Mark Strong On ‘Green Lantern’ & His Villainous Redemption In ‘Shazam!’

Mark Strong played one of the most notable DC Comic villains in history in Green Lantern and now he looks to redeem himself as a villain in the Shazam! movie. 

Green Lantern was critical and financial flop for Warner Bros. and DC. They were going to start a film universe with Green Lantern and as it failed, all hope of that universe went with it. One of the strong points of Green Lantern was Mark Strong, who played Sinestro, the iconic Green Lantern Corps member who succumbs to dark side of the Lantern spectrum.

Back in April, Heroic Hollywood got the chance to visit the set of Shazam! and some of the things we learned were quite incredible. During the filming of a pivotal scene in the film,

Q: With you being in this film, I’m curious if that means that Green Lantern is no longer part of the DCEU?

A: It is part of the DCEU. But, you know, my version of Sinestro I think is going to be rebooted, as they say, no doubt when the new Green Lantern comes out, which I think they’re doing. But as I said and I mean it, I felt really… it was a little interrupted because Sinestro was gonna go into the second movie and become the yellow Sinestro that we know and love and cause havoc. It got cut short by the fact that they never made a second movie of that particular incarnation of Green Lantern and Sinestro. But, thankfully, I’ve now got a chance to maybe exercise my evil credentials with Doctor Sivana.

A: Besides that sort of DC redemption, what was it that you liked about Sivana that made you want to do it?

Q: I think because he is a proper, in the New 52 incarnation that Geoff’s [Johns] done, he is a proper supervillain.  He gets to fly, he can create electric fields in his hands and fire electricity. I love the whole notion that in his eye he has seven sins that manifest themselves at various points whenever they or he wants them to. So, it’s a good, proper supervillain.

Q: Do you feel that rather than Sinestro, who’s like an iconic character, unlike Sivana and Billy, do you feel like you kind of get to make Sivana your own?

A: Yeah, I do. I feel like because we’ve gone through a whole process of many superheroes now, we’re looking for the slightly more obscure ones or we’re discovering the slightly more obscure ones. I was really surprised to find out that in 1940 when the original comic came out Sivana was in the second edition. So, he is a proper old school villain and as nobody has done it before, I’m really excited at the idea that I get to invent my version of him.

Q: Was it surprising to you to see that old original version of Sivana and then come to set and see your costume is not the dentist outfit that he’s so famous for having?

A: Well as you all know this is the New 52 version in which he’s much more robust and much more powerful. Obviously, originally, he was a scientist and I think the story was he was thwarted and the world didn’t understand him… in fact, he originally he went to Venus and then came back. I don’t think my Sivana goes there necessarily. Nevertheless, he’s able to sort of channel that thing that all great supe villains do, which is a need to have complete power and basically rule everything. That seems to me to be a standard of good ol’ fashioned evil characters.

Q: This is a character who we’ve seen your wardrobe and we’ve heard a little bit about and he’s very wealthy and very powerful even without his super powers, Do you feel like this is a character that feels that he is entitled to his power?

A: What I love about this movie and the way they’ve written it is there is a reason he is how he is. Often villains can be painted in broad strokes. They are evil, and that’s it. But, we get to see him young, we get to see a scene in which he’s bullied not only by his older brother, but by his family and is misunderstood as a young boy. So, when he has the opportunity to choose good or bad in this area called the Rock of Eternity ruled by the Wizard, he is told by the Wizard that he is not worthy very early on as a young boy. So the choice is kind of almost made for him. Then he spends the rest of his life trying to get back to that place in order to justify or explain to the villain that he was prejudged. But because it’s taken him a lifetime of really marinating that sense of injustice, when he does get back there he decides to choose the dark side rather than the good side, and that I think is really beautifully explained in the movie because what the movie has at its core is this idea of family and who is your real family. You know Billy is looking for his real family. Is his family this new bunch of kids that he becomes part of? Is it his mother he’s become estranged from? And I think the same is true of  Sivana. He’s looking for where he belongs and I think he feels that because of the disappointments he had as a child. He belongs and feels more comfortable with the sins and their power than he does with the Wizard and his so called sense of good.

[Strong has to quiet down as a scene films. The scene features Asher Angel’s Billy Batson and Grace Fulton’s Mary. Mary is trying to convince Billy not to leave the group home.]

Strong: That’s Grace, isn’t it? She’s a great Mary. She’s perfect. and has to become a kind of mother to the kids because they’re all younger than she is. I mean she’s 21 and they’re all younger. So, she’s actually kind of embodied  in real life who she is in the story, having to take care of them.

Q: How does he feel on his arch nemesis being a 14-year-old boy?

A: He can’t understand. He can’t understand that the Wizard has chosen this boy as his champion. Because there was the opportunity there that he could be the champion of good but was rejected because he was considered not to be worthy. Yet, the wizard’s chosen a boy and he realizes that obviously that boy manifests himself into the man.. the Zachary version of Shazam, and to him it’s a source of total incomprehension why this boy should have been chosen over him. But, it just justifies him in his quest to unify the good force and the evil force and be in control of all of it.

Q: Shazam doesn’t have a big roster of villains, so what makes your character a good foil for Shazam?

A: I think you can’t really question the original comic books. If they felt that he was a worthy nemesis and that there was enough to do with him to enable him to create constant complications for Shazam, maybe that’s why there aren’t other villains in that universe or there aren’t many anyway because he’s really quite a good foil, and they do always say that a hero is only as good as his villain so I’m hoping to make Sivana really iconic.

Q: In the process of playing him have you had a moment where you have to pull yourself back a little bit, like we just talked about he’s going up against a child, Is there a line? When you talk about Sinsetro, Sinestro is always in the same purview of his rivals. That’s not true for Sivana at all. Has there been a moment when you have to step back and be like this is way too dark?

A: No. I don’t think it could ever be too dark. I think especially the more lighthearted the rest of the film is, and this one is. I mean there’s some great comedy to be had with that idea that a 14-year-old boy in a grown up man’s body doesn’t really understand or is able to cope with his powers. I had this discussion with [director] David [F. Sandberg] and Peter [Safran] the producer very early on and said I think Sivana should be like heat seeking ballistic evil. The more frightening you make him, the more you feel that the kids are in jeopardy, and therefore the more that morality term of balance of good and evil plays out satisfacually. I think if he ever steps back and takes his foot off the gas of being dark.. it doesn’t serve the purpose of the story, which is he needs to be a terrifying nemesis.

Q: Talk a little bit about that action scene in the toy store with Zach and basically kicking the shit out of him.

A: It was very early on in shooting for me and I love the fact that we were literally crashing through mirrors, crashing through walls into toy stores… he was throwing toys at me and flying out of windows. I mean the physicality… I love, because there’s the possibility obviously because the powers they posses they could end up standing at either end of the room and just fire electricity at each other. I’m not saying that they don’t do that, but it’s wonderful that we get close up and dirty as well and there is some proper hand-to-hand combat as well. So, those scenes I love very much.

Q: What are your thoughts and feelings now about the comic book genre in general? It’s blown up. It’s the most popular genre. Right now as an actor and as a fan that watches films, what are your feelings about the genre itself as it’s taken off? Does that feel like a good thing to you or does it feel like… well, I have to get into those comic book films cause that’s what’s most popular or is it something that you’re really like amped up to do

A: When I started acting these big comic book movies didn’t really exist. They were extremely rare if they did. So now that they’ve become the staple fare of cinema, and I think what happened is… because the technology has advanced so far, and I’m sure you’ve all heard this before, and because television is now having its golden age, so a lot of the writers of drama have moved from film to TV, which leaves the kind of cinema to take care of these big spectacles and it just so happens comic book movies are spectacles, especially with the advent of the technology that is available nowadays. So it’s a good thing because I think everything is informing everything else. You know as a Thor comes out that now has a sense of humor… or should I say Guardians of the Galaxy comes out that has a sense of humor that now infuses Thor which gives that a bit sense of humor. Now we’ve moved into the world of Black Panther and now we’ve got a female superhero in Wonder Woman. It’s as if everything is pushing the genre onwards, and that I think can only be a good thing. But, to answer as an actor, it’s really exciting. I mean the truth is if you shoot a film that is more of a drama it tends to be more dialogue scenes and less CGI heavy. You do a film like this… it’s incremental moments that then get put together in the edit, so the kind of work you’re doing in either of those worlds is very different but the payoff  for movies like this is that I can’t wait for the day I sit down and I watch it on the big screen.

Q: Besides just the age factor, can you talk a little about Doctor Sivana going up against Shazam in terms of the personality clash because Sivana has a very different idea of power versus Billy Batson when he becomes Shazam. Like for him it’s pure joy and an opportunity to be good. For Sivana it’s more of a right. He feels a little bit of entitlement and almost a burden that he feels he has to be the one to wield the power.

A: It’s interesting how they view what’s happening to them now that they’ve got the power. For example the Shazam suit is really an incarnation of a superhero suit as seen by a 13/14-year-old boy. That’s the idea. It’s a little bit garish, it’s a little bit bright but that’s how he imagines it. So consequently, again I had to think is that what he thinks is evil incarnate? So he’s chosen something long, sort of Nazi-like long leather coat with a fur collar and a pair of sort of dark sunglasses because I suppose as he gets that evil power, this is how he chooses to manifest himself in the way that he looks. So you’ve got a young boy with the enthusiasm for all the power that he’s given and you’ve got a cynical old guy with the opposite of that who’s chosen to take a darker path and really use that power for his own personal gain rather than to help other people.

What do you think of Mark Strong’s comments? Did you like Green Lantern and are you excited for the Shazam! movie? Sound off in the comments section.

We all have a superhero inside us, it just takes a bit of magic to bring it out. In Billy Batson’s (Angel) case, by shouting out one word—SHAZAM!—this streetwise 14-year-old foster kid can turn into the adult Super Hero Shazam (Levi), courtesy of an ancient wizard. Still a kid at heart—inside a ripped, godlike body—Shazam revels in this adult version of himself by doing what any teen would do with superpowers: have fun with them! Can he fly? Does he have X-ray vision? Can he shoot lightning out of his hands? Can he skip his social studies test? Shazam sets out to test the limits of his abilities with the joyful recklessness of a child. But he’ll need to master these powers quickly in order to fight the deadly forces of evil controlled by Dr. Thaddeus Sivana (Strong).

Directed by David F. Sandberg, Shazam! stars Zachary Levi, Asher Angel, Mark Strong, Jack Dylan Grazer, Grace Fulton, Faithe Herman, Ian Chen, Jovan Armand, Cooper Andrews, Marta Milans, and Ron Cephas.

Shazam! will be released in theaters on April 5, 2019.

The Superhero Movies Of 2018, Ranked From Worst To Best

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Superhero Cinema 2018 Black Panther Avengers Thanos The Incredibles Aquaman2018 has gone by too fast. It seems like yesterday when the beginning of the new year was upon us, and the advent of having so many superhero movies hitting theaters seemed like a dream come true for every fanboy and fangirl. It's also funny to look back and remember that although we ended up with a whopping nine major theatrical superhero movies, we almost had eleven. Sadly, Fox delayed both Dark Phoenix and The New Mutants to 2019 instead.

Even with those two films delayed, 2018 was still a massive year not just at the box office, but for the continued advancement of the genre on a number of levels. Whether it was through the cultural significance of a film like Black Panther or the exciting animated adventures of Incredibles 2 and Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, there was no shortage of exciting superhero stories told on the big screen this year.

Here are the theatrical superhero films of 2018, ranked from worst to best. You can start the gallery by clicking "Next."

9. Venom Venom Tom Hardy Eddie Brock Marvel Sony

Yeah, Venom is an interesting film to say the least. Many have doubted Sony and their plans to create their own universe centered on Spider-Man villains that is said to be "adjacent" to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, especially after what happened with their proposed plans for a shared universe set within the canon of Marc Webb's The Amazing Spider-Man films.

What director Ruben Fleischer brought to audiences is this bizarre, clunky, yet surprisingly entertaining throwback to the early 2000s era of superhero cinema. It has major narrative and technical flaws that keep it from being legitimately a "good" film beyond some moments of ironic brilliance, but Tom Hardy's performance is one of the most entertaining comic book movie performances put on screen in a long time.

8. Ant-Man and the WaspAnt-Man and the Wasp Avengers 4 Marvel

It's pretty hard to follow in the footsteps of such a massive crossover event like Avengers: Infinity War, but the microscopic (yes, pun intended) scale of Ant-Man and the Wasp is a nice lighthearted cleanser after witnessing Thanos' decimation. It falls short of its 2015 predecessor, but director Peyton Reed still brings in some entertaining sequences that are a nice blend of action and comedy.

Both Paul Rudd and Evangeline Lilly have great chemistry, and the entire climactic chase sequence is pure delight.

7. Deadpool 2Deadpool 2 X-Force Fox

2016's Deadpool was the surprise hit of that year. While many hardcore comic book fans were excited to finally see a proper iteration of the Merc with a Mouth, the industry was particularly surprised by how mainstream audiences embraced Ryan Reynolds as the beloved antihero of the Marvel Universe.

Deadpool 2 continues that trend of self-aware comedy mixed in with the badass action directed by David Leitch. Unfortunately, the film falls into some of the trappings of a "more of the same" type of sequel, but put on a bigger scale. The film certainly could've benefited from a more clever script beyond just making everything bigger than the first. While the film never recaptures that lightning-in-a-bottle that the first film had, it still holds its own with some great character moments and perhaps the best mid-credits scene of all-time.

Plus, the additions of Cable (Josh Brolin) and Domino (Zazie Beetz) add more to the irresistible tone that Deadpool brings to the big screen. Overall, a decent sequel.

6. Teen Titans GO! To the Movies

Teen Titans GO! To The Movies

It's kind of funny that Teen Titans GO! To The Movies is as entertaining as it is. Sure, the film is still targeted towards younger children that tune into the series on Cartoon Network, but the film is a surprisingly clever send-up of both the superhero movie genre as well as a hilarious tribute to the lore of DC Comics seen through the eyes of the Teen Titans themselves.

Also, the fact that the film ends with a stinger that teases the possible return of the original Teen Titans series justifies its existence in more ways than one.

5. Aquaman Aquaman

Aquaman is a much-needed win for the DC Extended Universe. The franchise received its biggest win in 2017 with Wonder Woman but unfortunately hit a massive roadblock with the disappointing Justice League. As it turns out, all the DCEU needed to do to get back in the right direction was to add water and filmmaker James Wan into the mix.

Wan really goes all out with this film. This is a visually stunning adventure film on both land and sea that really leans into the inherently cheesy nature of the character while simultaneously turning Aquaman into perhaps the most badass superhero in the DCEU thus far.

Some may be turned off by how campy Aquaman can get at points, but it's hard not to get swept up into the fun when you have Jason Momoa having the time of his life.

4. Incredibles 2incredibles-2-pixar-disney

It has been 14 years since we were last acquainted with the Incredibles. Thankfully, they haven't missed a beat even after that long, long wait for the most-requested Pixar sequel of all-time.

It's great to see Brad Bird bounce back with this exciting sequel after the earnest, yet disappointing mess that was Tomorrowland. Here, Bird is back on his element as a brilliant storyteller and is adept at further developing these characters.

Seeing the entire family in these hilarious and death-defying circumstances is so enthralling, particularly in the film's climax. Also, everything involving Jack-Jack and Edna Mode are some of the funniest sequences of animation that Pixar has ever done.

3. Avengers: Infinity WarAvengers Infinity War Thanos Marvel Studios

What else is there that needs to be said about this 2018 film? It really is the most ambitious crossover event in cinematic history, and it has sparked an entire year-long conversation about what our surviving heroes will be doing next after all the chaos.

Anthony and Joe Russo accomplished the near-impossible task of balancing out dozens of larger-than-life characters in this kaleidoscope of comic book beauty that leads to some of the most epic battles ever brought to the big screen.

Also, with Avengers: Endgame on the horizon, it's going to be interesting if that film has a moment that tops the pure awesomeness that is the scene in which Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Groot (Vin Diesel) and Rocket (Bradley Cooper) arrive on the battlefield in Wakanda.

2. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-VerseSpider-Man Into the Spider-Verse

Who would've thought that an animated Spider-Man movie that features Spider-Noir and Spider-Ham on the big screen would be the best film centered on the webhead since Sam Raimi's Spider-Man 2?

Leave it to the minds of Phil Lord and Chris Miller along with the incredible creative team to bring us a true love letter to the character that would make Stan Lee and Steve Ditko proud. Yes, Peter Parker will always be our original Spidey, but this film proves that the best part about being Spider-Man is the fact that he/she can come from anywhere despite their personal background and circumstances.

1. Black PantherBlack Panther Marvel Disney Ryan Coogler

As big as Avengers: Infinity War was, it's harder to find a 2018 movie that has had as big of an impact on the popular culture than Black Panther. But beyond the cultural significance that comes with such a film, Ryan Coogler crafted a powerful, touching story about legacy, family, principles, power and purpose.

It's hard to log onto the internet sometimes because the world is in such a chaotic place. But Black Panther represents the power of storytelling and why seeing more diverse characters and stories on the big screen matters.

Films like Black Panther remind us about the power of cinema. It can unite audiences together despite their differences and can also inspire us to be better people. All those reasons and more are why Black Panther is the best superhero film of 2018.

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Nathaniel Brail

Nathaniel Brail

Running things at HH. Follow me on Twitter and Instagram @NateBrail