out well, but this is my only real misgiving so far about the project, which has so much going for it.

For this single moment of misgiving, there’s the statement from Martin Campbell that Sinestro’s arc will likely form the backbone of a prospective trilogy set in the universe (which might be the first sign that DC are adopting a long-term approach to their properties). There’s the idea that he will grow and develop over more than one movie. There’s the possibility that Campbell may cast the ever-fantastic Mark Strong as Sinestro.

Green Lantern plans to tap into the growing market for CGI smurfs...

Now seems to be the appropriate time to observe that the characters omitted from this collection of concept art which are arguably as notable as those included. While the Guardians of Oa look incredible, I’m surprised we’ve seen no artwork of the two confirmed villains of the piece. There’s the large-headed Hector Hammond, who will be played by the perfectly-cast Peter Saarsgard, and the gigantic yellow swarm-in-a-suit Legion – though, in fairness, Legion was only part of the early rumours about the movie. The inclusion of these two foes suggests that this collection will walk the line between the iconic 1990s reinvention of the Green Lantern origin in Emerald Dawn and Geoff Johns’ more recent adaptation of the story in Secret Origins.

Green Lantern is looking at a 2011 release date and should be the blockbuster to watch that year.

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