The absence of DC superhero Green Lantern from the live-action screen is finally over. DC Studios’ new co-CEO, James Gunn, has plans to give the character a big comeback with the HBO series Lanterns.The love and support for HBO shows like the fantasy drama Game of Thrones and the post-apocalyptic drama The Last of Us span far beyond fans of the original published books and video games. Their popularity is evidence of the success an HBO Green Lantern collaboration can achieve for the Emerald Knights.
The Green Lantern first appeared in comic books in 1940, with a 1959 reinvention of the hero becoming a founding member of the Justice League. This version, a U.S. pilot named Hal Jordan, is the most well-known iteration of Green Lantern. However, after 50 years of comic mythology, the lack of a successful live-action adaptation has diminished the superhero’s public favor. The exposure of a Sunday night HBO Green Lantern series can mean an exponential growth in admiration for the intergalactic police force.
Ryan Reynolds and Green Lantern in the Snyderverse
Green Lantern, starring Ryan Reynolds, had shockingly low reviews given that the director is responsible for successfully rebooting James Bond twice. Martin Campbell directed Goldeneye, Casino Royale and one of the best superhero origin stories, The Mask of Zorro. However, Green Lantern barely broke even at the box office in 2011. Warner Bros. abandoned a sequel to start the DC Extended Universe with Man of Steel,directed by Zack Snyder. It was proceeded by Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice.Two entries into the DCEU and Warner Bros. lined up a Justice League movie.
The promotion for 2017’s Justice League involved a Jason Momoa Aquaman poster with the slogan “Unite the Seven.” With five members already in BvS: DoJ, “Unite the Seven” led to speculation that Justice League would feature a Green Lantern. The tragedy and drama connectedto the movie further delayed Green Lantern’s DCEU introduction. After Zack Snyder’s Justice League premiered on HBO Max in 2021, a deleted scene revealed John Stewart’s Green Lantern, played by Wayne T. Carr. The studio likely cut the character from the Snyderverse to reserve him for the now-dead Greg Berlanti Green Lantern Corps. Ultimately, “Unite the Seven” only referred to the King of the Seven Seas.
James Gunn’s Green Lantern Corps in the DCU
James Gunn and Peter Safran are now the co-CEOs of DC Studios, with Gunn in charge of the creative and Safran overlooking the business aspects. In late 2022, Gunn announced the first slate of the new DCU, part of “Chapter One: Gods and Monsters.” With the desire to bring the DC universe together across movies, TV, animation and gaming, Gunn laid out plans including a Green Lantern series called Lanterns. There is no release date yet, and due to the ongoing WGA and SAG-AFTRA strike in Hollywood, it’s unlikely to come any time soon.
Before the work stoppage, Gunn unveiled part of the cast of the first live-action DCU movie made under the new leadership. Superman: Legacy will star David Corenswet and Rachel Brosnahan as Superman and Lois Lane, respectively, as well as long-time Gunn collaborator and friend Nathan Fillion as the Green Lantern Guy Gardner. Gunn recently confirmed that Fillion will portray Guy in all appearances, including animation and TV, adding the possibility of a role in Lanterns. Only major fans will likely remember Guy’s live-action debut in the famously bad, unaired CBS Justice League of America pilot starring Mathew Settle as a Green Lantern who acts like Hal Jordan and looks like Kyle Rayner but is named Guy Gardner.
A True Detective Comics Green Lantern Mystery
Expressed as a big HBO event series, DC co-CEOs also described Lanterns in the same vein as True Detective. The story will focus on Green Lanterns Hal Jordan and John Stewart, who come to Earth to investigate a mystery that will introduce the overarching plot of “Chapter One: Gods and Monsters.” With the Green Lantern Corps as an intergalactic police force and DC being short for Detective Comics, the detective-story approach to Green Lantern is a notable creative choice. A common ingredient of detective fiction involves an older veteran partnered with a younger rookie. Lanterns can incorporate this element by having a veteran Green Lantern, Hal Jordan, partnering with a rookie, John Stewart. The Seven-inspired Matt Reeves movie, The Batman, also included this feature with 57-year-old Jeffrey Wright partnering with 37-year-old Robert Pattinson.
The likelihood of actors from Lanterns reappearing in subsequent movies and HBO series makes the prospective casting range from movie stars to the HBO tree of character actors. Two actors who fit the role and description of Hal Jordan and John Stewart are 52-year-old Michael C. Hall (Six Feet Under) and 29-year-old Stephan James (If Beale Street Could Talk). The actors’ ages serve well with Jordan’s backup, Guy Gardner, and Stewart’s friend, Superman, played by the previously mentioned 52-year-old Fillion and 30-year-old Corenswet. Michael C. Hall as Hal Jordan could portray the actor in a different light than usual. However, fans of the comics (and Dexter) will recognize the potential of evil within Hal Jordan (and Michael C. Hall).
Before Lanterns premieres on HBO, James Gunn’s DCU will deliver two series and one movie. That includes the animated Creature Commandos and the live-action Waller starring Viola Davis and members of Team Peacemaker. For the big screen, Gunn will direct Superman: Legacy, set to premiere on July 11, 2025, from a script he wrote. Lanterns comes out nextand builds upon the foundations Nathan Fillion’s Guy Gardner will lay down in the Superman reboot.
An HBO-quality Green Lantern series will finally give some much-deserved respect to the superhero. Having the main storyline of “Chapter One: Gods and Monsters” start to unfold in Lanterns means the Green Lantern Corps will appear throughout the DCU. In a universe with heroes from multiple worlds, it only makes sense to have the Emerald Knights play a vital role. The importance of Green Lantern in Gunn’s DCU will emerge in Lanterns and hopefully echo the character’s relevance in pop culture.
A Sunday night HBO series has the chance to bring back the intergalactic peacekeepers in emerald energy fashion. Read More