Fans of Luc Besson, prepare to be delighted. The first images have emerged from his new film Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets, and they clearly have Besson’s signature style. Additionally, the costumed characters played by Dane DeHaan and Cara Delevingne also take inspiration from the long-running comic series “Valérian and Laureline”, of which Besson has long been enamored. Created by writer Pierre Christin and artist Jean-Claude Mézières, “Valerian and Laureline” tells the adventures of a dark-haired spatio-temporal agent and his red-headed colleague as they travel through space and time across the universe.
“Valerian and Laureline” doesn’t just sound like it’s right up Besson’s cinematic alley, it’s responsible for inspiring his entire body of work. The director’s been a fan of the comic series since he was just a boy; it’s long been his desire to bring the characters and their stories to life. On July 21, 2017, audiences will get to see Besson’s vision with DeHaan and Delevingne starring as the title characters alongside Clive Owen, Rihanna, Ethan Hawke, John Goodman, Herbie Hancock and Kris Wu.
EW has the first-look images from Valerian, along with an interview with Besson that digs into the movie itself. First up is Besson on casting his young leads:
Since day one, they clicked. They connected. Dane is already a genius before he met me. But Cara right now is like a bird who’s taking off. She’s really going to be such a huge star.
Though Besson has been a fan of the comic since its inception in 1967, it’s taken him a very long time to make the movie version:
I can say this. Jean-Claude Mézieres, who was the father of Valerian, he worked on Fifth Element for a year, and he was telling me all the time, “Why you don’t make the film?” And I always answered, “We cannot.” There are 10 or 12 human characters, and the others are all aliens. So the technique is not there. We had to wait for Avatar.
And so what happened when you saw Avatar?
I saw Avatar and threw my script for Valerian in the garbage. [Laughs.] I was inspired by James Cameron. He invited me on the set of Avatar. And I asked him questions and he was very open and very sweet. He was sharing with other directors. He helped other people like me to progress.
Besson talks about this image of DeHaan and Delevingne, which conjures up similar imagery from The Fifth Element:
It’s a part of the first mission. Beginning of the film. Like when you see James Bond, there’s always that one mission first. It’s the James Bond-style pre-story mission. They are in the middle of this big mission, and they’re disguised, so that’s why they’re dressed that way. They try to escape. It,s pretty funny how they have to escape.
The director also explains this particular character:
His name is K-Tron. He’s a police officer. You can’t even deal with him. You don’t argue with him. He’s not really important in the film, but he’s just like the the military police. Believe me, I have hundreds of these characters like him.
However, Besson is keeping quiet about the rest of the cast and the roles they play in the film:
I can’t tell you that. The big difference between this and the Marvel pattern is that with Marvel you know after five minutes who’s the villain. They do films that are super well made, but this pattern bothered me a little bit. What’s new here is we have two agents, and over the course of one film, it’s a police investigation, in fact. So you don’t know who’s exactly bad until the end, because it’s an investigation. That’s why I can’t talk too much. But it’s a real story. That’s what I love about it.
Be sure to head over to EW for much more from Besson on Valerian. Here’s the official synopsis from Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets:
Rooted in the classic graphic novel series, Valerian and Laureline– visionary writer/director Luc Besson advances this iconic source material into a contemporary, unique and epic science fiction saga.
Valerian (Dane DeHaan) and Laureline (Cara Delevingne) are special operatives for the government of the human territories charged with maintaining order throughout the universe. Valerian has more in mind than a professional relationship with his partner- blatantly chasing after her with propositions of romance. But his extensive history with women, and her traditional values, drive Laureline to continuously rebuff him.
Under directive from their Commander (Clive Owen), Valerian and Laureline embark on a mission to the breathtaking intergalactic city of Alpha, an ever-expanding metropolis comprised of thousands of different species from all four corners of the universe. Alpha’s seventeen million inhabitants have converged over time- uniting their talents, technology and resources for the betterment of all. Unfortunately, not everyone on Alpha shares in these same objectives; in fact, unseen forces are at work, placing our race in great danger.