How The DCEU's Green Lantern Will Be "Reinvented"
Many have interpreted Johns' comments about the upcoming Green Lantern film being a "reinvention" of the character as a significant overhaul of the central premise and tenets we associate with the character, but a close look at Johns' other comments about integrating aspects of his comic book run show that's not necessarily the case. He's actually embracing a number of things he's already done in the comics, meaning his "reimagine" and "reinvent" statements are targeted more towards the live-action version of the character, trying to differentiate this project from the 2011 Ryan Reynolds movie.
That film whiffed on many of the things that make Green Lantern such an appealing concept. Ryan Reynolds' Hal Jordan was a smarmy, whiny jerk who didn't really seem worthy of being a universal protector. And for a character who can do almost anything and go virtually anywhere in the universe, an inordinate amount of the film took place on Earth with Hal blasting away at undercooked villains who feel ported in from any other run of the mill comic book film. It was clearly an attempt to take advantage of the style and aesthetic of the MCU's wildly successful phase 1 films, and it failed miserably.
The current plan for future DCEU projects favors self-contained worlds over shared universe team-ups, which is an obvious opportunity for DC to explore science fiction and cosmic space stories through Green Lantern. It's long been understood that Green Lantern Corps would feature both Hal Jordan and John Stewart, with a veteran Hal introducing a rookie John into the universal police force - though it's not out of the realm of possibility Johns will jettison that concept. Johns' suggestion that many aspects of his comic run will be integrated into the film suggests two things in particular; the first is that the emotional spectrum will play a central role, which will massively expand the dimensions of this particular corner of the DCEU, to the point that dozens of potential stories could be told before a Green Lantern ever needed to meet Superman or Batman. It could also offer up some legitimate villains with the likes of Atrocitus, the leader of the rage-fueled Red Lantern Corps, who was made into a monster by the GLs masters, the Guardians of the Universe, and Larfleeze, the one and only member of the Orange Lantern Corps, which derives its power from the orange light of greed.
The second thing this suggests is that the film will dive much deeper into the relationship that ultimately defined Johns' run: the murky sometimes friendship/sometimes rivalry between Hal Jordan and Sinestro. Whereas the Hal of the 2011 film was a largely unlikeable loser, Johns' Hal struck a much more charming balance, equal parts Chuck Yeager, James T. Kirk, and Top Gun's Maverick (making those Tom Cruise rumors all the more intriguing). After Hal suffered for decades as either Green Arrow's centrist punching bag, a middle-aged mope, or a psychotic villain, it felt like Johns had finally found the core of the character. And rather than the two-dimensional mustache twirler of the Silver Age, Sinestro was reframed as a deeply flawed, but perhaps not quite irredeemable man. He taught Hal everything he knew about being a Green Lantern and was incredibly wary of the amoral Guardians of the Universe, but he also essentially enslaved his own planet in pursuit of order, and waged war on institutions and civilizations that didn't deserve it.
An epic space opera between Hal and Sinestro, with a rookie John Stewart as something of an audience surrogate, would be a tremendous departure from the 2011 film, while staying true to the things that people love about the world of Green Lantern. It would also present a flavor that isn't currently being offered in the DCEU, which would be in keeping with the new, more diverse storytelling strategy for the shared universe. The DCEU needs to offer moviegoers something distinctly different from Marvel, and Green Lantern presents more than a solid opportunity to shed some of the well-worn superhero film tropes that have saturated the genre over the last decade.
Green Lantern likely has the most difficult task of any DC movie currently in the pipeline. Casual audiences still associate the character with the failed 2011 Ryan Reynolds film, and the Deadpool 2 after credits scene is only going to reinforce that association. Warner Bros. has seemed genuinely unsure of how to utilize the character going forward. But if anyone can figure out a way to pull Green Lantern out of its lowest depths, it's Geoff Johns. His seven-year run on the comic is still the crowning achievement of his career, and no one has shaped the character's world to the degree he has. It's been a long, miserable wait for Green Lantern fans, but the blue light of hope just might be on the horizon.
- Aquaman (2018) release date: Dec 21, 2018
- Shazam! (2019) release date: Apr 05, 2019
- Wonder Woman 1984 (2020) release date: Jun 05, 2020
- Joker (2019) release date: Oct 04, 2019