Mark Strong is making a big splash in the geek pool, snagging roles in both the upcoming John Carter of Mars movie and Matthew Vaughn’s twisted adaptation of the comic book Kick-Ass (be sure to check out our Kick-Ass review!). When it was announced that Strong will be playing the role of Sinestro in Green Lantern, my fanboy barometer measured geek reaction as surprised, but pleasantly so.
But how familiar is Mark Strong with Sinestro’s pivotal role in the Green Lantern mythology? Is Strong the type of actor who comprehends and respects comic book source material? Or is he the type to try and “put his own stamp” on the character? Well, thanks to USA Weekend, we’re starting to get answers to a few of those questions.
Strong will join the Louisiana shoot of Green Lantern this summer when he is done with John Carter of Mars. In the meantime, the actor has clearly done his research on Sinestro, and in my opinion, fully respects the character’s complexity. Just check out what Strong had to say about Sinestro:
[WARNING! These could be considered SPOILERS if you don't know Green Lantern mythology]:
“For anybody who’s familiar with the Green Lantern and 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 certainly unsure of the wisdom of Hal becoming a Green Lantern…”
“He is a military guy but isn’t immediately bad. It’s the kind of person he is that lends himself to becoming bad over the course of the comics being written, but initially he’s quite a heroic figure.”
If you don’t know much about Sinestro, what Mark Strong just described is pretty much spot-on in terms of both the basic synopsis of the character’s history, as well as the thematic nuances of the character’s transition from Green Lantern Corps MVP into Hal Jordan’s greatest nemesis – a transformation that will likely be the focus of an all-but-certain Green Lantern sequel.
The best Sinestro analogy I can make is Denzel Washington’s character in Training Day (bear with me here). At the start of Hal Jordan’s journey as Green Lantern, Sinestro is the top cop of The Green Lantern Corps and Jordan is basically his ‘Ethan Hawke’ (that’s another Training Day reference, in case you were wondering). It’s only later that Hal Jordan (and we the audience) discover Sinestro’s true nature as a ruthless fascist bent on enforcing “universal order,” a goal which the Guardians of the Universe (the Green Lanterns’ bosses) can’t seem to reach.
And even when we come to know “the real Sinestro,” the character (at least when handled correctly, in my opinion) is never as clearly “bad” as other comic book villain stereotypes. Sure he’s ruthless and cunning – but despite his evil ways, Sinestro still is holds title as “the greatest Green Lantern” – a title which recent Green Lantern story arcs have firmly reminded us of .
Sinestro, in a word, is a very “Shakespearean” character – so who better to understand and portray him than a classically-trained stage actor like Mark Strong? I mean, originally I was pulling hard for Hugo Weaving to play Sinestro, but hearing Mark Strong discuss the character, I’m suddenly feeling better and better about how the casting ultimately turned out. How about you?
For more of Strong talking about his role as Sinestro (including which classic movie actors he sees as an inspiration for the character) you should check out USA Weekend. Then let us know what you think, back here in our comments section.
Green Lantern will beam into theaters on June 17, 2011.