We may be living in a golden age of wish fulfilment and dreams come true for comic book fans, but as good as the present may be, the die-hard enthusiasts (and corporate entities profiting off of them) can’t help but look to the future. In a similar sense, the wealth of superheroes and properties on their way to the big and small screens can’t help but single out those who aren’t: Green Lantern chief among them.
With the first series turning out to be a false start, some problem solving for Warner Bros. and DC Comics was unavoidable. But few would have predicted just how un-eager the studio was to re-imagine, re-cast, and reboot the series in 2020 – years after the Justice League‘s big screen debut. Now an unlikely source has hinted that the studio may be putting a plan together already – potentially turning to John Stewart as their next live-action Lantern.
After years of fans trying to forget the film series that could have been, and relying only on animated versions of the hero, Green Lantern has recently returned to the headlines. First it was Tyrese Gibson (Fast & Furious 7) kicking off his own campaign to play the hero, followed soon after by Arrow‘s David Ramsey confirming that his ‘John Diggle’ character was being discussed as a potential John Stewart in the making (as one fan theory has long suggested).
Unfortunately for those who hoped to see Diggle adopt an emerald ring, Arrow executive producer Marc Guggenheim told MTV News that a Green Lantern reveal was certainly not the plan going forward:
“It’s funny, I’ve spoken to David quite a bit about this issue, I know it keeps coming up… I spoke to Geoff Johns at DC after that interview went viral. Basically, John Diggle is now a character in the comics… John Diggle is John Diggle. We’re not being coy and saying John Diggle is someone else, i.e. John Stewart.
“DC has other plans for that character. We love David, and we love the character of John Diggle that he’s created. We have really cool plans for him… they involve a wedding ring, but they don’t involve a power ring.”
Guggenheim’s clarification will no doubt disappoint those who feel that Ramsey’s military-man turned crimefighter deserves a spotlight of his own, but being immortalized in the “Green Arrow” comic universe is no small consolation. However, the reasons – or, reason – given by Guggenheim for the lack of a power ring in Diggle’s future could prove extremely telling.
John Stewart is Already a Star
John Stewart may have been seen by many as a supporting character to Hal Jordan in DC’s published comics, but that’s far from the case in the animated universe. Ask any DC fan under the age of 25, and it’s Stewart they’ll first connect to the ‘Green Lantern’ moniker thanks to Justice League and Justice League Unlimited. It’s for that exact reason that John Stewart was a central figure in director George Miller’s eventually-cancelled Justice League Mortal (to be played by Common).
Hal Jordan has since returned to the spotlight in DC’s shared animated universe (influenced by, and expected to drive sales of DC’s New 52 catalogue), Ryan Reynolds has already taken a failed crack at the character on the big screen, and now one of the minds behind DC’s TV universe claims that a new “plan” for John Stewart is in the works – and it’s not difficult to make some predictions.
We would remind skeptics that a similar situation arose when Arrow executive producer Andrew Kreisberg shot down hopes of seeing Harley Quinn on the show’s own version of the Suicide Squad., stating that it had been discussed with DC Chief Creative Officer Geoff Johns, but ruled out since DC Comics “had other plans for her.” We speculated that those words implied a Suicide Squad film moving forward, and we know how that story ended.
Now, another producer cites mysterious (but apparently even more concrete) plans for John Stewart that rule him out for any incarnation on TV. Yet that implication isn’t much of a surprise, as many fans (ourselves included) have seen the introduction of Stewart as a means to cast aside the issues with Green Lantern (2011), while adding further diversity to an already varied Justice League roster.
And, if we’re honest, introducing a Green Lantern that could prove a far more compelling ensemble cast member than Hal Jordan’s fearless fighter pilot.
Why John Stewart Could Be An Improvement
Even if Ryan Reynolds was on board with returning to the role (which he isn’t), there’s no denying that his origin story is one moviegoers are all too familiar with. Ordinary man with great potential is inducted into a war far beyond his understanding, and rises to become one of its more accomplished soldiers. If that wasn’t already a well-established tale in comic book/science fiction/fantasy filmmaking, Marvel’s parade of superhero origin stories has seen to it by now.
Though a John Stewart-led Green Lantern film would likely keep many of those elements intact, the character comes with qualities and history that give the right writer/director team much more to work with. With the character’s 1971 introduction set against the backdrop of racial tension in America – Stewart an engineer from Detroit, Michigan – the intervening years haven’t shied away from that subject matter, though John’s origin was changed from an engineer to a former United States Marine.
Whether an academic or a serviceman, Hal Jordan has conceded that John was shaped by forces and events he never had to face, resulting in a man – and Green Lantern – whose sheer force of will has proven too much for even his ring to handle.
Beyond that, there’s something to be said for adding a level-headed, morally upstanding military man to the Justice League (as opposed to a fast-talking quipper). With Superman an alien farmboy, Wonder Woman a godlike princess, Aquaman an exiled(?) king, Cyborg a traumatized youth, and Batman a good old-fashioned vigilante, who wouldn’t want to see what a battle-hardened military veteran would have to say about the purpose and methods of a potential ‘Justice League’?
Next Page: The Evidence Thus Far
The Evidence Thus Far
We needn’t make the case that DC and Warner Bros. would be wise to add Stewart in place of Jordan (for now, at least), since there is evidence that the studio is already sharing the same idea. Besides having already cast John Stewart for one Justice League movie, rumors of Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson being up for the role in the now-revealed movie universe circled for some time. Johnson would eventually be cast as Black Adam in Shazam, but in revealing his ultimate casting, confirmed that a role as John Stewart had been discussed:
“DC and I have been talking for a couple of years now, trying to find whatever the right character is… It’s not Green Lantern, by the way. Believe me, John Stewart was a character that I wanted to play, but there was already a version of Green Lantern, so now we’ve gone in a different direction.”
That different direction proved to be Shazam‘s chief antagonist – or if you go by Johnson’s description, a charming anti-hero – which means his words concerning Green Lantern can be taken a number of ways. On the one hand, his mass appeal and likable presence is best served boosting a less-established hero, creating a popular villain in the process. On the other, Warner Bros. is in no hurry to set their GL plans in stone.
If it’s time they need, then time they have. But even if a solo Green Lantern film isn’t scheduled until 2020 (all dates subject to change), the studio may choose to add the hero beforehand (since solo movies after team-ups looks to be a part of the plan). We’ve laid out one theory on how Green Lantern could usher in the villain for Justice League Part 2, but if the first films in WB’s shared universe earn praise from critics or fans, then doors will open far enough ahead to be made use of.
How Hal Jordan Could Fit Into The Universe
It’s a potentially dangerous question, but one worth asking: would Ryan Reynolds be willing to reprise his role as Hal Jordan in the second Justice League film if it meant his character was sacrificed, retroactively improving the poor taste his origin film left in fans’ mouths? It’s a bold move to kill Hal Jordan (though the comics have done the same, and resurrected him later), but the move would open the door to John Stewart’s introduction within the same timeline or film – and prime audiences for his own origin story a year later.
As one of DC’s few legacy heroes (titles handed from one generation to the next) that doesn’t require decades to pass before switching leads, showing the Green Lantern brand to be bigger than one character or actor could prove useful. Especially if DC plans to invest in the long term, and lay groundwork for Guy Gardner or Kyle Rayner in the future.
We’ll keep you updated if and when more details on WB and DC’s plans for Stewart, Jordan, or any other live-action incarnation of Green Lantern arises. For now, let us know what you think of Guggenheim’s comments (and our own hopes and theories for the film franchise) in the comments below.
Green Lantern is scheduled to release on June 19, 2020.
Diggle Art: Erkan Bahadir.
Source: MTV News