[Update: rumors claim that another Green Lantern contender, Chris Pine may be back in the running!]
As the enthusiasm and excitement builds for the cast of Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice and the Justice League team-ups and solo films to follow, one hero remains left out of the fun. After Green Lantern got his chance to shine - with disappointing results - it came as less than a surprise when WB's release schedule put the next GL movie in 2020 - and likely a reboot.
Since then, rumors have swirled that the studio would choose not just a new Green Lantern actor, but a new character as well. Specifically, John Stewart, the version of the hero that carried the title in DC's animated universe. Not to mention the role that had previously gone to actor/hip hop artist Common - and apparently, a role he would still like to play.
There may be some who never heard the news surrounding Justice League Mortal, the DC Comics film to be directed by George Miller (Mad Max: Fury Road) in 2007 before Hollywood's writer strike sidelined the project indefinitely. At the time, it was John Stewart - not Hal Jordan - who would act as Lantern, with Common cast in the part. It may have seemed a risky choice, but he, like other cast members, would go on to show his talents in films like Street Kings and Selma, as well as the AMC series Hell on Wheels.
So while interviewing him for his role in the upcoming Run All Night, (after his co-star Joel Kinnaman confirmed a role in Suicide Squad), we made sure to bring up the recent news surrounding both Green Lantern and the return of John Stewart.
In the late 2000s you were attached to a possibly big superhero role, playing John Stewart, 'Green Lantern'. Any chance with the way things are going, that the opportunity might come back around?
Common: I would love to be John Stewart and play Green Lantern. That was one of those things where I was so excited because we rarely see African-American superheroes or people of color as a superhero. I think it would be great for the world to see, and for people to see, and for Hollywood to put that out there, too. But just for the world to see, just for kids to be able to see, for all nationalities to see a person of color as a superhero, too.
Plus, it’s just for the fun. Even the pre-production of getting the 'go' and studying Green Lantern. John Stewart is from Detroit, so he was this guy that was really for the community, and I really related to that. He used his powers to help people in the community. I was like, 'Man, I’m going to be John Stewart, the Green Lantern!' Unfortunately, it didn’t happen at that time. But maybe the possibility is that it could. I would love to.
Those who have followed Common's career throughout hip hop, poetry, and acting roles know that his connection to social and moral issues facing modern communities throughout America (and the world) is nothing new. Most recently, it was the artist's speech at this year's Academy Awards regarding Selma's message of hope that became one of the show's most powerful moments.
With Common still on board with bringing a meaningful take on John Stewart to life, it remains an extremely compelling decision on the part of director Zack Snyder and Warner Bros.. We've previously explained why John Stewart may be the superior pick for this movie universe, and the roots of the character can't be overlooked in a superhero film discussion centering more and more on ethnic diversity and representation.
As Common points out, John Stewart was a product of Detroit, Michigan, and his hometown and race were no coincidence - he was created to offer a no-sugar-coating examination of what it meant to be black in America in the 1970s. The reality of Detroit has only gotten more complicated since, but Common's personal politics, and Zack Snyder's decision to launch his Justice League universe from that same city teases a new hero too intriguing to bet against.
That hero may not be the most impressive or emotionally powerful, compared to a more well-versed or acclaimed actor. But WB and Zack Snyder are clearly not against taking some risky bets for their JL universe.
In hindsight, both Warner Bros. and Miller showed a talent for selecting future stars, with Armie Hammer (The Man From Uncle) set to play Batman, Teresa Palmer (Kill Me Three Times) as Talia al Ghul, and Jay Baruchel (This is The End) as villain Maxwell Lord. But fans who longed to see that younger version of the Justice League will be sad to hear just how close some of the cast came to filling their roles:
It was a crazy cast: George Miller, who has a huge film [Mad Max: Fury Road] coming out now, Armie Hammer... you have all flourished. It's kind of one of those crazy stories of Hollywood near-misses.
Common: Yeah. We were in Australia doing the thing. I mean I actually tried on the Green Lantern outfit.
How’d you look?
Green is your color?
Common: Yeah. [laughs] Green is my color. Green and black. He had it.
The promise of an existing Green Lantern movie costume may be too tempting to bear for DC Comics fans, especially considering the lukewarm reception given to the version seen in Green Lantern (2011). Common's version has yet to see the light of day, but to be honest, the filmmakers are likely better off starting fresh in that regard as well.
Yet it's best to move on from that botched attempt at a franchise launch (since Ryan Reynolds certainly has). Common certainly stops short of attempting to campaign for the part in WB's shared universe - leaving that to Tyrese Gibson - but we remain interested to see what version of Green Lantern audiences could see with him in the role.
What do you think of the idea? Does Common possess the screen presence and depth needed to make John Stewart show older audiences why he found success with a generation? Or do you have a different actor in mind for the part? Sound off in the comments.
Green Lantern is scheduled to release on June 19, 2020.