Last year, it was announced that a Green Lantern live-action series was coming to the new HBO Max streaming service. This series was announced as being brought to us by DC television guru Greg Berlanti, who is the man behind just about every DC series on the CW and the DC Universe streaming service.
Aside from the fact that this show was said to have a healthy budget, and be at least partially set in space, we knew nothing about it. In fact, we didn’t know if it would even feature a Green Lantern at all, as they said it would showcase the “Green Lantern mythology.” For all we knew, it could have been about Larfleeze, the Orange Lantern.
But at the TCA Winter Tour, HBO Max confirmed (via Deadline), that the series would “span several decades on focus on two stories about Green Lanterns on Earth” as well as one in space “going into the Sinestro story.”
Well, that actually tells us a LOT. That’s two Earth Lanterns, and a new iteration of Sinestro. Given his status as Green Lantern’s number one enemy, it makes sense to focus on him as well. An intriguing factoid in this piece of news is the idea that the show would span several decades. I think we could be seeing two separate Lanterns in two totally different eras, with their stories converging at the end. This would be ambitious, and a different way to approach a superhero series.
But which two Earth Lanterns will make the cut? There have been several over the course of the past eighty years. Here are our guesses as to which Lanterns could soon become TV stars.
Comics’ first Green Lantern debuted way back in 1940, and quickly became one of DC’s top characters. But he was very different from the Lanterns who would come later. His ring was magic, not alien science. And there was no Green Lantern Corps. But the basics were all there. He said a mysterious oath, charged his ring with a lantern power battery, and created green constructs with his ring. He largely disappeared after the ’40s, mostly showing up in second tier roles since then.
He’s not connected to the overall Green Lantern Corps mythos, and if you change that aspect of him, you might as well just use another Green Lantern. An updated modern version of Alan Scott appeared in recent years, now an out gay man. Maybe a combination of the two, a closeted gay man in a prejudiced WWII-era America could be interesting? So I wouldn’t totally rule him out.
The cocky Air Force test pilot is considered to be the Green Lantern by most fans. His appearance made the character relevant for a new generation of Atomic Age kids, who loved the sci-fi angle to his stories. It was the Hal Jordan version which introduced reader to the larger world of the Green Lantern Corps space cops, as well the Guardians of the Universe. All key elements of the mythology to this day.
He’s the most well known and well merchandised version of the character ever, having been around now for sixty years and counting. Also, his origins really tie in to the whole Air Force, The Right Stuff era of test pilots and astronauts. So if they wanted to create a period piece set in this time period, using the character of Hal in that era would be an ideal way to go.
John Stewart is DC Comics’ first prominent African-American hero. He became Hal Jordan’s back-up Lantern in the early ’70s. And then later, replaced him entirely. It should also be noted that John Stewart was the GL for the Justice League animated series, making him the prime Lantern for a whole generation of kids. Had the George Miller Justice League movie gone through, he would have been our first live-action Green Lantern,
If the series is going the period piece route, then it would be amazing to see John Stewart as Vietnam war era Marine, who is recruited into this space cop force. Also, having an African-American man become a champion of justice in the era when the Civil Rights movement was just beginning to bear fruit might be an interesting angle to explore if we are going with a show that spans decades. He also has a good “buddy cop” dynamic with Hal Jordan.
The second “back up” Lantern for Hal Jordan, this red-headed “tough guy” became popular as the brash and opinionated jerk of the Justice League back in the ’80s. He’s mostly famous for the running joke of constantly getting head injuries resulting in different personalities for him. But he usually reverted to loud mouth blue collar guy.
He’s good for comic relief, but his arrogant ways make him hard to be a central character on any series. But fans do love him, so he does have shot. I’d say he’s a prime candidate for a guest spot or a recurring character, but not as one of the series’ two leads.
’90s kids have soft spot for Kyle, as he was the GL of Earth for nearly a decade in the ’90s/early 2000s. Kyle was a slacker-type artist who is gifted the ring when Hal Jordan goes bad (he was actually possessed, but that’s a whole other story). As an illustrator, Kyle made all kinds of interesting and imaginative constructs with his ring. When Hal goes bad and destroys the Corps, Kyle is the only active GL for years.
Unfortunately, Kyle’s origins as a hero are too closely tied with Hal’s turn as a villain, so I would be surprised if they introduce Kyle as a co-lead on a series. He feels like a character who should come along in later seasons, should there be any. However, if the show covers the ’90s era, few things are more popular than ’90s nostalgia these days. So it is possible.
Simon Baz is significant because he was one of the few prominent Arab-American Muslim superheroes in comics. Created by writer Geoff Johns, Baz was victim of discrimination in a post 9/11 America, and was wrongly convicted of attempted domestic terrorism. When gifted with a Green Lantern ring, he at first doesn’t trust it, choosing to also carry a gun at all times. But Batman convinced him to drop the whole gun thing (Bruce doesn’t like those much.)
Simon Baz has since become a popular GL, and has even served with the Justice League for several years. Given that Johns is a producer on this series and is his creator, there is a chance we’ll see him. But given his ties to more recent American history, it would be surprising if only because this show “spans decades.” But having a non-white lead would be a plus to be sure.
Another recent GL, Jessica Cruz is important because she is Earth’s first female Lantern of note. She is also only the second Lantern of Latin descent, after Kyle Rayner, who is half-Mexican. She has in interesting backstory, as she gained the ring while being a recluse suffering from PTSD. She survived a murder attempt, and can barely overcome her fear of leaving her own apartment. And then finds herself having to overcome much greater fears by becoming a champion of Earth.
Much like Baz, her inclusion would signify a much needed attempt at diversity. In the comics, she and Simon are a team, so a show having her as a co-lead would be fascinating. But also like Baz, she’s perhaps too modern a hero to be in a show that spans several decades. I think she and Simon might be being saved for a future Green Lantern Corps ensemble movie.
Of course, the producers of this series could surprise us and create all-new Lanterns for the series. But given the popularity of the comics, it seems unlikely. Hopefully we’ll find out soon which of DC’s Emerald Gladiators is chosen to represent the brand on television.
Featured Image: DC Comics