Mark Wahlberg has been a Hollywood darling since his starring role in 1997's Boogie Nights. Since then, he's made a name for himself in such films as Three Kings, The Departed and The Fighter, cementing his place as a marquee talent, and a formidable producer. His career has taken some interesting turns over the past two decades, of course, with projects like Ted, The Happening and Daddy's Home, but a recent report that Wahlberg was once eyed to play Green Lantern in the so-called DC Extended Universe hints at an intriguing path not taken.
Although the role of class DC character Hal Jordan obviously didn't materialize in that cinematic universe during the era of Zack Snyder, Wahlberg's performance in Mile 22, in theaters now, suggests he may be the best Green Lantern we'll never see on the big screen.
In director Peter Berg's espionage thriller, Wahlberg's James Silva is the leader of an elite covert-ops team that's willing to do whatever it takes to protect the world from terrorists. His unit comes off very similar to what we've seen the Green Lantern Corps do over their decades in DC comics. Silva breaks the rules, goes behind enemy lines and takes out anyone who threatens global peace. They way he leads his squad feels very much like Hal Jordan, especially after Geoff Johns and Ethan Van Sciver reintroduced him to the DC Universe in Green Lantern: Rebirth.
Wahlberg showcases how good he is at taking troops into battle. The way his character talks back so passionately to his superiors is reminiscent of how Hal often opposed the Guardians of Oa, always ready to stand up for what he believes. Silva also isn't a mindless weapon, simply programmed to do whatever he's told by his CIA handlers, instead questioning orders as he escorts an informant through hostile territory to a plane waiting to whisk him away to the United States. What makes this comparison so fitting is that Hal and his fellow Green Lanterns are well known for transporting informants and prisoners across the galaxy. In other words, Wahlberg is basically pulling Green Lantern duty here, except the setting is Earth, the backdrop is the war on terror, and he doesn't have the benefit of a sci-fi power ring.
It's not only the action aspect of Wahlberg's career that draw this comparison to Hal, a former test pilot turned guardian of the galaxy. Sure, Mile 22 is violent and gritty, but Wahlberg's other roles have showcased his comedic timing and the ability to display an ego that rivals Hal Jordan's. Wahlberg perfectly nailed this blend of badass and comedy required to portray Hal -- or, heck, Guy Gardner -- in such projects as The Other Guys, Daddy's Home and Pain & Gain.
Given Wahlberg's star power, he wouldn't have been a bad pick to build a franchise around, and would have added extra oomph to an early DCEU roster that included Ben Affleck, Will Smith, Jared Leto and Henry Cavill. He'd have fit in among them as the space cop of Sector 2814. Wahlberg has geek cred, with such credits as Tim Burton's Planet of the Apes, Max Payne and Transformers movies (arguably his best mix of action and humor), so he's no stranger to this area of pop culture.
Ultimately, Silva's accomplishments as a soldier, and more so, as a leader in Mile 22, are driven by the fact he'll do anything to get the job done, even if it means blurring the lines -- Hal's most iconic trait in the line of duty. Tom Cruise may have been rumored for the role, but Wahlberg as a Green Lantern definitely has an appeal to it, based not just on Mile 22, but his entire body of work.
His rugged looks, muscular physique and quality as a leading man would have been the right ingredients for bringing Hal Jordan to life, but as of now, all we can do is wonder what could have been had he taken the Green Lantern oath.