The film first entered development in 1997; progress remained stalled until Greg Berlanti was hired to write and direct in October 2007. Martin Campbell was brought on board in February 2009 after Berlanti was forced to vacate the director's position. Most of the live-action actors were cast between July 2009 and February 2010, and filming took place from March to August 2010 in Louisiana. The film was converted to 3D during its post-production stage.
Billions of years ago, beings called the Guardians of the Universe used the green essence of willpower to create an intergalactic police force called the Green Lantern Corps. They divided the universe into 3600 sectors, with one Green Lantern per sector. One such Green Lantern, Abin Sur of Sector 2814, defeated the malevolent being Parallax and imprisoned him in the Lost Sector on the desolate planet Ryut. In the present day, Parallax escapes from his prison after becoming strengthened by an encounter with crash survivors on the planet, feeding on their fear to gain strength before pursuing and nearly killing Abin Sur, who escapes and crash-lands on Earth where he commands his power ring to find a worthy successor.
Hal Jordan, a cocky test pilot working at Ferris Aircraft, is chosen by the ring and transported to the crash site, where the dying Abin Sur appoints him a Green Lantern, telling him to take the lantern and speak the oath. Jordan says the oath and is whisked away to the Green Lantern Corps home planet of Oa, where he meets and trains with veteran Corps members Tomar-Re and Kilowog and Corps leader Sinestro, who believes he is unfit and fearful. Jordan quits and returns to Earth, keeping the power ring and lantern.
Scientist Hector Hammond is summoned by his father, Senator Robert Hammond, to a secret government facility to perform an autopsy on Abin Sur's body, under the watchful eye of Amanda Waller. A piece of Parallax inside the corpse enters Hammond, giving him telepathic and telekinetic powers at the cost of his sanity. After discovering that he was chosen for the secret work only due to his father's influence, Hammond attempts to kill his father by telekinetically sabotaging his helicopter at a party. Jordan saves the senator and the party guests, including his childhood sweetheart Carol Ferris. Back at the government facility, Hammond uses telekenisis to successfully kill his father by burning him alive. Hammond also elevates Waller high above the floor. As she's falling, Jordan saves the injured Waller by creating a pool of water which whisks her away out of further danger. During the encounter Jordan learns of Parallax coming to Earth.
On Oa, the Guardians tell Sinestro that Parallax was one of their own until he desired to control the yellow essence of fear, only to become corrupted by fear itself. Arguing that the way to fight fear is by fear itself, Sinestro requests that the Guardians forge a ring of the same yellow power, preparing to concede Earth's destruction to Parallax in order to protect Oa. Jordan appears and tries to convince the Guardians that fear will turn the users evil if its power is used, but they reject his pleas, and he returns to Earth to try to defeat Parallax On his own.
Returning to Earth as the Lantern, Jordan saves Ferris from Hammond after a brief showdown. Parallax arrives, consumes Hammond's entire life force and then wreaks havoc on Coast City. After a fierce battle, with new-found strength, Jordan lures Parallax away from Earth and toward the Sun, destroying and killing Parallax. He loses consciousness after the battle and falls toward the sun, but is saved by Sinestro, Kilowog, and Tomar-Re.
The entire Green Lantern Corps congratulates Jordan for his bravery. Sinestro tells Jordan he now bears the responsibility of protecting his sector as a Green Lantern.
In a mid-credits scene, Sinestro steals the yellow ring and places it on his finger, causing his green suit and eyes to turn yellow.Ryan Reynolds as Hal Jordan / Green Lantern:
A test pilot for the Ferris Aircraft Company whose will to act qualifies him to become the first earthman ever inducted into an intergalactic peacekeeping force fueled by green energy of will. Reynolds said, "I've known about 'Green Lantern' my whole life, but I've never really followed it before. I fell in love with the character when I met with Martin Campbell". Reynolds called the film "an origin story to a certain degree, but it's not a labored origin story, where the movie begins in the third act. The movie starts when it starts. We find out Hal is the guy fairly early on, and the adventure begins". Alternatively Chris Pine and Sam Worthington had been in discussions for the role. Bradley Cooper, Jared Leto and Justin Timberlake were other top contenders, while Brian Austin Green, a Green Lantern
fan, campaigned for the part, but ultimately did not audition.Gattlin Griffith as young Hal Jordan.
Blake Lively as Carol Ferris:
The vice president of Ferris Aircraft and a long-time love interest of Hal Jordan. One pseudonymous writer citing unnamed sources said Lively was among five leading contenders that included Eva Green, Keri Russell, Diane Kruger and Jennifer Garner. About her stunt work in which she rehearsed with stunt coordinator Gary Powell (Casino Royale
, The Bourne Ultimatum
, Quantum of Solace
), gymnastic acrobats from Cirque du Soleil
and used aerial stunt rigs created for The Matrix
, Lively explained, "Our director likes it real—the fights close and dirty... I'm 40 feet in the air, spiraling around. That's the best workout you can ever do because it's all core... You do that for ten minutes and you should see your body the next day! It's so exhilarating, so thrilling—and nauseating".Jena Craig as young Carol Ferris.
Peter Sarsgaard as Dr. Hector Hammond:
A scientist who is exposed to the yellow energy of fear from Parallax, which causes his brain to grow to an enormous size and grants him psionic powers. Regarding his preparation for the role, Sarsgaard stated, "I actually did hang with this biologist from Tulane that was I think just the most eccentric guy they could find. He was entertaining, and he and I actually worked on my lecture that I give in [Green Lantern
]." About his character Sarsgaard remarked, "He's got shades of gray. It's eccentricity on top of eccentricity".Kennon Kepper as young Hector Hammond.
Mark Strong as Thaal Sinestro / Green Lantern:
A Green Lantern and Hal Jordan's mentor. Strong affirmed that the film will follow the origin story, "the film closely follows the early comics. Sinestro starts out as Hal Jordan’s mentor, slightly suspicious and not sure of him because obviously Hal is the first human being who’s made into a Green Lantern. He's certainly very strict and unsure of the wisdom of Hal becoming a Green Lantern". Strong said, the character "is a military guy but isn't immediately bad. It's the kind of person that lends himself to becoming bad over the course of the comics being written, but initially he’s quite a heroic figure." He also revealed that the outfit and other aspects of the character very closely follow the character's early days, "That widow's peak and thin mustache was for some reason originally based on David Niven... So I would like to do justice to the Sinestro that was conceived for the comic books".
Angela Bassett as Dr. Amanda Waller:
A former congressional aide and government agent. About the differences between the comic book and film character Bassett said, "Well, I’m not 300lbs," but added that her character does have "that intellectual, that bright, that no-nonsense, that means business [personality]. [She's] getting it done and in the trenches nothing fazes her".
Tim Robbins as Robert Hammond:
A United States senator and the father of the movie's human villain, Hector Hammond.
Temuera Morrison as Abin Sur / Green Lantern:
A Green Lantern who crash lands on Earth and recruits Hal Jordan as his replacement. Morrison said it took four to five hours to put on the prosthetic makeup for the character. About filming with Ryan Reynolds, Morrison commented, "We did the whole scene together where I give him the ring, our suits are CGI so we had these grey suits with things on them so it was cool and working with Martin Campbell again was great too".
Geoffrey Rush as the voice of Tomar-Re / Green Lantern:
A bird-beaked member of the Green Lantern Corps who teaches Hal Jordan how to use his cosmic powers. Rush stated he was not initially familiar with Green Lantern but was drawn to the part after seeing the concept art explaining, "When I got the offer for it I said, ‘Haven’t they made that film?’ They said, ‘No, it’s a completely computer-generated character.’ I saw the artwork and I said, I would love to be that guy. Because I had voiced an owl in Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole
and I’d voiced a pelican in Finding Nemo
and I thought I could really improve on that now by being half-bird, half-fish, part lizard. You don’t get to do that in a live-action film." Rush compared the role to previous roles where he played a mentoring figure, "You could say that I’ve mentored Queen Elizabeth I as [Sir Francis] Walsingham, and [Leon] Trotsky has mentored Frida Kahlo and now Tomar Re is going to mentor Hal Jordan, and I was sort of mentoring King George VI in The King's Speech
. But I can’t imagine Tomar Re setting up an office on Harley Street in London. They’re all very different people to me, but there is a kind of theme I suppose".
Michael Clarke Duncan as the voice of Kilowog / Green Lantern:
A drill sergeant trainer of new recruits for the Green Lantern Corps. About the character, Duncan, a fan of the comic book, stated, "He's a real type of tough guy who knows everything, and actually in one of the comic books he and Superman fought to a tie".
Taika Waititi as Thomas Kalmaku:
An Inuit engineer at Ferris Aircraft. Waititi said he was cast after a Warner Bros. casting agent saw his performance in Boy
, which he also wrote and directed. Waititi – who has a Jewish mother and Maori father – says the production "had an opening for a role in the film for someone who wasn't, I don't [know], not-white or not-black."
Clancy Brown as the voice of Parallax:
An entity made up of the yellow energy of fear, Parallax was imprisoned by Abin Sur after breaking into the physical plane by possessing the body of a former Guardian of the Universe.
Additionally, Jon Tenney plays Martin Jordan, Hal Jordan's father; Jay O. Sanders portrays Carl Ferris, an aircraft designer and father of Carol Ferris; Mike Doyle is cast as Jack Jordan, Hal Jordan's older brother; and Nick Jandl is cast as Jim Jordan, Hal Jordan's younger brother.
Actors Ryan Reynolds and Blake Lively met while filming Green Lantern and began dating after it was completed; they married in 2012.
In early 1997, Warner Bros. approached cult filmmaker and comic book writer Kevin Smith, who had then just finished writing Superman Lives, to script a Green Lantern film. Smith turned down the offer, believing there were more suitable candidates to make a Green Lantern film. At one point Quentin Tarantino was offered the chance to write and direct. Warner also considered the property as an action comedy; by 2004, Robert Smigel had completed a script which was set to star Jack Black in the lead role. However, the studio dropped the comedy idea following poor fan reaction from the Internet. David S. Goyer was offered the chance to write and direct either a Green Lantern or Flash film after Warner Bros. was impressed with his screenplay for Batman Begins, but he opted to direct the latter. Actor-writer Corey Reynolds, a comic book fan of the John Stewart character, pitched Warner an idea for a trilogy, with him starring as John Stewart and performing screenwriting duties. Reynolds intended to introduce Hal Jordan, the Green Lantern Corps and Justice League in possible sequels. He finished the script for Green Lantern: Birth of a Hero in June 2007, receiving positive feedback from Warner Bros. with a potential 2010 release date. However, the studio abandoned Reynolds' concept, and in October 2007, Greg Berlanti signed to direct the film and co-write it with comic-book writers Michael Green and Marc Guggenheim. A draft of the trio's 2008 script, leaked on the Internet, revealed a story that included the hero's origin and included the characters Carol Ferris, Kilowog, Sinestro, and Guy Gardner in a cameo appearance, and appeared "to set up Hector Hammond as Hal Jordan's ... first major nemesis...." Shortly afterward, Guggenheim said that the script would contain characterizations inspired by the Denny O'Neil-Neal Adams run on the comic in the 1970s, and Dave Gibbons' work in the early 1980s. He added that he and his co-writers also looked to the 2000s Geoff Johns stories, saying, "It’s been interesting because we finished a draft just before [Johns'] 'Secret Origin' [story arc] started up. "So I’ve been reading 'Secret Origin' with a real interest in seeing 'OK, how did Geoff solve this problem?' There are certain elements just for anyone trying to retell Hal’s origin for a modern day audience has to address and grapple with. For example, why the hell was Abin [Sur] flying in a space ship when he's a Green Lantern? You don't ask that question back in the Silver Age, but when you're writing in the Modern Age, you have to answer these things."
By December 2008, the writers had written three drafts of the screenplay and Warner was preparing for pre-production. However, Berlanti was forced to vacate the director's position when Warner Bros. attached him to This Is Where I Leave You, and in February 2009, Martin Campbell entered negotiations to direct. The release date was set as December 2010, before being moved to June 17, 2011.
Bradley Cooper, Ryan Reynolds, Justin Timberlake, and Jared Leto were the producers' top choices for the starring role in July 2009. On July 10, Warner announced that Reynolds had been cast as Hal Jordan/Green Lantern. A website reported on January 7, 2010, that a crew-member had written on her blog that the film was greenlit the day before and that filming would begin in 10 weeks. Also in January, Blake Lively was cast as Carol Ferris, Peter Sarsgaard was in negotiations to portray Hector Hammond, and Mark Strong was in negotiations to play Sinestro. In February, Tim Robbins joined the cast as Senator Hammond. The following month, New Zealanders Temuera Morrison and Taika Waititi had joined the cast as Abin Sur and Tom Kalmaku, respectively.
With a production budget of $200 million, Green Lantern was initially scheduled to begin filming in November 2009 at Fox Studios Australia. The start date was pushed back to January 2010, but the production moved to Louisiana, where, on March 3, 2010, test footage was filmed in Madisonville involving stunt cars. Principal photography began on March 15, 2010 in New Orleans. Nine days after filming began, Angela Bassett joined the cast as Dr. Amanda Waller, a government agent who is a staple of the DC Comics universe.
In April 2010, Jon Tenney revealed that he would play Hal Jordan's father, test pilot Martin H. Jordan. By June 2010 filming had begun at New Orleans Lakefront Airport. In the same month it was reported that Mike Doyle has been cast for the role of Jack Jordan, the older brother of Hal Jordan. In July 2010 it was reported that Ryan Reynolds was injured while shooting scenes for the film, separating his shoulder and was in "lots of pain".
While promoting Deadpool (in which Reynolds portrays another famous comic book superhero), Reynolds said that filming Green Lantern itself had been frustrating, "You really need a visionary behind a movie like that, but it was the classic studio story: "We have a poster, but we don't have a script or know what we want; let's start shooting!" The Deadpool film itself references Reynolds' time as Green Lantern in two scenes, the opening scene which features a drawing of Green Lantern, and a later scene where his character (who has the ability to Break the fourth wall) insists that his suit be neither "green, or animated!"
Geoff Johns confirmed on his Twitter account that the film had ended principal photography on August 6, 2010 and entered post-production. In an interview with MTV News, director Martin Campbell when asked about the film's effects-heavy epic scale commented; "It's daunting, just the process, (there are) something like 1,300 visual shots, it's mind-blowing, quite honestly". When asked about the constructs created from the power rings Campbell stated; "One of the nice things is, we'll all sit down and say, 'Well, what are we going to do here?' Really, it's as much as your imagination can go to make the constructs". The studio also confirmed to MTV News that the film would have a 3-D release.
In January 2011, it was reported that Green Lantern had begun re-shoots for key scenes at Warner Bros. Studios in Los Angeles, California. In March 2011 it was reported that Geoffrey Rush had joined the cast as the voice of the CGI-created character, Tomar-Re.
In April 2011, Michael Clarke Duncan entered negotiations to voice Kilowog. Also in April it was reported that Warner Bros. raised the visual effects budget by $9 million and hired additional visual effects studios to bolster the ranks of the team that had been working overtime to meet the film's June 17 launch.
The soundtrack was released in stores on June 14, 2011. The soundtrack was composed by James Newton Howard, who also worked on the other Warner Bros/DC Comics based films Batman Begins and The Dark Knight with Hans Zimmer. The soundtrack was published by WaterTower Music.
The world premiere of Green Lantern took place on June 15, 2011 at Grauman's Chinese Theatre in Hollywood, California, and was released in North America and the UK two days later on June 17.
Green Lantern was released on DVD and Blu-ray on October 14, 2011. The Blu-ray release includes an extended cut, which adds an extra nine minutes of footage to the running time, totaling 123 minutes.
Marketing and promotion of the film cost $100 million. The first footage of the film was shown at the 2010 San Diego Comic-Con. The footage was widely released online in November 2010 with thirty seconds of footage airing the following day on Entertainment Tonight. The first full theatrical trailer for the film was shown before screenings of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 1 and became available online in November 2010. This initial trailer was met with a poor reception from fans and, as a result, the film's marketing campaign was delayed. Sue Kroll, the studio's worldwide marketing president stated, "Part of the reason the response to the first trailer was lukewarm was that the big-scale sequences weren't ready to show, and we suffered for it. We can't afford to do that again." In April Warner Bros. debuted nine minutes of footage at the 2011 WonderCon in San Francisco. The Hollywood Reporter reported that the footage wowed the audience. A four-minute cut of the WonderCon footage was later released online.
In March 2010, Comics Continuum reported that an animated Green Lantern film was in the works at Warner Bros. Animation and would be part of a direct-to-video project that was timed for release of the live-action Green Lantern movie in the summer of 2011. The Green Lantern animated project would likely take a look at the origins of the Green Lantern Corps, including the first ring wielders. In an interview with Bruce Timm, the producer revealed that a sequel to the Green Lantern animated movie had been discussed but cancelled because of the picture not achieving the immediate success that they had hoped for. However, Timm did hope the live-action film would renew interest in a sequel. The animated movie entitled Green Lantern: Emerald Knights was officially announced in June 2010 instead.
DC Entertainment began releasing a series of Green Lantern Movie Prequel comics the week before the film was released, covering the lives of the characters before the events of the film, written by members of the film's production team. Five comics were made, covering Tomar-Re by Marc Guggenheim, Kilowog by Peter J. Tomasi, Abin Sur by Michael Green, Hal Jordan by Greg Berlanti and Sinestro by Michael Goldenberg and Geoff Johns. A free excerpt of the Sinestro prequel comic was released online as "Secret Origin of the Green Lantern Corps #1" two days before the release of the film.
Six Flags debuted two roller coasters named Green Lantern at Great Adventure and Magic Mountain in 2011 to coincide with the film's release. A third ride, Green Lantern Coaster, also opened in November of the same year at Warner Bros. Movie World in Australia. Although this ride was more based on the original comic.
Warner Bros. Interactive produced a tie-in video game, Green Lantern: Rise of the Manhunters, for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 by Double Helix Games, with versions for the Nintendo Wii, the Nintendo DS and the Nintendo 3DS by Griptonite Games.
Green Lantern opened on Friday, June 17, 2011 in North America, earning $3.4 million in 1,180 midnight runs. The film went on to gross $21,386,523 its opening day, but fell 22% on Saturday for a weekend total of $53,174,303, earning it the No. 1 spot. In its second weekend Green Lantern experienced a 66.1% decline, which was the largest second weekend decline for a superhero film in 2011. Green Lantern grossed $116,601,172 in the U.S. and Canada as well as $103,250,000 internationally bringing its worldwide total to $219,851,172.
Many industry analysts felt that Green Lantern "failed to perform to expectations". The Hollywood Reporter speculated that Green Lantern needed to make approximately $500 million to be considered financially solid.
Green Lantern received generally negative reviews from critics. Rotten Tomatoes gives the film an approval rating of 26% based on 226 reviews with an average rating of 4.6/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "Noisy, overproduced, and thinly written, Green Lantern squanders an impressive budget and decades of comics mythology." On Metacritic, the film has a score of 39 out of 100 based on reviews from 39 critics, indicating "generally unfavorable reviews". Audiences surveyed by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "B" on an A+ to F scale.
Justin Chang of Variety gave Green Lantern a mixed review, stating, "Martin Campbell's visually lavish sci-fi adventure is a highly unstable alloy of the serious, the goofy and the downright derivative." Manohla Dargis of The New York Times said, "Green Lantern is bad. This despite Ryan Reynolds's dazzling dentistry, hard-body physique and earnest efforts, and the support of fine performers like Peter Sarsgaard ... Mark Strong ... and Angela Bassett". Christy Lemire of the Associated Press called it a "joyless amalgamation of expository dialogue and special effects that aren't especially special." Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times had mixed feelings, stating, "Green Lantern does not intend to be plausible. It intends to be a sound-and-light show, assaulting the audience with sensational special effects. If that's what you want, that's what you get." British newspaper The Telegraph named The Green Lantern one of the ten worst films of 2011.
Conversely, Todd McCarthy of The Hollywood Reporter gave it a positive review, saying the film "serves up all the requisite elements with enough self-deprecating humor to suggest it doesn't take itself too seriously". Reviewer Leonard Maltin felt that "the film offers a dazzling array of visual effects, a likable hero, a beautiful leading lady, a colorful villain, and a good backstory. It also doesn’t take itself too seriously." Kenneth Turan of the Los Angeles Times said, "More science-fiction space opera than superhero epic, it works in fits and starts as its disparate parts go in and out of effectiveness, but the professionalism of the production make it watchable in a comic book kind of way".
In 2010, director Martin Campbell confirmed the possibility of a Green Lantern trilogy. Warner Bros. originally planned on Green Lantern being the first entry of a new DC film franchise, and commissioned a script for a sequel from Greg Berlanti, Michael Green, and Marc Guggenheim while filming for the first film was underway. In August 2010, Michael Goldenberg was still attached to write the screenplay, based on the sequel treatment. The scene in the film's end credits showing a resurgence of the yellow power ring of fear, with Thaal Sinestro becoming corrupted by its dark power, teased the planned sequel. In September 2011 Warner Bros., dismayed by the film's negative reviews and disappointing box office return, abandoned plans for sequels.
In June 2013, David S. Goyer confirmed that Man of Steel is the first film in the DC Extended Universe. This confirmed that should the Green Lantern property be featured in an upcoming DC film, it will be a rebooted version. Later that year Goyer stated that he had interest in making a new feature film based on the titular character. In July 2015, Warner Bros announced plans to release a solo Green Lantern film titled Green Lantern Corps, with a release date scheduled for June 19, 2020. The film will be the eleventh installment of the DC Extended Universe. Hal Jordan and John Stewart will reportedly be the Green Lanterns focused on in the movie. In January 2016, it was reported that Goyer and Justin Rhodes will be writing the film's script and will also produce the film, with Geoff Johns and Jon Berg as executive producers.