Why Has a Green Lantern TV Series Taken So Long?

A Green Lantern series is soon coming to HBO Max, the premium cable giant's new streaming service. The project was officially announced last week and it is set to bring the popular DC character to the small screen.

While few details have emerged about what HBO will do with the character, it certainly feels like it is about time the Green Lantern finally gets his showcase.

The original Green Lantern, Alan Scott, debuted in 1940 in All-American Comics #16. Throughout the years, different characters with many different personalities and backgrounds have taken the mantle. On the page, the most famous Lantern is Hal Jordan, but Lantern John Stewart represented the character in the Justice League animated series. In the comics, Lanterns have teamed up with the Justice League, faced off against death, and patrolled the galaxy. The Green Lantern Corps have remained massive players over the last 80 years in DC comic books, animated series, and even the (poorly received) movie. Yet, in live-action on TV, the character has not had his much-deserved recognition.

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Superhero shows have been around for a long time and have gone from a niche audience to their incredibly popular status today. But, even in a time where multiple networks are looking to spend major money on comic book properties like Supergirl and Daredevil, the Green Lantern Corps has not gotten a chance to shine.

Think about it—there have been multiple live-action TV versions of pretty much every original Justice League member: Batman (Gotham, Titans), The Flash (Flash, Smallville), Atom (Legends of Tomorrow), Aquaman (Smallville), Wonder Woman (Wonder Woman), and even Martian Manhunter (Supergirl). All of those characters have had major screen time either through their own series or another superhero show. The Green Lantern Corps? In the Arrowverse, audiences have received a few hints that the Lanterns are out there, but there has been no major Green Lantern character on TV for more than just a quick moment. For one of the most iconic, important characters in DC history, it's sort of unbelievable.

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There have to be a few reasons why Green Lanterns haven't shown up on television. First and foremost, the character would be extremely hard to pull off under the constraints of a restrictive, network TV budget.

A show like The Flash can keep the digital-heavy special effects to a minimum, but the Green Lantern can fly, create practically any object when they see fit and spend much of their long time in space. All of those factors create cost-prohibitive obstacles to bringing Green Lantern to the small screen. It would consistently deliver convincing effects and would eat large chunks of a budget unequipped to handle their powers. Fortunately, HBO Max appears committed to throwing money at the series with executive producer Greg Berlanti saying in a press release that Green Lantern would be "the biggest DC show ever made," which is great news for DC fans wanting to see the character done properly.

Another potential reason Green Lanterns might have stayed off the small screen is there aren't as many popular long-form stories featuring the characters. Though they could have shown up during one of the Arrowverse's crises, it would be odd considering how much they already jammed into a three-to-four episode event. Maybe, if CW's Superman & Lois series is successful, the Arrowverse may consider a larger-scale crossover event and set up an eventual Justice League. With HBO setting itssights with the Lanterns, it may not be likely, but stranger things have happened.

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Lastly, and perhaps most sadly, the Green Lantern universe might have been put on the back burner thanks to the response to 2011's box office bomb Green Lantern. Even Hal Jordan himself (Ryan Reynolds) used his current role as the anti-hero Deadpool to mock playing the character. The movie undoubtedly left a sour taste in the mouths of fans. But perhaps HBO Max can do a lot of good by putting the character back in good standing.

The timing is finally right for the Green Lanterns to get their own showcase on HBO Max. The superhero genre has never been more competitive. With Marvel throwing hundreds of millions of dollars into a variety of Disney+ series to expand their universe, HBO Max and DC Entertainment made the correct move and are trying to do the same.

The various Green Lanterns have tons of rich stories to pull from and characters to use. The Corps could potentially feature the likes of Alan Scott, Hal Jordan, John Stewart, Kyle Rayner, Guy Gardner, Simon Baz, Jessica Cruz, Kilowog, Sinestro (pre- or post-heel turn) and Jade -- just to name a few. The show could potentially feature ALL of those characters.

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Some of the Green Lantern stories from the last 10 years or so would make a solid basis for HBO Max's series. Blackest Night by Geoff Johns and Ivan Reis, like Johns' run on Shazam! and Aquaman, would be a great start to the character's modern interpretation. In the story, the Lanterns face off against Nekron and stop him from destroying all life and emotion in the galaxy. Or, if DC wants to go with even more recent Lantern stories, Grant Morrison and Liam Sharp's current epic ongoing Green Lantern series focuses on Jordan as a cosmic cop seeking justice across the universe. There are so many different ways to go with a series thanks to the recent source material.

Ultimately, it appears a Green Lantern series has not come sooner because network executives assumed the TV landscape wasn't ready for a full-fledged space drama. With the success of shows like Titans, Doom Patrol, and the upcoming Disney+ Marvel series, nothing is stopping the Green Lantern from being done justice on the small screen. A proper Green Lantern adaptation requires a massive budget to create convincing special effects and costumes. Luckily, HBO Max might just be the best home for a show that needs to look insane, epic aesthetic.

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