Greg Berlanti is the co-writer/producer on The Green Lantern and The Flash, the latter of which he’s also a potential director. He recently directed his second film, Life as We Know It, and has been making the press rounds to promote it. Naturally, everyone is more interested to learn about his work on Green Lantern and Flash than Hollywood’s latest Katherine Heigl romantic comedy, so he’s being pressed for as much as info as he’s willing to divulge.
Some of what he had to say might surprise you.
The most sensible of Berlanti’s comparisons came from Hero Complex, as he equated the attitude and character mythos of The Green Lantern‘s Hal Jordan to Top Gun‘s Maverick and Star Wars‘ Luke Skywalker, respectively.
The character itself was “Top Gun” before Maverick. He was a guy who had to learn how to care. He shut down early in his life because of something that happened to him, and suddenly he doesn’t just have to care about himself, he doesn’t just have to care about the planet, he has to care about the entire universe. It was writ so large. The other side of it was that he was always the comic-book version of Luke Skywalker, imagining that you’re picked for this group of heroes that’s there to defend the entire universe. It always had this great kind of wondrous scope to it, and as a kid who ran around in his Superman Underoos, it was a chance to do a superhero movie that went off planet.
When talking about The Flash though (which is being written right now), the comparisons got a little wilder. An interview with Superhero Hype finds Berlanti discussing Flash alter ego Barry Allen’s job as a crime scene investigator:
Though Barry Allen was a little lighter in the comic, I think because of the nature that he was a CSI and moved in this world of crime before this stuff happened. I think it’s tonally somewhere in between ‘GL’ and ‘Dark Knight.’ It’s actually a little bit darker than when we were working on (‘GL’), because you’re dealing with somebody who is already a crimefighter in a world of those kinds of criminals and that kind of murder and homicide. I find you talk a lot about different films when you’re working on a film, and we spend a lot more time talking about ‘Se7en’ or ‘The Silence of the Lambs’ as we construct that part of Barry’s world, then I thought when we got into it. It helps balance a guy in a red suit who runs really fast.
I understand the need to bring a real-world quality to these films, but is the unrelenting bleakness of serial killer horror-thrillers truly necessary for The Flash?
The comparisons didn’t stop there, either. When asked if the Rogues’ Gallery and the time travel elements of the comics would make it into the film, Berlanti had this to say:
A third thing I’d throw at you is alternate dimensions, so it’s true that we want to find the things that make it… With ‘GL,’ we used to say there’s a space opera component and then there’s the down on earth. In ‘The Flash,’ there’s the sci-fi component and there’s the crime component and it’s fitting those two things together, and the sci-fi thing, we obviously want to nail that and honor that and do that in a way that feels visceral and real and cool and probably more in the tone of ‘The Matrix” films or things like that. I always think of ‘The Flash’ stories where he met Jay Garrick and knows there was Earth Prime and things like that. There’s an avenue for these films to broaden the DC Film Universe in that way, so that’s the hope.
The Dark Knight meets Se7en meets The Matrix?
Fingers crossed that Berlanti was just rattling off the first broadly-applicable movie titles that came to mind, and this isn’t an actual indication of what sort of film they’re striving for with The Flash. I was personally hoping for something a little snappier and more fun—something along the lines of, say, Iron Man.
Maybe if Greg Berlanti officially signs on to direct, he’ll take some time to nail down a more consistent tonality for the film. For now, he’s remaining focused on coming up with ideas for the screenplay:
When we have the script together, I’ll probably sit down with Warner Bros. and want to decide what’s best for that movie. It’s so hard when you’re working on the material, the script too, because if I thought about it just as a director I would freak myself out but when I think about it just as a writer, we try so many different things. It’s like, ‘I don’t even know how we’re going to do that but what if we did this or what if we showed this?’ It’s more freeing and liberating so I haven’t really thought beyond the script right now for it.