Revived, rejuvenated Green Lantern heads for the big screen

By Andrew A. Smith

Scripps Howard News Service

Green Lantern, who gets his first big-budget movie June 17, was my favorite DC Comics superhero as a child. Given the loving care lavished on the character in recent years, he’s my favorite once again.


Hal Jordan was introduced in1959, at the beginning of the space age. He was allegedly based on Chuck Yeager, the legendary test pilot, and everything about him was sleek, cool and hip. He had essentially Aladdin’s lamp on his finger, which could do anything he imagined (except affect things colored yellow) – which was really appealing to youngsters like me, who could imagine quite a lot (especially numerous ways to get around that yellow thing). He was chosen by the Green Lantern Corps for being born without fear, had a really cool job (test pilot) and dated his boss, Carol Ferris.


This guy was just a stud. I may have felt like Peter Parker when I was growing up, but it was Hal Jordan I wanted to grow up to be.


And Green Lantern just got bigger and cooler with every issue. Gradually we learned more about the other alien Green Lanterns, and the little blue immortals in the red dresses who ran the show, the Guardians of Oa. We learned there were 3,600 Green Lanterns in all, each patrolling a wedge-shaped (but potentially infinite) sector of space radiating from Oa, which was in the center of the universe. Two more “back-up” Lanterns from Earth were introduced, one an African-American architect named John Stewart, who was featured in the Justice League cartoon.


Eventually we learned that there had been another Green Lantern back in the 1940s, who bore no relation to the current one except the name. That character was invented in 1940, when creator Martin Nodell was taking a commuter train, and noticed that red lanterns meant “danger” while green lanterns meant “everything’s safe.” Everything’s safe? Bingo! And so a hero was born, who had a green ring that was literally magic. Naturally, Hal Jordan got to team up with his older namesake now and then (who is still around, and still not related to the Green Lantern Corps).


But something happened to the Emerald Warrior. Like in the 1940s, the new guy’s popularity fell off. Maybe he was simply too powerful to plausibly challenge, or there were so many Lanterns he stopped being unique. Maybe his life was too good to be interesting. Maybe that “yellow weakness” was too ridiculous, or aging fans began to realize that being “born without fear” makes you a psychopath, or a short-lived idiot. Regardless, Green Lantern was canceled in 1972, and made fitful restarts over the next few decades. DC tried everything to make the title interesting, like breaking up Hal and Carol (repeatedly). They even turned Jordan into an actual psychopath in 1994, one who murdered a bunch of fellow Lanterns, and replaced him with a young slacker as “the last Green Lantern.”


Fortunately, none of that lasted. A young writer named Geoff Johns – now the Chief Creative Officer at DC – virtually rebuilt the franchise. He managed to explain away that old, stupid yellow weakness and Jordan’s trip on the crazy train by blaming an entity called Parallax, who embodies fear and powers yellow rings. He also invented an entity called Ion who embodies will and powers the green, and then blue, orange, purple, red and violet entities that power five more corps of ring-bearers, all of which together comprise not just the rainbow, but the “emotional spectrum” as well. Johns re-wrote “born without fear” into something more heroic: the “ability to overcome great fear.” He also introduced the creepy idea that rings fly off to find new hosts when their bearer dies – but that also means that it wasn’t the dying Green Lantern of Sector 2814 that chose Hal Jordan: It was the ring itself.


All of this is will be fun to know if you plan to see Green Lantern. The movie’s Big Bad is Parallax, a relatively new creation, along with the huge-headed Hector Hammond, a character from the 1960s (that Johns made nastier). You’ll see a mix of Green Lanterns old and new, from the first one Jordan met, Tomar-Re, to his drill sergeant, Kilowog, to the Green Lantern who went rogue, Sinestro.


And you’ll know that Hal Jordan, played by Ryan Reynolds, deserves his ring – because it will choose him. And after seeing the movie, maybe you’ll want to grow up to be Hal Jordan, too.


1. RYAN REYNOLDS as Green Lantern in Warner Bros. Pictures' action adventure "GREEN LANTERN," a Warner Bros. Pictures release. Photo courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures. ™ & © DC Comics

2. BLAKE LIVELY as Carol Ferris in Warner Bros. Pictures' action adventure "GREEN LANTERN," a Warner Bros. Pictures release. Photo by François Duhamel. ™ & © DC Comics

3. MARK STRONG as Sinestro in Warner Bros. Pictures' action adventure "GREEN LANTERN," a Warner Bros. Pictures release. Photo courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures. ™ & © DC Comics

4. (L-r) Kilowog, voiced by MICHAEL CLARKE DUNCAN, and Tomar-Re, voiced by GEOFFREY RUSH, in Warner Bros. Pictures' action adventure "GREEN LANTERN," a Warner Bros. Pictures release. Photo courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures. ™ & © DC Comics


Contact Andrew A. Smith of the Memphis Commercial Appeal at

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Comment by Captain Comics on June 24, 2011 at 12:54am
I wonder why the bullet-list format makes the point size jump up so big. ... Or maybe I'm the only one seeing that!
Comment by Emerkeith Davyjack on June 23, 2011 at 10:29pm

...Thank you !

  Were the five prequels released over a course of five weeks ???

  Kind of odd there shouldn't be an adaptation , then , but , then again , direct adaptation comics are rather technologically/the speed-instantness of mass BVig Tentpole , certainly , releases outmoded-by , they're really more soveniers than great comics reading experiences , and certainly tend to be rather rushed/sybolically , if not literally , at the back of the store...

Comment by Captain Comics on June 23, 2011 at 11:45am

Alan Scott's origin has been updated, although I don't remember where or when. The current idea is that the magic meteor that his ring and lantern were carved from was actually a prison for all the evil chaos magic in the universe, which had been gathered into a bundle and sent careening around the universe a very long time ago by the Guardians of Oa.* In a more recent issue, due to reasons I no longer remember**, Scott was forced to absorb all that chaos magic directly into himself -- making himself a living battery -- and really no longer needs a ring, but wears one for focus and for nostalgia. The downside is that he must always be combating that evil energy internally, so his focus is always split and he's not as powerful as he used to be. AFAIK only two collections of the original Emerald Warrior have been released: Golden Age Green Lantern Archives Vols 1-2, with the GL stories from All-American Comics #16-38 and Green Lantern #1-3. Alan Scott also appeared in the bulk of the original Justice Society run, which is collected in it's entirety in Archives format, and he has some stories in stuff like the DC Rarities Archives.


* Have the Guardians of Oa ever made a good decision? "Let's put all this stuff we're afraid together in one huge package and then send it flying around the universe randomly for someone to grab and use against us!" My God, 3-year-olds have better logic skills.


** Probably because the reasons were really, really stupid. If the Guardians were involved, it would probably be ranked in the Stupidity Olympics.


As to Hal Jordan:


  • The Green Lantern Chronicles series is up to Vol. 4, which carries you through Green Lantern (second series) #14.
  • The second volume of Green Lantern Omnibus will be out in November, carrying you through Green Lantern (second series) #45.
  • Green Lantern Archives is up to Vol. 6, which carries you through Green Lantern (second series) #47.
  • Showcase Presents: Green Lantern is up to vol. 5, through Green Lantern (second series) #100. Hal Jordan's first series was canceled with issue #89 (ending the Neal Adams and Denny O'Neil run), but was re-launched a few years later with the same numbering and a different creative team (Mike Grell on pencils, but I don't remember who wrote it).
  • There are plenty of Green Lantern TPBs out there, most of them collecting the three current series (Green Lantern, Green Lantern: Emerald Warriors, Green Lantern Corps), plus other Johns material like Green Lantern: Secret Origin, Green Lantern: Rebirth and the Blackest Night/Brightest Day material.
  • There are five movie prequel books, one each starring Abin Sur, Hal Jordan, Kilowog, Sinestro and Tomar-Re. They'll be collected in TPB in October.

Hope that helps!




Comment by Emerkeith Davyjack on June 22, 2011 at 10:28pm

...I bought the Abin Sur comic-book movie prequel , passing up the kilowog and Sinestro?? ones .

  As with Thor , Captain , could you please list how many GL releases there've been in recent times - How many official movie-universe ones there've been...And how many Chronicles paperbacks of the Hal Jordan years there've been , if there've been any Alan Scott ones and if my memory that someone at DC was doing or did a " new , official " version of Alan Scott's origin ???????

Comment by Captain Comics on June 21, 2011 at 1:37pm

My wife and I ended up going to a baseball game Sunday night instead of Green Lantern. No, I'm not reacting to the critics. My wife and I don't get much time together due to my work schedule, and the option of using that time sitting in a dark theater not talking to each other is never high on the priority list. For the record, I didn't see the second Hulk or Iron Man 2 until a guy at work loaned me the DVDs.


Don't judge me! *sob!* (We'll see it later this week.)

Comment by George on June 21, 2011 at 2:23am,8599,2078577,00.html


Looks like audiences are suffering from superhero origin fatigue. Three such movies in seven weeks was apparently too many. And we haven't even gotten to Capt. America yet.


I've read that "Green Lantern" was actually seen by fewer people last weekend than saw "Daredevil" and "Ghost Rider" in their first weekends. Ticket prices keep going up, and a $50-million-plus gross doesn't necessarily mean people were storming the box office to see it.


The good news: I won't have to stand in a long line when I see it today!

Comment by Jason Marconnet (Pint sized mod) on June 19, 2011 at 9:33pm
Saw the film in 2D and really enjoyed it. Not sure what all the hate for this movie is coming from with the critics. It's not a perfect film or even the best superhero film. It's an entertaining film though. It's a light, fun, superhero movie. Nothing heavy or really dark about it. Maybe that's why no one liked it.
Comment by ClarkKent_DC on June 19, 2011 at 7:48pm
I saw Thor in Imax 3D and saw Green Lantern last night in 3D. It was definitely worth it for Thor and, yeah, I guess it was for Green Lantern. But really, I felt that after the first 10 minutes or so, you don't notice the difference unless you take the 3D glasses off.
Comment by George on June 18, 2011 at 3:08pm
I saw "Thor" in 2-D, and it worked fine for me. I'll again be saving a few bucks and seeing "GL" in 2-D.
Comment by Captain Comics on June 18, 2011 at 3:00pm

I've read that Warner Bros. made a deliberate decision to make Green Lantern a family-friendly movie, and the PG-13 rating  was pro forma. (It was designed to be PG, but they avoided that rating as the kiss of death it is for adolescents by adding a few hells and damns.) I'm fine with that, but that same decision didn't work out very well for the Fantastic Four movies. A lot of critics simply don't like movies that aren't dark, dark, dark.


And I have read quite a few positive reviews; some critics seem to "get" it and some think it's stupid. Mark Millar tweeted that it the worst superhero movie he'd ever seen (what, he missed Batman & Robin?), but then said he'd be seeing it again soon. I'll see the movie tomorrow (Sunday, June 19), so I'll find out for myself.


As to 3D, I'm hoping this is the year that this particular fad dies ... again.



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