Ever since the first "X-Men" in 2000, the trend in comic book movie adaptations has been to try to give a sense of realism to costumed superheroes. "Spider-Man," "Iron Man" and especially Christopher Nolan's two "Batman" movies have all tried to tone down the fantastical elements from the source material and bring the characters down to Earth.
It looks like that trend may end next summer with the release of "Green Lantern." Based on the much-loved DC Comics series, this latest superhero movie has aliens, spaceships, and a ring that creates objects out of light. But unlike some more terrestrial heroes, the cosmic explorations of the Green Lantern have always been a major part of the character's appeal.
Take a look at the first trailer for "Green Lantern" starring the newly crowned "Sexiest Man Alive," Ryan Reynolds.
Reynolds plays Hal Jordan, who was actually the second Green Lantern in the comic books starting in 1959. He is a test pilot at Ferris Aircraft alongside Carol Ferris (played by Blake Lively). Jordan discovers where a spacecraft crashes on Earth, and its alien passenger, Abin Sur (Temuera Morrison), passes on his power ring to Jordan before he dies. So Jordan is inducted into the Green Lantern Corps, sort of an interplanetary police force whose rings have the power to create anything they can imagine.
It's still an early trailer, so we only get a few glimpses of the Green Lantern's power, specifically one shot where he punches out three guys with one giant glowing fist. You see the villain Hector Hammond (Peter Sarsgaard) both before and after his head mutates to an enormous size. There is also a brief look at Sinestro (Mark Strong), the purple-skinned Lantern Corps member who starts off as Jordan's ally (but, as comic book readers know, doesn't stay that way).
It's a far cry from the gritty realism of a movie like "The Dark Knight," but that's by design. It also has a lighter tone that gives Reynolds the chance to show off his trademark charm, putting his romantic comedy experience to use in his bantering with Lively. And unlike the brooding, tortured heroes like Christian Bale's Batman or Hugh Jackman's Wolverine, Reynolds seems to be having fun with his superpowers.
Another difference is Green Lantern's costume. Rather than the spandex bodysuits or leathery armor of most movie superheroes, Reynolds was filmed wearing a motion capture suit (much like the actors in "Avatar"), and his costume is entirely created with digital effects. It gives him a sleek, glowing look that could not be acheived by traditional means.
"Green Lantern" arrives in theaters on June 17, 2011.