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The trailer for The Green Lantern – the opening salvo of a renewed effort (read: “Crap! Harry Potter is over! We need a new yearly cash cow!) by Warner Bros. Pictures to make DC Comics superheroes other than Batman viable on the big screen – debuted in U.S. theaters last week in front of most showings of Harry Potter & The Deathly Hallows: Part 1.

After a pre-release buildup marked by a disastrously-received Entertainment Weekly cover and a famously lackluster Comic-Con panel, the actual trailer now has plenty of Green Lantern fans feeling cautiously optimistic, and plenty more people who were previously unfamiliar with Green Lantern asking, “What the hell was that?”

Are you somewhere near that second group? Never fear – MovieBob is here! Let’s go over it together, shall we? First, watch the trailer.

Okay, here we go beat-by-beat:

0:00 – 0:15 Ryan Reynolds’ character is Hal Jordan, the original modern-day (aka “Silver Age”) Green Lantern, but technically the second DC Universe hero to bear the title (it’s complicated). In the comics, Hal is a no-nonsense ex-military test pilot modeled on the legendary Chuck Yeager, so expect more than a few longtime fans to recoil at his presentation here as a “Maverick” Mitchell-style reckless hotshot. Many will also note that despite having Jordan’s name and origin, Reynolds’ look and demeanor are closer to that of Kyle Rayner, the 4th Green Lantern.

0:17 Most eyes are, understandably, on Hal’s nifty car, but for fans the important thing is the sign above the gate: Ferris Aircraft. That’s the name of Hal’s employers, and the first clue at what this is actually a trailer for – it’s the equivalent of seeing the Daily Planet globe in a Superman trailer.

0:18 – 0:27 Blake Lively as Carol Ferris. As the name suggests, she is (in most versions) the daughter of Hal’s boss and also his primary love interest. In the comics, Carol eventually becomes Star Sapphire, one of GL’s primary enemies. Blake Lively looking like this? Sold!

0:28 – 0:40 Plane-flying action. It looks like Carol is also a pilot in this version, and you can see what looks very much like a star-sapphire logo (see above) on her helmet. Foreshadowing?

0:46 That’ll most likely be the Green Lantern ring flying to meet Hal. That sentence will make sense in a moment.

0:50 – 0:57 “Plane crash? I’d better investig … Oh, snaps! An alien?” Pink-faced spaceman is Temura “Jango Fett” Morrison as Abin Sur, the soon-to-be former Green Lantern of Space Sector 2814.

Okay, here’s what’s going on: The Green Lantern Corps are an intergalactic police force, operating out of Planet OA under leadership of The Guardians (think Yoda crossed with Papa Smurf). Their primary tool is a ring that can create “hard-light constructs” of special green energy in the shape of whatever the wearer can imagine. Every sector of space gets at least one Lantern to watch over it; Abin Sur’s jurisdiction (2814) includes Earth, and somebody just punched his ticket – so his ring’s built-in security protocol has zapped it off to find the nearest worthy replacement. Guess who?

1:05 – 1:10 I have no idea what that structure is supposed to be, but we’re probably looking at part of Oa – maybe the main Temple of the Guardians or the central Power Battery from where the Green Lantern rings draw their power. Dig the driving synth/metal-riff on the score here, evocative of both the first Watchmen trailer and also Inception and Tron: Legacy‘s now-famous BWAAAAAAAAAHHHMMMM refrain.

1:14 Too quick to see, but the blue-looking guy in the glass bubble could be our first glimpse of a Guardian. Unless … wait … could that be Krona? (More on him later.)

1:16 – 1:19 Ladies and gentleman … THE RING.

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1:20 The editing is a little odd (it goes directly from this to Hal flying) but this looks like a ship blasting off from Oa. Traditionally, Abin Sur is depicted preferring to travel in an armed ship out of paranoia about his ring’s effectiveness, so this could be that.

1:21- 1:26 Cool Ring Thing #1: You can fly through space without dying, courtesy of a force field. The early CGI is pretty dodgy here, but I’m liking how big the space stuff looks – for this to work as more than just another superhero movie (particularly as this is opening between Thor and Captain America) it must emphasize the cosmic, Star Wars-level bigness of its world. Speaking of which…

1:27 Oa, homeworld of the Guardians, central headquarters for the Green Lantern Corps.

1:28 Green Lantern fans in the theater with you are/were applauding because the Chicken/Fish/Lizard Man on the left is Tomar Re, Jordan’s (eventual) good buddy and Green Lantern of Sector 2813. Tomar isn’t just important in the Green Lantern mythos, he plays a pivotal role in the larger DC Universe; he lives with the shame of being unable (though not for lack of trying) to prevent the destruction of one of 2813’s key planets – Krypton.

1:29 Our first look at Mark Strong as Sinestro, a character I never would’ve expected to see looking exactly like he’s supposed to in a movie. This is another character who, if they follow the books, will eventually turn evil (first clue: his name is Sinestro) and join with the Guardian’s enemies to procure a Yellow Ring (in the Green Lantern mythos, the whole chromatic spectrum has corresponding powers and yellow is “bad”) but he typically starts off as a mentor whom Hal rebukes for being, essentially, a Bad Cop.

Incidentally, most of the aliens are mo-cap CGI creations, but no one is actually wearing a Green Lantern suit in this – Reynolds and company filmed their scenes in computer-friendly body stockings, and the costumes were painted on with CGI after the fact. Really.

1:31 – 1:37 Bouncy Jeep passenger looks to be Thomoas Kalmaku, an aircraft engineer of Inuit descent who serves as Hal’s obligatory “one friend who knows my secret identity” guy. In the early comics his nickname was “Pie Face”, as in “Eskimo Pie.” For obvious reasons, they don’t do that anymore.

1:42 Our first look at how the Ring’s constructs work – Hal slams some thugs away with a ginormous green energy-fist. Looks cool, but hopefully more interesting constructs are awaiting.

1:45 Peter Sarsgaard as Hector Hammond, probably the main villain of the piece. Supposedly he has a new, streamlined origin for the movie, but originally he’s a petty crook who becomes a bulging-brained supervillain after exposure to a radioactive meteorite (I bet it’ll be the remains of Abin Sur and/or his ship in the movie.) That thing he’s coming out of looks like the same “bubble” from 1:14, so maybe that was actually him.

1:50 And the fandom rejoices again. Kilowog, the lovable bruiser of the Green Lantern Corps and a major fan-favorite character, looking more-or-less like he should.

1:52 Hector Hammond again, now much more severely mutated. He looks ridiculous, and I love it. I’m not 100% sold on the design specifics of a lot of this, but I’m psyched at how much they’ve gone for it when it comes to the 1950s pulp-sci fi feel of the general Green Lantern mythos. Big-Head Hammond looks like something out of the original 60s Star Trek, which is as it should be.

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1:54 Downward-angle P.O.V. shot, citizens fleeing, police firing offscreen and up at something big. Giant monster, perhaps? Please, oh, please let it be a giant monster.

1:55 Green Lantern versus Hector Hammond. Really liking how much they’ve improved the look of the suit since the early glimpses. The noticeably-differentiated black on the arms and legs makes all the difference.

1:59 Hal saves kid from something. Classic comic panel tableau, probably part of a big Hero Moment.

2:00 – 2:03 Helicopter crashing into a big fancypants dinner event involving Ferris Aircraft. If one had to guess what was going on here, based on how things usually play out in these films, one would have to imagine we’re either seeing the “bad guy makes it personal” start to Act 3 or (more likely) Green Lantern’s public debut on Earth. Big last-minute save, curious stare from initially clueless love-interest, “who was that masked man?,” etc.

2:04 Screaming villain, ring blast into camera, unidentified thingee blows up. Impressively, these three quick shots effectively bring it all together for anyone for whom all of this is new: “Bulgy-Brain-Man is bad, Green-Man is good, Green-Man fights Bulgy-Brain-Man with Magic Ring.”

2:06 – 2:10 We see how Green Lantern suits up, and get our first long full-body shot of Reynolds in uniform. CGI needs a few more passes, but otherwise, yup, that’s The Green Lantern alright.

2:16 Minimalist logo and title in basic white font against color-corrected slo-mo fire, a direct aping of the trailer titles for The Dark Knight. Is this now the uniform title card design for DC heroes?

2:21 – 2:25 More spaceflight, now in costume and with purpose. Our first audible snippet of Reynolds reciting the Green Lantern Oath: “In brightest day, in blackest night…” Whether or not his recitation of the complete oath comes off as worthy of rank alongside “May The Force Be With You,” “Live Long and Prosper” or “With Great Power comes Great Responsibility” will be a key determining factor as to whether the film ultimately works.

In case you’re wondering, the whole thing goes:
“In brightest day, in blackest night,
No evil shall escape my sight
Let those who worship evil’s might,
Beware my power … Green Lantern’s Light!”

Not Seen in the Trailer, But Apparently in the Movie:

John Stewart: aka “The Black Green Lantern you remember from the cartoon.” He’s another military man, a friend of Hal’s. He probably won’t become a Green Lantern in the film, but the character is in there and Nick Jones is playing him.

Senator Hammond: Hector’s father, evidently. Tim Robbins has the part.

Amanda Waller: Yes, she’s in there (played by Angela Bassett) – and if you’re a DC Comics (or even Justice League cartoon) fan, that should be giving you major nerd-wood right about now. See, Waller isn’t specifically a Green Lantern character, she’s a government agent who figures into everyone’s stories here and there. It’s conceivable that her presence here could be used to link the continuity of subsequent DC movies, ala Nick Fury linking Marvel’s Avengers.

Parallax: A “fear demon” older than the universe and the source of Yellow Fear Energy that serves as the dark side to the Lanterns’ Green Willpower Energy. In the comics, he actually possessed Hal and turned him into a genocidal supervillain. It’s unknown what role he/it will play here.

Krona: This one is still only a rumor, but a persistent one. Krona is an ancestor of The Guardians and the Eve/Pandora figure of the DC Universe creation myth. A scientist, he built a machine to look through time at the birth of the universe, but he screwed up and literally broke all of creation, inadvertently creating evil itself and pretty much every big cosmic problem superheroes have been dealing with ever since. If that’s him in The Bubble at 1:14, and that energy blast hitting him is Parallax, and Hammond is futzing with the same Bubble, that could be pretty interesting.

Green Lantern is set to open worldwide in Summer, 2011.

Bob Chipman
Bob Chipman is a critic and author.

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