Make It So: Green Lantern Corps the Movie by Jerry Whitworth
2010 was a transition period for DC Comics film adaptations. Batman Begins (2005) and The Dark Knight (2008) were massive box office hits and by 2010, Christopher Nolan was developing the final film for his Dark Knight trilogy. Alternatively, Superman Returns (2006), which was intended to be the Man of Steel’s big return to theaters, under performed and its sequel intended to be released in 2009 was scrapped. Development of a Wonder Woman movie was in limbo as Joss Whedon spent two years trying to get his picture made while in 2010 it looked like the Amazonian princess was going to become a television series from David E. Kelley that didn’t pan out. Writers Greg Berlanti, Michael Green, and Marc Guggenheim were tasked with bringing Green Lantern and the Flash to the big screen, the former for 2011 and latter soon after. But then, Green Lantern (2011) bombed at box office. Terribly rendered CGI (especially the Green Lantern’s uniform), a poorly written script that was overly goofy, and just an overall joyless viewing endeavor, the film was a financial and critical failure (though, Berlanti would later get to tackle the Flash, just on the small screen). The stink of the film remained for years, Ryan Reynolds trying to revive his poorly received portrayal of Deadpool in 2009’s X-Men Origins: Wolverine for a featured film only to carry another albatross around his neck while development of Man of Steel (2013), intended to create a DC Extended Universe similar to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, virtually abandoned all mention of Green Lantern for the burgeoning brand. It wouldn’t be until 2017 that the Green Lantern earned so much as a brief cameo and mention in the film Justice League that there existed any hope of its return. Recently, it was announced the DC Extended Universe will finally produce a new Green Lantern movie reportedly set to premier in 2020. Lets take a look at what such a film might entail.
When Green Lantern (2011) was announced to feature Hal Jordan in 2008, many were disappointed. While Jordan was the original Silver Age Green Lantern, casual people only knew about John Stewart from appearing on the Justice League animated series from 2001 to 2006 (in fact, the script that existed before Greg Berlanti was hired featured Stewart as did George Miller’s scrapped Justice League: Mortal film). Many people, unaware of Jordan’s existence, felt Green Lantern was being whitewashed. Featuring John Stewart in the upcoming film fixes several issues. The most obvious, if people still remember the 2011 film (which the studio appears to believe they do given what’s noted), a completely new person in the role makes sense. Of course, the next most obvious issue is the viewed slight of employing Jordan in the first place when Stewart was more well known at the time (which may not be as accurate today but it’s likely people still fondly remember him from Justice League). There is also the fact Black Panther (2018), featuring a predominantly black cast with many black creatives working behind the scenes, is the third highest grossing film ever in the United States and ninth highest grossing film of all time. John Stewart is a no-brainer and arguably the character more closely matches the universe DC is trying to create with its DC Extended Universe. While Jordan was a test pilot, Stewart is a highly-decorated, honorably discharged Marine turned successful architect. Considering the threat posed by Steppenwolf in Justice League (2017) and the likely use of Darkseid in the future, a soldier makes more sense than a pilot daredevil. This aspect can also be played up in the film. What if, at some level, the 2011 film took place in the DCEU but Jordan is MIA and the Earth needs a new Lantern prompting the emergence of Stewart? Further, the 2011 film employed a Parallax empowered Hector Hammond and teased Sinestro for a sequel that never surfaced when Hammond in the comics has become a minor foe (especially given the current prominence of the various power ring corps) and Sinestro is the virtually unequivocal nemesis of the Corps. What does this mean for the proposed Corps film? Namely, the Sinestro Corps War.
While an opposing power ring force wasn’t necessarily groundbreaking (the Anti-Green Lantern Corps was created in 1982, for example), the scale of the Sinestro Corps was massive. Not only realizing the premonition for Alan Moore’s Blackest Night scenario from a tale he spun in 1986, Geoff Johns and Dave Gibbons’ 2007 event “Sinestro Corps War” upped the ante with the use of Cyborg Superman, Superman Prime, and the Anti-Monitor. While unlikely these malevolent Guardians will transition into the film, having the universe at war between the Lanterns and Sinestro Corps could explain the absence of Jordan as well as the Guardians of the Universe’s lack of involvement with the events of Justice League (2017) while making Sinestro the marquee villain for the franchise alongside a threat that would truly make the picture a Green Lantern Corps movie. Stewart has a number of intriguing aspects of his life to call back to in the film, elements like when he was wheelchair bound for a time in the comics or as a successful architect and political activist (where his training as a Marine sniper could mean flashbacks to his time on Earth in the service). Kilowog could remain in his role as a drill instructor from the previous film but gone would be the training cycle given Stewart’s drop into a veritable hot zone. The stakes would be made clear to Stewart that if the Lanterns lose the war here, it will come to Earth and no force there could halt it prompting him to action. The cast of Lanterns for the film has a lot of options to choose from considering its roster of thousands.
The first prominent cast of Green Lanterns in the comics was the Earth Corps lead by Hal Jordan and John Stewart that included Katma Tui, Kilowog, Arisia, Salaak, and Ch’p (which saw Guy Gardner and G’nort transition in later on). Tui, of course, became Stewart’s wife in the comics until her death at the hands of Jordan’s on-again/off-again lover Carol Ferris under the influence of the Star Sapphire. Also, it should be noted Arisia was romantically involved with Jordan for a time. More recently, while Jordan, Stewart, Gardner, Kilowog, and Kyle Rayner formed a central base for the Lantern titles, fellow ring bearers Soranik Natu, Isamot Kol, Vath Sarn, Iolande, Arisia, Sodam Yat, Green Man, Stel, Mogo, and Bzzd rose to prominence in the brand. It’s likely the film will blend together these casts, picking and choosing those that lend themselves best to the story to tell. As for the Sinestro Corps, it’s likely Bedovian, Despotellis, Fatality, Ranx the Sentient City, Lyssa Drak, Karu-Sil, Arkillo, and, obviously, Sinestro will feature prominently in the story as central figures of the conflict. As the film could encapsulate the Sinestro Corps War, sequels conceivably could transition to Earth with the War of Light and Blackest Night to form a Green Lantern trilogy.
Establishing the War of Light wouldn’t be too challenging, perhaps having Sinestro move his conflict to Earth after his struggles with Jordan and Stewart. The initial picture could end with a montage like Atrocitus, Bleez, and Dex-Starr observing Sinestro’s retreat; a darkened room becomes illuminated in orange as Larfleeze laments so many power rings; at Ferris Aircraft, Carol hears a noise and believes it’s Jordan only to see a sapphire on her mantle glowing bright purple; and beaten, broken, Hal Jordan is shown sprawled across the ground of some unknown world as a blue light approaches him. This would lend itself to Blackest Night as the fallen of the first two movies return as foes and the Indigo Tribe must surface to defeat Nekron. Further, depending on the state the DCEU may find itself by this point, the door would be open to Brightest Day and beyond.