There's a reason the latest trailer for Green Lantern with Ryan Reynolds carefully spells out the premise for you, possibly spoiling key plot points along the way. He's just a tougher character to pitch to the general public than some of his DC Comics brethren. Tell people they'll believe a man can fly, and they figure out Superman quickly. Show them a billionaire dressed like a bat and little more need be said. But a guy who gets drafted into a space army to wield a super-powered green ring in order to protect the universe from evil? That's a little tougher. So here are five things to prime you for the emerald extravaganza that's just on the horizon...
1. The Character Is Older Than Your Grandpa: Introduced in 1940, Green Lantern is only a year younger than Batman, but he's gone through bigger changes. Originally the character was a railroad engineer named Alan Scott, whose ring was powered by a magic lamp inspired by the legend of Aladdin. In 1956, with sci-fi stories gaining in popularity, the character was revived as Hal Jordan (Ryan Reynolds in the movie), a test pilot who gets his ring from a dying alien named Abin Sur.
2. The Green Lantern Corps Support Diversity in the Workplace: For the guardians of the universe, inducting a human into their ranks counts as affirmative action. In order to wield a ring, one must be without fear, and up until now, a human had never fit the bill. Other members of the group include a sentient planet, a smallpox virus, a cloud of gas, a living mathematical equation and a blind alien with no concept of either green or lanterns who must derive his powers from bell-tones instead. It's a tough crowd, but finally, we're getting our moment to shine.
3. It's Not a Joke: Though Reynolds is primarily known for comedy—even his prior superhero roles in X-Men Origins: Wolverine and Blade: Trinity relied on wisecracks—this isn't a spoof. An early trailer riffed on Reynolds' established persona and goofy catchphrases like, "I know, right!" but that was only because most of the effects weren't ready to show. Producers did consider a comedy version of the character some years back, with Jack Black as a proposed lead, but outraged fans persuaded them this was not a good idea. Plus, Reynolds has dramatic chops: In last year's little-seen Buried, he's the only actor onscreen, and he keeps the viewer's attention the entire time.
4. No Rubber Nipples Here: While the trend among movie superheroes has been toward latex muscle suits, Reynolds never even saw his costume on set, instead wearing a gray motion-capture outfit so a digital Green Lantern costume could be added later. Somewhere, Michael Keaton is seething that this idea wasn't invented years ago.
5. It Could All Go Bad: It looks like in this movie, scientist Hector Hammond (Peter Sarsgaard) takes a turn toward the dark side after touching some bad space debris. He may only be the first: In comics continuity, all the major characters have turned evil at least once. Hal Jordan's love interest Carol Ferris (Blake Lively) can easily become the midriff-baring villainess Star Sapphire. In fact, Jordan himself once became genocidal and deranged with rage and destroyed his fellow corpsmen. And as for his alien mentor...well, the dude's name is Sinestro. That kinda gives it away.