Who’ll Wear The Ring?

Editorial – Why Hal Jordan is a better choice for the Justice League Movie

There’s been a lot of chatter recently on a number of people who’ve been in meetings with Warner Brothers regarding the Man Of Steel sequel, a film which looks more and more to be filmed back to back with a Justice League movie.  Recently Latino Review made headlines with Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson’s tweet  and speculating that he will be John Stewart in the film. Personally I find him to be a much better candidate for Cyborg if he will be on the heroes’ side and even better yet as Lobo or Black Adam if Warners were looking to cast some villains for the film.  Not too long ago actor Josh Holloway was rumored to be in discussions for a role in the film and everyone began to speculate that he’d be perfect for Aquaman, but an interesting footnote is that Holloway was actually artist Ethan Van Sciver’s inspiration for his redesign of Hal Jordan and could just as easily be considered to take over the role from the uninterested Ryan Reynolds.

Josh Holloway – EVS’ Hal

Fans have debated about which character should be in the Justice League movie and there are strong reasons why either Hal or John would make the better choice for the film.  It’s no secret to anyone that Hal’s my favorite Green Lantern, but my reasons for wanting to see him in the Green Lantern slot go beyond personal preference and into the long term vision that I think Warner Brothers needs to have with their DC Comics film strategy.  This is more about Warner Brothers paying homage to the rich history of the DC universe, leveraging all the work that’s been done to revitalize the Green Lantern franchise and paving the road for their future film universe.

Respecting the past

JLA’s 1960 debut
Comic book history and being true to the source material has always been of importance to comic book fans.  While movies take their fair share of liberties with the source material and anyone would be foolish to think that Warner Brothers would make a Justice League film without Superman and Batman, there is value in paying tribute to history.  Hal Jordan was a key member of the Justice League when it first formed in The Brave and the Bold #28 back in 1960 just as he was in the new 52 relaunch.  
I think comic book history owes a great deal to Barry Allen, Hal Jordan and the other characters who followed their successful Silver Age relaunches.  If not for Julius Schwartz’s foresight to re-envision these characters the superhero genre would likely not have survived the Seduction of the Innocent era war against comics and we wouldn’t have the rich tapestry we have today at DC, Marvel or anywhere else.  So if we’re going to do a movie we ought to be paying tribute to the actual characters responsible for it.  If we’re going to get the World’s Finest on film then we need the Brave and the Bold as well.

Media Presence and  Brand Identity

One of the main arguments for John Stewart to be in the movie is the Justice League and Justice League Unlimited cartoon series.  I loved them too, but the reality is that while the show was great and all it hasn’t led to John being considered by the public at large as the iconic Green Lantern.  Both John and Hal made minor appearances in Young Justice, but other than the aforementioned cartoons and a few toys Hal has been the poster boy for the character.  The Filmation cartoons, Superfriends, Green Lantern: The Animated Series and all the appearances in the DC direct to video animated features outweigh that considerably.
For all intents and purposes Hal Jordan is Green Lantern to the majority of the public.  When Target rolled out their partnership agreement with DC, it has been Jordan who has been the face of the character.  If and when Green Lantern gets referenced on a tv show like Lost, Grey’s Anatomy, The Big Bang Theory, Duck Dodgers or One Tree Hill it’s generally a nod to the Hal Jordan Green Lantern.  Big video game releases like Injustice: Gods Among Us and Mortal Kombat Vs. DC Universe also have promoted the Hal Jordan version of the character.  
We can’t talk about media recognition without talking about the live action film.  Love it, like it or hate it the movie made that version of Green Lantern more visible to the general public than anything before it.  There was merchandising galore for the film, not to mention amusement park rides which to this day promote the Hal Jordan version of Green Lantern to thousands of people, comic book fan or not.  
The amount of people reached by the film’s advertising campaign alone numbers in the millions.  If there was confusion from people who only knew Green Lantern from the Justice League cartoon when the movie came out, that number will be dwarfed by the number of people confused by changing it now.  And as much as people like to troll on about the Green Lantern movie – it really wasn’t that bad.  Even late movie critic Roger Ebert liked it better than Thor and ever-optimistic critic Leonard Maltin was far less critical of it than he was of the Asgardian’s debut.   If the movie failed then it failed not because of the character, but because of the studio’s execution of the property and the bashing that fans gave it.  
DC Comics and Warner Brothers have invested too much time and energy building Green Lantern into a recognizable brand to change gears based on one film’s performance.  A Justice League film allows them to salvage the misstep of the Green Lantern solo film and build on all the other work done thus far.  Jettison Ryan Reynolds if you must, but like the Hulk a simple recasting and great script can fix any lingering bad taste in the mouths of the public far better than throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

Team Chemistry and the future

Justice League: War demonstrates the need for Hal Jordan perhaps better than anything else.  While  I personally think the “new52” relaunch of the Justice League resulted in a version of Hal that was a bit too annoying territory, a modified version of Hal Jordan from that film is what a Justice League movie needs.  Hal is the wiseass, the button pusher and pot stirrer that is needed among a team that is just too solemn sometimes.  It’s not a role that Barry can fill and stay in character, and should Cyborg be among the cast (I hope) his journey would best play as a major subplot to the film to establish himself to the general public.  
The best team for a movie, imo.
Frankly, John Stewart would benefit more by having a major introduction than just being inserted into the Justice League movie.  In the grand scheme of things rebooting Hal Jordan in the Justice League before making a Sinestro Corps inspired Green Lantern Corps movie makes a great deal of sense.  There John can have a proper introduction and his recruitment into the  Corps and his character development can have some real room to shine.  He becomes Hal’s partner and now we are in universe building mode rather than treating the characters as interchangeable pieces that have no value.  Think of it like Lethal Weapon with power rings.
Hal Jordan needs to be for the Justice League movie what Tony Stark was for the Avengers just for the sake of the chemistry of the team.  John Stewart, if he’s going to be portrayed true to his character, is too close to Batman’s tactician persona and too close to Superman’s seriousness to provide the inter-character tension and humor needed.
The subject of who will wear the ring has created division among the Green Lantern fanbase in a way that we haven’t seen since Emerald Twilight.  While I know my opinion is not the same as everyone’s I’m a firm believer that the team that Geoff Johns chose for his new 52 relaunch represents the most well rounded and recognizable version of the Justice League and that’s the team we should be building towards with the films as well.  No disrespect to anyone’s preferences, but in my opinion Hal Jordan needs to be Green Lantern.

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About the author

Life long Green Lantern fan and co-host of the Podcast of Oa. I’m a Barbecue snob and aficionado of blues music. Hal Jordan is my co-pilot!

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