As with every superhero movie, the "Green Lantern" filmmakers knew that the fans' greatest concern was likely to be the visual representation of the world they know and love from the comics. Campbell and his creative team, led by production designer Grant Major, set out to make every location from Coast City to Oa, and each character from Abin Sur to Sinestro, just right. To that end, they took pains to faithfully recreate every detail and to enhance the imagery for the big-screen experience.
Co-producer and Green Lantern specialist Geoff Johns declares, "The first time I saw the production art, what they planned to do with the Corps and Oa and the Guardians, I was blown away. It was exactly what anyone who loves Green Lantern would dream of; my dreams for the film were realized when I saw it."
One of the oldest planets in the galaxies, the fictional Oa serves as headquarters for a race of omniscient humanoids who have dubbed themselves the Guardians of the Universe, a supreme court of sorts, who supervise the Green Lantern Corps. Oa also holds the Central Battery, the source of all energy, including the energy for the Green Lantern rings.
"Think of the universe as a sphere divided into 3,600 sectors," Johns explains. "Each sector is a kind of pie wedge, all pointing to Oa."
"Even though Oa is completely digital," Campbell says, "the design had to be organic and believable. And because it is alien, it couldn't be Earth-like in any way; the only thing from Earth would be Hal, when he arrives there. Everything else had to be fantastical, while at the same time plausible."
Major felt one of his tasks was "to make audiences believe that they were on Oa, going through this discovery with Hal. It had to have gravity and weight. We didn't want it to feel like being in a dream, but rather like an alternate reality."
The production designer relied on the film's researcher and resident comic book expert, Ozzy Inguanzo, who compiled everything the filmmakers would need to know to design the film.
"I immersed myself in over 50 years of Green Lantern comics," Inguanzo says, "I worked hard to respect the integrity of the source material and to get even the smallest details into the film, for the diehard fans, and I now include myself among them."
"It was critical to have someone on our team who was aware of everything Green Lantern, and Ozzy was terrific from the word 'go,'" Major says.
Once the overall look of Oa was established, two areas of the planet's vast terrain had to be created: the Citadel, where the Guardians reign; and the Great Hall, where Hal and the audience would get to see the gathering of the entire Lantern federation--and where avid readers of the comics will recognize many of their favorite members of the Corps.
Those integral set pieces would ultimately be accomplished through CGI; however, Major's design team did construct large-scale models of each set to serve as reference points for Campbell's staging of the scenes. The visual effects team, supervised by John "DJ" DesJardin, then turned the sets into a virtual reality, where the action unfolded.
In addition to the otherworldly places, the effects team was also charged with bringing to life thousands of otherworldly characters, including Tomar-Re, Kilowog and the rest of the Green Lantern Corps. One of the most prominent characters was the Corps' most formidable adversary, Parallax, who was entirely computer-generated.
"It was critical to convey the scope of Parallax's power and malevolence, because his entire existence depends on inducing fear," DesJardin says.
Back on Earth, the film would require a number of practical sets as well, which were achieved entirely in and around New Orleans. Major's teams designed and built both Hal's and Hector's apartments, the latter of which Major describes as "the type of space that he probably had as an undergraduate student, but never really left, so there are layers upon layers of his quiet, introverted life all around him."
They also built Ferris Aviation's office suite, which was influenced by the art deco terminal at the area's Lakefront Airport; a party sequence dance floor and stage, for which the production actually utilized the airport exterior itself; and the steely underground bunker laboratory where Hector autopsies the body of Abin Sur, inspired by a visit to NASA and a massive building which houses fuel tanks for the space shuttles.
On a much smaller, but no less significant, scale, Major's art department was also responsible for the design of two iconic props for the story: Hal Jordan's ring and lantern.
Although they'd been careful to adhere closely to the comics for most of the film's design work, Major wanted the lantern to take its cue from the script. "I wanted it to be a bit mysterious, and to look like it originated from Oa," the designer shares. He and key concept illustrator Fabian Lacey, to whom Major credits the final look, drew inspiration for a portion of the lantern from the Fresnel lens, devised in 1823 by the French physicist and engineer of the same name.
"The whole sense of willpower being part of the emotional spectrum, and green representing that particular emotion on the color spectrum, became a component of the lantern, which reflects something of a prismatic lens motif," Major illustrates.
Property master Andrew Petrotta took the final design and created eight copies out of resin, four battery-powered and four electric, each approximately 13 inches high and weighing about eight pounds. He then antiquated them by applying scarring and dark coloring, making them look as though they'd been through battles for eons.
Several ideas were worked through for the Green Lantern power ring, which also incorporated the prism motif. Each one was tried on Ryan Reynolds' hand, to ensure that the size and shape and fit were just so. The actor's opinion was important as they wanted him, like Hal, to feel powerful wearing it, as though he could wield the ring as a weapon.
After a period of trial and error, costume designer Ngila Dickson hit on what became the final look, a perfect balance of power and masculinity. The ring was made from brass, with nickel plating, while the green stone, which carries the Green Lantern symbol, was made from dyed resin, with the intent that it, like the lantern, appear to be a relic from Oa.
Campbell states that "because the ring is one of the most powerful weapons in our 'world,' and such an important part of who Green Lantern is, it was definitely worth the extra effort to get it right."
In addition to her contribution to the ring design, it was, ironically, Ngila Dickson who suggested that the movie's most vital costume--the Green Lantern suit--be fashioned in the computer instead of on a sewing machine. Therefore, the suit would be created by the visual effects team in post production.
Though she wouldn't physically manufacture the ensemble, Dickson did provide the blueprint--with a little help. She explains, "The first thing I did was run to the local comic book store to do the research."
Knowing she would need to maintain the basics of the uniform--the symbol, the green and black colors--she nevertheless had some ideas about doing things differently. "I wanted to reinvent that wheel a little. So I thought of the suit being organic in nature."
Dickson was inspired by old anatomy drawings she had found by 16th-century illustrator and anatomist Vesalius. "That was a gift," she says, "and from there I found my way forward."
"Ngila came up with the idea of going back to the physiology of the body," Campbell offers. "It's in the character's DNA; it's essentially a second skin that follows his own musculature, not something he slips on from the outside."
Having never executed her craft in the computer world before, Dickson took the leap, initially creating a 3D digital model from which to work. "From that, I completely understood the costume and was confident that we could make it happen," she says.
"I am so glad that Ngila didn't choose to go the traditional route, because her ideas were exactly what this character and this film needed," Berlanti affirms. "And they came at just the right moment--as technology finally caught up with design--and we could render this kind of costume successfully."
Thus Ryan Reynolds, Mark Strong and Temuera Morrison would have to spend much of their days during production in motion capture suits or, as Reynolds affectionately put it, "a gun metal gray outfit that made me look like a crash test dummy. 'Skin-tight bodysuit' and 'kicking ass' are words that don't normally go together, but once you see how it finally looks with all the muscle fibers, almost like a human body without the skin on, I had to admit it was pretty ingenious."
"There was a lot of teasing about the lovely onesies with dots and crosses all over them," Dickson recalls, "but they were good sports."
Reynolds also wore a number of markers on his face to track his facial expressions and dimensions for the mask that would be digitally applied later on.
From the costumes to the energy constructs created by the Corps, the primary color of the entire production was, naturally, green, presenting a challenge to director of photography Dion Beebe and his team. Beebe relates, "Green is a tough color, and not one that sits well on the human face. Therefore, in our tests, we concluded that the green energy in the story needed to be more of an aura…something in the atmosphere that instead plays across the face."
Strong and Morrison had a great deal more than a bodysuit and dots to contend with: several hours in the makeup chair each day, as they were transformed into the aliens Sinestro and Abin Sur.
Despite the time it took to get him into character, Strong says, "Part of what I loved about playing Sinestro was his incredibly strong look. And whether it's accents, wigs, costumes, whatever, I love the opportunity to disappear into a part."
Prosthetic makeup department head Joel Harlow and his team began the process by working on maquettes, which allowed them to test various textures and skin colors. "We ended up using a tattoo color called French Quarter Fuchsia, which I thought was appropriate considering we shot the movie in New Orleans."
"The work Joel and his group did was crucial to the depiction of these characters, who looked almost like they stepped right out of the comic books. Every single detail was realized to the nth degree," Campbell says.
Peter Sarsgaard's character, Hector Hammond, makes his own physical transformation on-screen over the course of the film, including an ever-more grotesquely misshapen cranium that pulses as evil overtakes him. Three different prosthetic makeups were applied to the actor, representing the different stages of his "infection" by Parallax.
Despite the extreme heat and humidity of the New Orleans summer, Sarsgaard was often required to wear the prosthetics, weighing at times up to 12 pounds, for up to 13 hours at a time. The production made sure to help alleviate his discomfort by bringing in a body worker to apply cold compresses to his arms and legs to keep his body temperature down. Also, the on-set medic utilized a machine, frequently employed by NASA and the NFL, designed to cool the body's core temperature via the hands.
"Obviously, I couldn't stick my head in a bucket of water," Sarsgaard quips, "so this was much more efficient and it helped tremendously."