Hal Jordan in the Comic Books
The Hal Jordan of the comic books – and especially Secret Origin – isn’t too far removed from the one played by Ryan Reynolds. Before finding Abin Sur and becoming the first human Green Lantern ever, he was just a cocky jet pilot, not unlike Maverick from Top Gun. And speaking of similarities to a certain 1980s Tom Cruise film, Hal is also following in the footsteps of his jet pilot father, who died in a plane crash that Hal witnessed as a small child.
Amongst other things, Hal’s a bit of a ladies man, he can be a jerk from time to time, and he’s always wearing his father’s leather jacket when he’s not “Green Lanterning around,” for lack of a better phrase. In terms of appearance, the Hal Jordan of the comic books resembles the stereotypical fighter pilot of yore – usually seen in movie serials and what have you – with wavy brown hair, a strong jaw, and self-confident swagger (he was modeled after a young Paul Newman, after all).
As Green Lantern, he wears white gloves instead of…uh, green everything, as was depicted in the film. Recently, when drawn by the likes of Ethan Van Sciver and Ivan Reis, his suit has become more “animated,” with the Green Lantern insignia literally popping out of his chest like one of those screen saver bouncy balls.
In Secret Origin, Hal’s big character development is that he overcomes the anger he’s held onto since childhood – the hatred he has had for Carl Ferris, Carol Ferris’ father, whom he blames for his own father’s death. At the end of Secret Origin, he lets go of that hatred when he realizes that love is the only way to live, or something. It’s a bit more nuanced than that, but you get what I’m saying.
Hal Jordan from the Movie
Hal Jordan as played by Ryan Reynolds is, like I said, a lot like his comic book counterpart. In fact, most of the things I said about Comic Book Hal Jordan could easily be attributed to Cinematic Hal Jordan.
With the exception of that little thing called character development. In Secret Origin, Hal doesn’t go around crying like a baby about having been chosen to be Sector 2814’s Green Lantern. “Oh, woe is me! I’ll never be able to handle all this power and responsibility!” He doesn’t mope and whine about being afraid all the time, and his great life lesson isn’t “learning how to overcome fear.” The same, sadly, cannot be said of the film, which does all these things and more.
(By the way: Thanks, Blake Lively, for letting us know what Hal Jordan’s problem was verbatim.)
Worse still, Hal of the film gets what seems like a 25-minute training session from Kilowog and Sinestro on Oa before deciding to stomp off like a toddler on a tantrum because he can’t handle the responsibility. What should’ve been the thrust of the entire film – learning how to become a Green Lantern – gets shunted to several minutes of screen time full of exposition dumps.
Hal Jordan of the comic books would be ashamed, Hal Jordan of the film. A-shamed.
Advantage: The Comic Books – because Hal Jordan isn’t a big, fat baby in them.