As the slate of DC Entertainment films seems to be undergoing a constant reshuffle in the wake of mixed response to Justice League, Suicide Squad and others, the fate of the cinematic universe after 2018’s Aquaman and 2019’s Wonder Woman 2 seems very much up in the air. It’s widely believed that Flashpoint will act as a reset button of sorts for the DCEU, allowing Ben Affleck’s Batman to bow out gracefully, as well as smoothing the way for other changes,.. but, of course, none of this is confirmed.
Warner Bros.’ willingness to take chances is also somewhat of an open question; multiple Joker and Harley films have been discussed, but their status remains somewhat uncertain. There’s reason to hope, though, as the Nightwing film announced around this time last year is expected to begin production shortly, signaling that producers are now starting to look at solo heroes outside of DC’s marquee characters. For this age of DC heroes on the big screen, though, there’s one that could resonate even more with moviegoers, a character comics fans have long rallied around but whom pop culture at large has, until now, mostly ignored.
That would, of course, be Guy Gardner. And the Green Lantern Corps movie planned for release in 2020 is the perfect place to introduce him to the world.
The Case Against Hal Jordan
So why Guy, and why not the more popular Lanterns like Hal Jordan and John Stewart? Each has much to recommend him, but in the end, the rebellious Guy Gardner is the best choice to ground the spacefaring cops in contemporary life.
Hal is the classic, perhaps best-known Green Lantern, and the natural choice to head up any film about the Corps as he did in 2011, portrayed by Ryan Reynolds. But the problem with Hal is that he’s a cypher. Before getting the ring, he’s a test pilot — already a pretty heroic vocation — and Abin Sur specifically chooses Hal because he is “entirely without fear.” That’s aspirational, and not necessarily a bad thing; we’re meant to look up to Hal, after all, to want to be him.
But that’s not really enough to sustain interest in him over the course of a two-plus hour movie, especially considering that for whatever reason writers for both comics and screen have largely struggled to introduce a down-to-earth humanity into Hal. His relationship with Carol Ferris has never had the spark of Clark and Lois, or Barry and Iris, or Wally and Linda, or, or, or… Plus, he spends just about zero time on Earth, setting him even further apart. Hal is an icon, and there’s a function for that role to play in any Green Lantern film.
But not as the star.
Look, DC is currently publishing a comic called Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps, and John Stewart is the star of the series. Bottom line: Hal is too flawed to anchor another movie.
The Case Against John Stewart
I would love to see a John Stewart Green Lantern movie. John is also eminently recognizable, thanks to his star turn in the Justice League cartoon. He also has a fairly rich backstory that could be mined for film, and as both an expert military mind and an architect, there’s a real possibility for a unique perspective on the superhero enterprise.
But there are a few potential problems with John as the star. First, John is the leader, which binds him into certain rules and modes of conduct. Sure, he reports to the Guardians (in a way), and there’s potential for conflict there, but often the best drama comes from those who are able to rebel a bit more. Like Guy. John has to be a big picture thinker; while he must be at the center of every Corps mission, this may not make him the best point of view character.
Further, if the emphasis is on John’s military prowess, as it has been in comics for the last 15-20 years or so, then the movie runs the risk of being an action flick like a million we’ve seen before. To be clear, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with heroes from a military background, and great stories can be and are told with them; but when there’s a legitimate opportunity to try something different, take it. The Green Lantern Corps is already a military of sorts, so following a hero from that background is less interesting than following one who is not.
If the screenwriters emphasize his architect side, however, I take it all back; the movie I really want is Green Lantern: Mosaic.
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