As the modern age of comic book blockbusters settles upon the entire globe, with Marvel exploring the corners of its Avengers Universe, Fox concocting one mutant threat after another, and DC assembling their Justice League piece by piece, there’s one superhero undeniably left out in the cold. But don’t shed too many tears for Green Lantern just yet – he had his chance, and as Hal Jordan so rarely does, failed to impress.
The role played by Ryan Reynolds may be fresher on some fans’ minds than others, as the absence of a cosmic ringslinger in Zack Snyder’s Justice League is becoming harder to ignore (but no less tragic with time). That’s probably the reason why, since the very beginning of the DCEU, rumors of a Green Lantern re-casting and return have swirled, with recent reports that a new Green Lantern will debut in Justice League. If that weren’t enough, a rumor of the actor secretly cast in the role – Armie Hammer – continues to get the ball rolling.
But as Armie Hammer continues to tease DCEU fans online, we’re casting a wider net. If Hal Jordan really is coming to the Justice League before leading the announced Green Lantern Corps ensemble adventure, then DC will need an actor up to the task… and we’ve got a few ideas that fans may want to get behind.
See if your top contender can be found (in no particular order) on our list of 15 Actors Who Could Play Green Lantern Hal Jordan.
15. Brett Dalton
He’s no stranger to the comic book fan community, and the disappointment expressed when Brett Dalton’s ‘Ward’ left Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is a testament to his charm and likability. And while a leap from Marvel to DC and a leap from the small screen to the big one may be uncommon, there’s no overstating just how much Dalton elevated the Marvel TV series in its second and third seasons. Beyond his shift from hero to villain, the characterization and multi-faceted performance from Dalton made him not just one of Marvel’s best villains to date, but a character fans wanted to keep seeing, and believe could be turned back to good.
That kind of investment only comes when an actor can portray an inherently likable hero, a sympathetic villain, and above all, a crowd pleaser. The big screen Green Lantern has taken some heavy hits already, and if DC plans to start from scratch, then any momentum of fan attention is a bonus. Not to mention that Dalton turned AoS into a highlight reel for any studio looking for a comic book leading man. Since that door is closed at Marvel, given their restrictions on re-casting actors in other projects, Marvel’s loss could be DC’s gain.
14. Patrick Wilson
If we’re looking at actors who have some experience portraying a superhero in a big budget studio blockbuster – and happen to have a working history with Zack Snyder, in particular – then Patrick Wilson has to enter the discussion. Having portrayed both the human and heroic sides of a costumed superhero in Snyder’s Watchmen, Wilson’s been through the process once before – well aware of the tone of a Snyderverse project. He’s also technically a member of the DCEU, having voiced the President in Batman V Superman‘s final act.
Not only that, but he’s proven himself to be one of the most reliable actors working today, pairing leading man good looks with a willingness to explore characters, genres, and storytelling in all forms (praise specifically given by Aquaman director James Wan, having directed Wilson in two Conjuring films). That experience leaves us with little doubt that Wilson could hold his own opposite Ben Affleck, Henry Cavill and Gal Gadot, and be pretty darn charming in the process. Not only that, but an ensemble cast for a Corps story would have a reliable anchor in Wilson, equally able to go dramatic or comedic, since his comedy chops are as natural as Hal Jordan’s.
[Update: Patrick Wilson HAS joined the DCEU family… but as Ocean Master in Aquaman. Get the details HERE!]
13. Bradley Cooper
Fans have been discussing appropriate actors who could pull off Hal Jordan for years now, and have relied upon animated portrayals to help make their case. In the animated Lantern features and TV shows, it’s Hal Jordan’s sense of humor and swagger that have taken the spotlight – which is a major reason why Bradley Cooper has made his way to the top of many fan debates (while many still remain unconvinced). But if DC and Warner Bros. are intent (as it appears they are) on finding established, recognizable, dramatically-proven actors to headline their franchises, Cooper makes sense.
Having done his share of drama and comedy in the past, Cooper hasn’t added a broad, big budget action movie to his repertoire just yet. That could be a sign of where the actor’s interests lie, but finding actors with as easy a charm and wit – paired with leading man credentials – is harder than it might seem. He may not be the first pick for every fan’s version of Hal Jordan, but he could definitely pull of a Hal Jordan. That being said, we also had Cooper pegged as a fitting casting for the part of Guy Gardner in the Corps team-up… even before he was showing his snarky side as the voice of Rocket in Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy.
12. Luke Evans
Taking another step off the beaten path (at least where Hollywood studios are concerned), we’ll throw Welsh actor Luke Evans into the discussion. Evans has been on our radar for some time now, distinguishing himself as a more-than-accomplished dramatic actor in the UK in roles both heroic and villainous (and raising the proceedings of Furious 6 by his presence alone). Once he proved he couldn’t just carry a troubled would-be blockbuster in Universal’s Dracula Untold, but make it downright enjoyable, it seemed only a matter of time before he rose to Hollywood’s heights of classically-trained thespians recruited to bring some sophistication to their superhero universes.
He’s already familiar to the Warner Bros. machine for his part as ‘Bard the Bowman’ in Peter Jackson’s Hobbit films, and about to make an even bigger splash into North American theaters as the conceited and cruel Gaston in Disney’s live-action Beauty and the Beast. So if DC Films wants to send a clear message that they’re not looking to repeat the previous cribbing of a Marvel-esque zany space comedy, giving Evans a leading role would raise our hopes dramatically (and imply DC Films under Geoff Johns will be focusing on the more epic, dramatically complex GL storylines). He’s already been discussed as a potential villain, but… heroes get sequels.
11. Armie Hammer
Obviously, given the amount of playful teasing coming directly from the actor himself, we must consider Armie Hammer in the part of the Justice League’s emerald ace. So, we’ll bite, how good a Hal Jordan would Hammer really make? The question will take plenty of fans by surprise, even th0ugh he was once just weeks away from playing Batman in George Miller’s scrapped Justice League Mortal. It would have potentially made Hammer a hit (or a miss) overnight, but these days, it looks like he’s downright inviting audiences to consider him in the part of a superhero. Even if his previous performance as a classic masked hero went… less than flawlessly.
But putting The Lone Ranger aside, Hammer has turned in enough strong, or simply intriguing performances to make him a risk that a studio could still be convinced to take. That thinking may not be the right mindset for WB, however, since a film with “Sexiest Man Alive” Ryan Reynolds still floundered for too many reasons to count. Hammer has the looks, size, and poster boy appeal to look the part of Hal Jordan, but what he would bring to the part depends entirely on how Snyder and the studio are expecting Green Lantern to fit among the rest of the DCEU’s heroes. Is he expected to stand alongside the older, more powerful heroes, or the younger, more energetic roster? Somewhere in the middle? At this point, the amount of teases have us mostly convinced Hammer isn’t playing a Lantern, but if he was, we’d be curious to hear the studio’s overall plan.
10. Alex O’Loughlin
The days of pursuing lesser-known actors to make decades-long contracts more attractive appear to be over, as superhero film budgets rocket into the hundreds of millions. That being said, Green Lantern remains a film with unique challenges. And if executives (Geoff Johns included) feel that one of the problems with the original film may have been a star who loomed over the story or mythology, then casting a lesser known – but nonetheless proven- actor could be a more appealing route. And in the world of working actors pulling off the role of an unconventional police officer, Alex O’Loughlin remains an interesting choice.
Fans of CBS’s Hawaii Five-O will likely be on board, since O’Loughlin has added his name to the list of criminally-underrated leading men on cable police procedurals, but for DC fans, a bit of research into the Aussie’s work on and off camera will do our work for us. Especially if the DCEU is looking to avoid the slightly-off brand of one-liner wisecracks of Reynolds’ performance, and stick to the determined leader Hal Jordan eventually became. If that’s the case, then O’Loughlin, quite simply, looks, acts, and feels the part already.
9. Jake Gyllenhaal
Ask any movie fan on the street if they would accept millions of dollars to star in as many romantic comedies as their schedule allowed, and most would jump at the chance. But just as Ben Affleck was forced to endure the shift from leading man to punchline before proving his true talents, Jake Gyllenhaal has tread a similar path. The rom-com audience may know Gyllenhaal for his looks and unwavering charms, but his recent performances in films like Nightcrawler, Southpaw and Prisoners have reminded the critical community that it’s easy to underestimate his dramatic chops – and his best years may just be ahead of him.
Now, that recent resume might imply that a blockbuster, sci-fi adventure might not be up his alley, but with the lead in Ubisoft’s The Division on the horizon, and a proven willingness to take some truly experimental roles, it’s not out of the question. Gyllenhaal has been in the running for a number of superhero roles in the past, so it may be that an edgy, out-there Green Lantern could be the kind of part he’s been waiting for. The decision could ultimately hinge on the story and director in line for future films, but who knows: maybe a part opposite Ben Affleck is the kind of strange twist of fate both actors would seize?
8. Lee Pace
Add one more actor who managed to pop up on the radar of Marvel Studios, before being issued a one-and-done part as the villain our heroes must vanquish before credits roll. But Lee Pace may actually be least known to wide audiences for his almost unrecognizable turn as Ronan the Accuser in Guardians of the Galaxy, given the blue and black makeup, bulky costume, and augmented voice. What fans of Pushing Daisies and Halt and Catch Fire know is that Pace has the chops to deliver a performance that’s heartwarming, endearing, effortlessly funny, tortured, charismatic, contemplative, or any combination thereof.
Those words almost all apply to Hal Jordan’s character at some point in his career, so if DC is thinking of the long term, having an actor who can handle the entire spectrum – with the size and looks to convince us Hal is a superhero-in-the-making – would be wise. There’s no doubt in our minds that Pace has the skills to turn in a leading performance, or do the character proud in one or more ensembles. But more than anything, a role that would manage to capitalize on his comedic and dramatic pedigree isn’t a matter of if, only when.
7. John Krasinski
It’s hard to tell if John Krasinski’s name rose to the conversation surrounding a DCEU Hal Jordan before or after he packed on muscle to portray an elite American soldier in Michael Bay’s 13 Hours. Either way, his ability to convincingly star as a killing machine (who just wants to get back to his family) changed plenty of opinions about The Office alum. Enough to land him a role as Tom Clancy’s famous CIA analyst Jack Ryan in Amazon’s upcoming series – and enough to build a fan following demanding he be put in the emerald suit opposite the likes of Ben Affleck’s Batman and Henry Cavill’s Superman.
Lest we forget, Krasinki was already one of the actors in the running for the part of Captain America – a part he gave up on after seeing the size of Chris Hemsworth’s muscles. It’s hard to imagine that, had he landed the part, his version of Cap wouldn’t have a healthier sense of humor… which makes the resulting character pretty darn close to the flyboy-swagger of Hal “Hi-Ball” Jordan. Again, the angle Snyder and DC have in mind could be the deciding factor. But if Hal and the Lanterns are expected to lighten the mood, or simply the spectacle of the Earthound DCEU heroes, Krasinski would be an exciting choice.
6. Anson Mount
We’ve covered the goofy and comedic, now let’s get down to the gritty. He may be best known as the leading man of AMC’s cult western Hell on Wheels, but beneath the beard and hair of his character is an actor not all that different from Hal Jordan brought to life. Although his acting reel may be mainly filled with smaller-scale projects than a superhero blockbuster, it’s truly his time carrying the drama, the oppressive atmosphere, and the neverending turmoil of Cullen Bohannon that convinces us Mount isn’t just due for a bigger role, but another perfect pick should DC be seeking a known, but not distracting star.
It’s a strange twist of fate that Mount shares his show with Common, once in line to play Green Lantern John Stewart alongside Armie Hammer’s Batman. But it’s Mount who has our attention, considering that his other roles tend to highlight both his imposing, brooding manner, with convincing charm belying such a rough exterior. With Hell on Wheels having run its course, we’d be interested to see how he would tackle another ensemble role, as an uneasy leader of a band of misfits… clean shaven, for a change.
5. Matt Damon
There are only so many jokes that can be made before we have to address them, and even before Ben Affleck had signed into the DCEU, Matt Damon was at the top of plenty of fan casts for a Green Lantern film (at a time when such A-listers seemed a longshot for such a superhero role). But as the ‘Matt and Ben as Batman and Robin’ memes began to arrive, and Damon himself discussed the idea of playing a DC hero, those old ideas of Damon as Hal Jordan came crawling back, ready to be taken seriously.
What makes Damon an interesting suggestion – aside from his recent onslaught of physically-demanding action roles – is the fact that he conveys the experience of a man his age, while still possessing an undeniably youthful energy when called upon. If there were any doubts he could handle both drama and comedy with the best of them, Ridley Scott’s The Martian proved it handily, with Damon spending most of the film by himself, no less. Nobody would seriously suggest that Damon couldn’t pull such a role off to the delight of mass audiences, but his fame does cast a big shadow… but that also means he has the box office clout to blow memories of the 2006 film out the back door for good.
4. James Marsden
We have no choice but to nominate James Marsden for a truly starring role in DC’s superhero universe, since Hollywood studios continue, for some reason, to cast him as under-utilized characters alongside other heroes. Superman Returns is the prime example (and many would still argue that Marsden would have done the Man of Steel role justice), but even his casting as presumed leader of the X-Men ended up taking a back seat to Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine. It’s never too late to set things right, and if there’s one role that this wholesome, handsome, and perpetually likable actor could make sing, it’s Hal Jordan.
Aside from the fact that Marsden simply looks like the kind of person you would expect to be wearing a bomber jacket or flying the Air Force’s most experimental aircraft without fear, the studio’s apparent apprehensions would actually make Green Lantern a fitting role. If his clout as a certified superhero star has yet to be proven once and for all, then an ensemble cast for Green Lantern Corps solves the problem, while making sure that the archetypal hero of the group is in hands tailor-made for it. If there’s one thing we learned from HBO’s Westworld, it’s that James Marsden is a hero that audiences want to get behind. And given GL‘s track record on film, that’s not a bad thing.
3. Sam Claflin
We’ve covered our bases should DC and Warner Bros. be looking to place Hal Jordan, leader of the human Lanterns alongside the older roster of Justice League superheroes, but what if they want to take him young? More specifically, young and devastatingly charming? The DCEU doesn’t have a classic “heartthrob” just yet, and any fan of The Hunger Games series will tell you that actor Sam Claflin lived up to the hype of Finnick Odair. Fortunately, he’s also an incredibly gifted young actor whose star is already on the rise.
More recently, Claflin won the hearts of romance fans (and the studio) by starring opposite Emilia Clarke in Me Before You, a novel adaptation that soared to over $200 million on a budget one-tenth the size. Set to take a starring role alongside an impressive cast in Journey’s End, Claflin is the exact kind of talent DC will need if they intend on making their Green Lantern Corps an assembly of personalities, not just comic book characters or cosmic threats. And if the intention is to make Hal Jordan the heart of the group, while bringing smiles to the audiences’ faces (one common criticism of the DCEU as a whole) then Claflin would be up to the task.
2. Joel Edgerton
Since this is the DCEU we’re talking about, it’s entirely possible that our first Green Lantern will be opening the door to a sprawling, epic, mythology-soaked space opera turning one human being into the savior of all life in the galaxy. After all, that actually is the story of Hal Jordan. And with Geoff Johns now overseeing DC Films, the man who thought up some of the most dramatic, devastating, and heart-wrenching narrative the character ever faced is helping to shape the next live-action adaptation. That means Justice League could need a Lantern for whom these troubles of Earth pale in comparison to the threats against the galaxy – and if that demands an actor up to the challenge, then we may have finally found the superhero role that Joel Edgerton will accept.
The case here may be easier to make than any other on our list, since Edgerton has not just portrayed nearly every kind of character you could think of, but won accolades in the process. He’s already distinguished himself as one of the best actors in his generation, managing to convey depth and emotion without cracking his exterior – be it the guise of an everyman (Warrior), an arrogant jerk (The Great Gatsby) or a chilling villain (The Gift). We don’t yet know just how hard DC and WB will be working to make Green Lantern a winning franchise, but if they’re swinging for the fences, then they should set their casting hopes just as high.
1. Toby Stephens
While a total unknown to plenty of our readers, listeners of our Total Geekall podcast won’t be surprised to see actor Toby Stephens find a spot on our list as the best of both worlds: an actor who would allow audiences to accept him as Hal Jordan, and nobody else, and more than capable of turning in a downright stunning performance. Some may recall Stephens from his role as nemesis to Pierce Brosnan’s Bond in Die Another Day, or a number of roles in mainly UK productions (Robin Hood, Strike Back). But it’s Stephens’ virtuoso performance in Starz’s Black Sails that has shown his true knack for character drama – should the material and direction demand more than swagger and swashbuckling.
It’s not the role of the plucky, daring test pilot who suddenly becomes a cosmic cop that we have in mind for Stephens, but that of an older, experienced, and most importantly informed Hal Jordan. It’s a wrinkle that may be unavoidable for the DCEU: since Bruce Wayne and Wonder Woman have been on the job for decades by the present day, it only seems right that the arrival of our first Green Lantern should be similarly experienced – especially if new Earth recruits are going to be brought into the fold in Green Lantern Corps a few years later.
With threats of New Gods, Brainiac, and too many other cosmic mysteries expected or rumored, Hal Jordan being the one member actually well-versed in the mythology would be a clever way of making him integral to the team (in ways that the previous film never actually reached). And if you’re looking for an older, wiser, capable Lantern who’s still equal parts charming and professional, then Stephens has our vote.
So what do you think of our list? Have we missed any of your favorite contenders, or has an entry convinced you that WB and DC can make no other decision? Let us know your own thoughts and choices in the comments.