Good question but you barely scratched the surface on Green Lanterns, you did not even mention Alan Scott or any of the other GL Corps Lanterns like Kilowog who probably have as much right as anyone to being the fan favorite GL.
As a Silver Age guy Hal was my Green Lantern growing up, but DC has so mucked this character over the last few years that i don't even recognize this guy as even being Hal Jordan anymore.
If someone put a gun to my head and demanded I pick one I would probably say Stewart but that is because he has been GL in all those great Bruce Timm JLA cartoons. Did not ever care much for Stewart's comic book stories.
When you have literally 100's of characters running around with the same powers and pretty much the same costume, how can any of them ever became the "definitive"?
As I understand the question, it's not "who is the Green Lantern you want to see today" but who and what circumstances and time period do you like best.
I personally liked the one I originally experienced, the Hal Jordan version from John Broome, Gil Kane, and Joe Giella, which at the time was mainly set on Earth. I think Green Lantern is more impressive when surrounded by ordinary humans and earth-originating supervillains. When he's with the Corps he's just one of many and no longer as impressive. He was a test pilot at the beginning of space exploration, as in The Right Stuff.
After returning to comics I starting getting the Kyle Rayner version. I thought Kyle worked in that as an artist he imagined a lot of great ring constructs.
My only exposure to John Stewart, since I was out of comics for ten years, was when he appeared in Kyle's series and his appearances in the cartoon shows. I was a little put off by his supposedly having destroyed an inhabited planet (doesn't everybody?).
I think the terminology of Hal and the others being "without fear" is antiquated. Fear is necessary for self-preservation in any human or non-human. It is overcoming that fear when necessary that is the trick. The only people without fear are either dead or in rubber rooms.
Maybe I missed it, but I never heard an explanation of Hal being the greatest Green Lantern either. As far as I am aware, his abilities and willpower have never been described as better than the rest of the Corps. Not having heard an explanation, I fear it's because he's a Caucasian Earthman from the USA.
In one of his stories in Action Hal appears on Oprah's television show and gives "I am totally without fear" line and everyone laughs at him. Being totally without fear is a lot like saying totally without common sense which i think we can agree is not something to be admired. So I agree with Richard that is antiquated idea that has been downplayed in recent years.
The irony of calling Hal the greatest GL of all has been pretty well made moot by his actions in recent years. It does look like being the GL of Earth and star of his own book seem to be the criteria that got him so chosen.A lot of the other Lanterns we have seen over the years have (to my mind anyway) shown just as well as Hal.
I've always been an Alan Scott guy, and I've always thought his story was more interesting than Hal Jordan's (of course, it's no secret on this board that I find Hal Jordan extraordinarily uninteresting). I also think Alan's supporting cast is more interesting as well.
That being said, my guess is that a GL movie centered around John Stewart would be quite good. Either that or Ch'p and G'nort re-enacting the 'hard travelin' heroes' saga.
I’m with Richard. I like the John Broome, Gil Kane, and Joe Giella version best, for pretty much the same reasons he cited. I think the GLC works best as a backdrop and not a focus.
I've always thought the DC heroes were best when, other than the JLA and occasional team up stories, each operated in his own somewhat insulated world. As such, the Kane/Broome version fits the bill for me. If I am not mistaken, Murphy Anderson, Sid Greene and Kane himself inked the GL series in addition to Giella's run during this time period.
If you are talking about best looking GL then the early Kane era when Kane and the other mentioned artists were working on the book, no question.
Another thought: The Silver Age GL never really had a great rogues gallery did he? This lead to Sinestro being way over used. But other GL foes like Shark, The Black Hand, Doctor Polaris, Sonar and especially the (UGH) Tattooed Man were really lame. Especially when compared to the Flash villains.
While it sounds counter-intuitive, I've always thought that the Green Lantern Corps is what made Green Lantern unique (and yes, I'm a big fan of Alan Scott, but let's face it, he's not that different from Starman), but that said, both the Corps and the Guardians have been over-used (and misused) over the years--the Guardians work just fine as a disembodied voice from the Power Battery, sending GL on non-Earth missions in his sector, and while I can see one GL calling in one other in an emergency, bringing in any more than that should be an event, and not just, oh, it's Tuesday, here's a couple dozen Green Lanterns. As for which Green Lantern of Earth is "definitive", that's a toughie--imho, each of them is damaged, and not in a way that provides interesting story points: Hal has become a whiner and a quitter, Guy Gardner isn't just bad tempered, he's literally brain damaged, John Stewart (in the comics) never really recovered from that whole stupidly destroying a planet thing, and while Kyle managed to improve over the years, I could never really get past his first impression, as an idiot who had never even heard of Green Lantern until he got a power ring. If it was up to me, for a movie (or a reboot of the comic), I'd probably go with a composite version: John Stewart (the best known GL thanks to the JLU cartoon) would be Earth's Green Lantern, but instead of being an architect, he'd be an aerospace engineer working for Ferris Aircraft (Hal had the best supporting cast), and he'd be a sci-fi/fantasy buff given to the kind of over-designed ring-constructs that Kyle used.