The outlook on a Justice League movie continues to be cloudy, but if DC Comics and Warner Bros. are going to begin development this decade, then the question of bringing back previous actors to reprise roles is the first set of decisions that must be made. Henry Cavill playing Superman post-Man of Steel (2013) seems like a no-brainer, even if Christian Bale's return is still a total mystery.
But lest we forget the ugly stepchild in DC's family of superhero films - Green Lantern (2011) - the fate of Hal Jordan and the emerald ring must be addressed. Re-cast the role, bring in a new Lantern, or have Ryan Reynolds return? That decision may have become a lot easier, as Reynolds makes it clear that he's in no hurry to return to the character.
In an interview with Empire while promoting his new film The Croods (2013), Reynolds was asked if he had been contacted by Warner Bros. to talk about reprising his role as Hal Jordan in a possible Justice League team-up. Reynolds' comments certainly make rumors of DC and WB hatching a plan in secret seem even less likely - and may be less enthusiastic than fans hope:
"Not yet. I don't know. If you're gonna do comic book movies in that vein, you really have to get them right. I believe that Joss Whedon is the guy that just nails it and Christopher Nolan obviously nails it. So if they were gonna do it like that, it would be an interesting thing to do. It's just that... working on Green Lantern, I saw how difficult it is make that concept palatable, and how confused it all can be when you don't really know exactly where you're going with it or you don't really know how to access that world properly - that world comic book fans have been accessing for decades and falling in love with. So at this point I have very little interest in joining that kind of world. But, you know, a great script and a good director can always turn that around."
The troubles that director Martin Campbell and the rest of the creative team behind Green Lantern had adapting the story from page to screen are no secret - evident to anyone who saw the film - so it's been assumed that the misstep may have soured Reynolds on any potential return. And while we maintain that Green Lantern 2 could still be saved, it's hard not to side with Reynolds' lukewarm interest in committing to DC's next exploration of the character. That being said, it's not out of the question.
As the only DC hero who was forced to go it alone, without the writing talents of David S. Goyer or Christopher Nolan, GL was taking bigger risks than either Batman or Superman were saddled with (and heavily following Marvel's formula). The results speak for themselves, and even if Nolan is clear that Man of Steel is Zack Snyder's film, his presence can't help but increase a film's odds of success. So what would the rumors of Nolan executive producing Justice League do for Reynolds' enthusiasm?
Reynolds, like most blockbuster actors when asked about superhero films, is for now taking the "show me a good script, and I'll be interested" stance. Given the number of projects that would kill to have Reynolds in a lead role, that's not surprising. And if every fan is completely honest, would they even want to see a Justice League movie that Reynolds deemed unworthy of a return? Keep in mind that he's not only a comic book fan, but actually tried to make Green Lantern work. However fans feel about Reynolds' performance, the studio needs to make up their mind soon.
There's just no way of getting around it: a Justice League movie needs a Green Lantern. Every instance of DC's super-team has one, and if Nolan's Dark Knight trilogy and Snyder's Man of Steel represent the formula Warner Bros. intends to follow, then a majority of the characters on screen for Justice League will need origin stories. Getting by with introducing Wonder Woman or Flash in the team-up picture can be made to work, but if the Green Lantern on screen isn't the one fans recognize as-played-by the 'Sexiest Man Alive,' they are in serious trouble.
So Warner Bros. and DC need to make up their minds (if there's any hope of a defined direction for the overall movie emerging) on the future of the Green Lantern: either introduce a new hero in a separate movie, be it John Stewart to attract younger audiences or Guy Gardner for a different tone, or get a story for Justice League in place that convinces Reynolds that the same mistake won't be made twice. Evidence suggests his standards aren't incredibly high, so even if Nolan isn't attached to direct or supply the script with Goyer (why wouldn't they?) he might come around.
It's certainly not an ideal position to be in, but Warner Bros. got themselves into this mess by introducing one of DC Comics' keystone heroes in an arguably flawed movie. And if they can't find themselves out of it, then the chances of a Justice League movie anytime soon are slim, since the studio already has two cash cows franchises to call on.
What do you think of Reynolds' comments? Are you on his side, and feel that the studio needs to prove they've realized their mistakes before he'll return? Or would you prefer a completely fresh start with Justice League, whatever risks that might entail? Leave your thoughts in the comments.
We'll keep you updated on Justice League when - and if - something official is announced.
Follow Andrew on Twitter @andrew_dyce.