CLARKSTON, Mich. (AP) - The fantasy film “Green Lantern” is a dream come true for Geoff Johns, the Michigan-raised chief creative officer of DC Entertainment and co-producer of the movie.
“I am really, really happy with the movie,” said the 38-year-old, whose latest effort hit theaters Friday and whose suburban Detroit childhood was absorbed in fascination with reading and drawing comics.
Clarkston High School physics teacher Ned Burdick recalled his student busily drawing away.
“He’d be sitting in class and he’d sketch stuff,” Burdick told the Detroit Free Press. “Kids were always interested in it and knew if he chose to do something in this, he’d be successful.”
After graduation, Johns immersed himself in movies at Michigan State University, studying film and media arts. From East Lansing, he headed for Los Angeles, where he made a cold call to the office of “Superman” director Richard Donner and was accidentally connected to Donner himself.
“No one wanted to talk to this kid,” Johns said. “They transferred me to a bunch of people and he picked up. I got an internship that way. Pure luck.”
As Donner’s assistant, he worked on the 1997 film “Conspiracy Theory” that starred Mel Gibson and Julia Roberts. During filming in New York, Johns gave some DC personnel a tour of the movie set to thank them for sending him a book on conspiracies from a DC imprint.
“They said, ‘Why don’t you pitch something to us? You sound like you love comics and you have a background in film,’” Johns said. “I was working 90 hours a week back then on the movie. It took me about a year until I had time to write.”
He wrote “Stars and S.T.R.I.P.E.,” a 1999 comic book with a character inspired by his sister, who died in the TWA 800 crash. He also co-wrote “JSA” with David S. Goyer, an Ann Arbor native and Hollywood veteran who is writing “Man of Steel,” the next Superman movie.
“It’s really kind of serendipitous that we get to continue to work together like this,” Johns said. “People from Michigan know what I’m talking about. They’re just good, solid people.”
Johns is credited for his work to reinvigorate the Green Lantern character, which was overshadowed at DC by Batman and Superman. He brought back Hal Jordan as Green Lantern in the mid-2000s and updated the character’s origin story.
“Green Lantern captured my imagination as a kid,” Johns said. “To get Green Lantern out there and introduce so many people to it, along with a whole new generation of kids, that’s the thing I’m probably most excited about.”