Reynolds Goes Green, But Will There Be a New Big Blue?

by | Jul 11th, 2009 | 7:36PM | Filed under: News

Hal_jordan Late this week Interweb chatter in the geekverse spiked twice. First over the release of the San Diego Comic Con schedule for later this month. It revealed that, due to conference-hall scheduling, James Cameron-worshiping fanboys drooling for a peek at some Avatar footage might have to push and shove in line with rabid Twihards squealing for a New Moon presentation and a possible Bobby Pattinson appearance. Oh, the indignation! Oh, the humanity! Oh, the deadly spread of cooties!

The second web-shaking news was of more interest to the general movie-going public. There had been a month of speculation that Hangover-hot Bradley Cooper was a likely shoo-in to play Hal Jordan in the film adaptation of DC Comic’s Green Lantern. (To be directed by Martin Campbell of the Zorro films, Goldeneye, and Casino Royale.) But then came news this past week that in fact three actors were in contention to wear the Lantern’s Power Ring (not to be confused with Sauron’s Ring of Power—totally different geek rings): Cooper, Ryan Reynolds, and Justin Timberlake.

And on Friday Warner Brothers announced that instead of the presumed Cooper it would be Reynolds playing the hot-shot test pilot-turned-intergalactic cop in the live-action superhero flick. This comes after the word in May that Marvel Films would develop a Deadpool spin-off film from X-Men Origins: Wolverine, with Reynolds reprising his role as the wisecracking, fourth-wall-breaking “merc with a mouth.” Having played Marvel vampire hunter Hannibal King in Blade: Trinity, and once on tap to play DC’s Flash (that project is currently stalled out), Reynolds could now become the first actor ever to play heroes for both Marvel and their long-time rival DC. (UPDATED CORRECTION: As reader Jeremy F. points out, this is not true! Halle Berry played Storm for Marvel in the X-Men films and starred as Catwoman in the kinda horrific DC adaptation.)

Ryanreynolds So, fresh off the success of The Proposal, Reynolds is now being expected to carry two budding superhero franchises? I’ve long been on record as an unabashed Reynolds fan, so I have no problem with him doing either or both masked franchises. And despite lumping them together as “superhero movies,” these are very different characters and stories. Wade Wilson/Deadpool is a sarcastic, manic, pop-culture spouting jester with big guns and swords, whose story will no doubt revolve around down-and-dirty semi-criminal work.

Hal Jordan/Green Lantern is one of the classic DC characters—somewhat temperamental and headstrong (it's that nature that makes him such a galactically renown wielder of the ring, which amplifies willpower), but overall a noble heroic companion to Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman. (Except for that one time when he went insane and tried to destroy the Earth and then died. But he got better.) And hopefully the Lantern film will primarily be an outer-space action tale.

My only hope is that the no-doubt grueling, time-consuming task of appearing in simultaneous big-budget, big-effects, action movies doesn’t severely limit Reynolds’ ability to keep doing the occasionally comedies or rom-coms where he's so good. After all, look what happened to Christian Bale: he becomes both Batman and John Connor and suddenly you just never see him in lighthearted, charming romantic comedy roles anymore… like American Psycho or The Machinist.

And follow over the jump for the confused current state of the Superman film franchise.

There was also speculation that Superman might make a cameo appearance in The Green Lantern film, as DC starts to take pages from Marvel’s new film handbook: letting its heroes pop up in each others' films, possibly to set up an eventual Justice League of America super-group film (with Supes, Bats, GL, Wonder Woman, and the Flash, plus Aquaman and Martian Manhunter?), a la Marvel’s Avengers movie plan.

Action oneAmidst those rumors came a ruling from a U.S. District Court judge limiting the profits that Warner Brothers Studio and DC Comics have to share from recent Superman films with the heirs of Superman creators Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster. This is a big win for the studio and publisher and a big loss for the Siegel and Shuster estates.

I won’t get into all the legal details and history, but as you probably know, DC screwed Siegel and Shuster out of their fair share of Superman profits for decades. (Siegel died in 1996, Shuster in 1992.) Their families are now fighting for those profits, both from the sale of comic-book material and any TV or films based on Superman.

Last year the same Judge, Stephen G. Larson, awarded the families half the Superman copyright. But the plaintiffs were accusing Warners and DC (fellow subsidiaries of Time-Warner)of recently making “sweetheart deals” for Smallville and Superman Returns that hid the real profits from those projects. (Obviously, profits from Superman film and TV projects greatly outweigh the cash brought in by sales of comic books and other printed materials.) The judge also set a trial date for December to determine how the rest of the profits will be allocated to the heirs.

While this isn’t the best news for the Siegel and Shuster families, it may be good news for fans of live-action Superman films, as the decision frees Warners up to go ahead and make a follow up to Bryan Singer’s 2006 Superman Returns.

Thing is, it may not be Bryan Singers’ much-anticipated sequel. Singer had said he had hoped his second Superman flick would be comparable to Star Trek: Wrath of Khan, ditching the stifling, kinda ponderously reverent tone of Superman Returns for more bang-up, heart-pounding action and adventure. 

Supermanreturns But Singer’s one-time Superman star, Brandon Routh, recently told Brazilian pop-culture site that his Superman contract has expired and while he wants to put the cape and tights back on, everything is up in the air, so to speak. This news comes a year after Warners said they may reboot Superman, a la Nolan’s Batman or what Marvel did last summer with The Incredible Hulk. Again, the idea appears to be to mimic the Marvel Avengers multi-franchise plan. Whether director Singer would be involved with such a do-over remains unclear.

I’m mixed on the idea of a Singer-less Superman. It took so long to finally get Superman Returns out of development and onto the screen—I think everyone involved, fans included, would hate to go through all that again. (With what? A fresh round of Nicolas Cage, Brett Ratner, and McG rumors?) I didn’t hate Superman Returns, though I do feel that while Singer’s meticulous devotion to being faithful and respectful to Richard Donner's Superman created some lovely moments, it also dragged things down a bit. But I like to think Singer could have really gotten a hold of a rollicking, fun sequel and done something amazingly entertaining.

I also didn’t mind Routh, but can’t say I’d care if he stayed or went. And before we go nuts trying to recast the Big Blue Boy Scout, I think the studio will still be looking for an unknown to wear the tights. Bottom line, unknowns are cheap and easy to lock into multi-film contracts. On the other hand, the trend lately has been to bring known and very talented young(ish) actors in for these roles, such as Bale, Downey Jr., and Norton. So maybe Warners will look for a more familiar, more talented face. Uh, how about Bradley Cooper? Justin Timberlake?

So, Reynolds as Green Lantern? And Reynolds as Deadpool? And a new Superman without Routh? Maybe without Singer? How’s everyone feel about all this? And who do we want as Superman?

15 Responses to “Reynolds Goes Green, But Will There Be a New Big Blue?”

  1. Trevor Levine
    Posted on July 11, 2009 at 9:46 pm

    I’m stoked about Reynolds returning as Deadpool, but I’d rather have seen Cooper as the Green Lantern. I hope Singer returns for Superman, but have always thought Routh was to scrawny to play Superman.

  2. Jeremy F
    Posted on July 12, 2009 at 8:45 am

    not true on a first for a actor to play marvel and dc. did we forget halley berry playing storm(marvel) and her playing catwoman(dc)

  3. Locke Peterseim
    Posted on July 12, 2009 at 12:15 pm

    Whoa!!! Jeremy is absolutely RIGHT! So did I forget Berry as Storm/Catwoman out of unintentional fanboy sexism (thinking only of GUY heroes?) or because we’ve all tried SO hard to forget the Catwoman film every existed?
    Either way, thanks for the sharp correction, Jeremy!

  4. Trevor Levine
    Posted on July 12, 2009 at 1:02 pm

    Since when was Berry an actor? I thought she was an actress.

  5. Locke Peterseim
    Posted on July 12, 2009 at 1:12 pm

    Trevor, if you’re trying to give me a language loophole to wiggle out of my oversight, I appreciate it!
    But, I tend to use “actor” as a non-gender-specific term when speaking of the craft in general. Male or female, they are all “actors.” Or in other words, all actresses are actors, not all actors are actresses.
    So Jeremy was right, I was wrong. :)

  6. Jeremy F
    Posted on July 12, 2009 at 7:20 pm

    i hope singer doesnt return for superman, he totally butchered the franchise imo. i mean c’mon….this is SUPERMAN, mr goody goody all right perfect. i mean think about it…hes drinking a beer with jimmy, an ILLEGITAMATE child? and before anyone talks about him being drunk in one of the older movies, remember…he wasnt himself.
    but i really did have a problem with him having a son. i could go off on a kevin smith rant from mallrats….which i sorta agree with…but this is comic/movies…not a real medical issue, but a son outta wedlock…c’mon singer…go back and make the 4th x-men and get that franchise going again….

  7. Fiirvoen (Jason)
    Posted on July 13, 2009 at 10:12 am

    If you dangle Timberlake in my face one more time, I will drive to Illinois to punch you in the mouth.
    …then apologize and take you to Chipotle for lunch.
    But seriously, I’m now having trouble keeping down my breakfast at the prospect. shudder.

  8. Fiirvoen (Jason)
    Posted on July 13, 2009 at 10:17 am

    “But, I tend to use “actor” as a non-gender-specific term when speaking of the craft in general. Male or female, they are all “actors.” Or in other words, all actresses are actors, not all actors are actresses.”
    I thought the term “actress” has been shunned journalistically due to possible sexism.
    As for Green Lantern, I think Cooper has the personality. Reynolds is too snarky for the role. Cooper has (or at least is capable of) that “noble hero” look and feel.

  9. Peter K
    Posted on July 13, 2009 at 3:46 pm

    GAH! Love Reynolds, but not for Hal! He’s great as Dead Pool. Ahh well. I guess I have to hope for one of them to fail. Now that the lead is sewn up, who’s the villain? Has to be Sinestro. I always thought Brendan Fraser would make an incredible Hal Jordan. For that matter, he’d make a superb Supes.
    For the record the Singer Superman blew. Too much lovey dovey. Just make a damn hero film and quit with the sub-plots. Get the action going and develop character in the sequels! Let JJ Abrams take on the DC Universe… give him a multi-pix multi hero deal and let ‘er rip! Dc has never had the edge Marvel has, their heroes have always been hokey, campy and incredibly self-righteous… (Batman excluded, except for the self-righteous part) Abrams would bring them an edge and sense of seriousness they’ve never been able to achieve in print.

  10. Locke Peterseim
    Posted on July 13, 2009 at 6:37 pm

    Yes, Peter, I’d think it’d be Sinestro for Green Lantern, right? I mean Superman’s got Luther, Bats has the Joker, GL has Sinestro. My guess is the first film would encompass Abin Sur passing the ring to Hal, Hal and Sinestro’s close student-mentor relationship, and then the Fall of Sinestro. (And really, with a name like “Sinestro,” who WOULDN’T see the fall comin’?)
    Though maybe just do the first film as a space epic with Sinestro and Hal still best of friends and save the Fall of Sinestro for a second film? And bring Guy Gardner in somewhere along the second film? Or would that be overkill?
    Fraser is probably getting a bit past the age window for Superman, but a decade or so ago (back when we FIRST started going on this whole Superman reboot kick) a good friend and Superman FANATIC was ALWAYS pushing Frasier for Supes–now he wants Dwayne Johnson.
    I thought Singer did a wonderful job with the epic, legendary side of Superman and it LOOKED lovely. But yeah, it dragged. To be honest, I love that first TRAILER for Superman Returns MUCH MUCH more than the finished film.
    Of course, Abrams DID do a Superman script re-write, infamously NOT blowing up Krypton. I agree he’d be a fine choice, but I think he has his hands full with Star Trek for the next few years.
    According to MTV SplashPage, today Warners announced their film slate and release schedule for the next couple years and a new Superman is nowhere in sight for 2011. I fear the franchise is headed back into revolving-door development hell… So maybe there WILL be time for Abrams to do a couple more Star Treks and then take over Superman for a 2018 release. Sigh.
    However, the story points out that part of the judge’s settlement on the case stipulates that while Warners doesn’t owe the S&S families any damages for Superman Returns and Smallville, IF a new Superman isn’t in production by 2011, the families can seek new damages. Which means a new Superman film has to be in PRODUCTION by 2011, but the earliest it’d hit screens would be 2012. (The Green Lantern movie is scheduled for a June, 2011 release.)
    I do disagree about DC heroes being campy–certainly the TV Batman was–and yes, sometimes the classic DC costumes can look a little gaudy. But I’d say the problem is more “stuffy” than campy. Stan Lee’s inspiration for the flawed humanity of the early Marvel heroes was that the DC ones often had epic sticks up their behinds–they were so iconic and upright they couldn’t really breathe or be related to as CHARACTERS. Especially at the dawn the ’60s, with the rise of an anti-Establishment counter-culture. (And there’s hardly anyone MORE representative of the Establishment than Supes–as Frank Miller made clear in The Dark Knight Returns.)

  11. Locke Peterseim
    Posted on July 13, 2009 at 6:48 pm

    And Jason, as fun as it might be to use Timberlake as a punchline (and believe me, I’m the FIRST to use silly pop figures as punchlines), he DOES have acting chops–I thought he was very good in both Alpha Dog and Black Snake Moan. No, I didn’t see him as Hal Jordan (or, LOL, Superman), but I WOULD like to see him take bigger film roles, both dramatic and comedic.
    I do, however, LOVE Chipotle and can be easily bribed and/or appeased with chicken burritos.

  12. Locke Peterseim
    Posted on July 13, 2009 at 9:10 pm

    Of course the very BEST answer for just about ANY of the male, non-Aquaman DC heroes–Superman, Green Lantern, Batman is…
    Gregory Peck.
    Someone get to work on the exhuming and reanimating…

  13. SuperTal
    Posted on July 14, 2009 at 9:32 am

    Come on guys, we all know Tom Welling will make the best Superman. I can see a movie coming out after Smallville Season 9 title Metropolis followed in a couple of years with the Justice League.

  14. Fiirvoen (Jason)
    Posted on July 14, 2009 at 10:39 am

    “he DOES have acting chops” That may be true, but all I see is that creepy guy with the too-curly hair from N’Synch. shudder.
    Oooh, Aquaman! Now that would be interesting! Make it a Global Warming flick about oceanic acidification! Of course, the casting for the hero would be tricky… My pick: Al Gore or Matthew McConogh…McCona…you know who I mean.

  15. Jeremy F
    Posted on July 14, 2009 at 7:45 pm

    c’mon people, we all know that Vincent Chase is the ONLY Aquaman! :P