Comics on Film: What Green Lantern Brings to the Justice League

Comics on Film: What Green Lantern Brings to the Justice League

Sep 15, 2017

 
We're now just over two months away from the theatrical arrival of Justice League, Warner Bros.' potentially most ambitious DC Comics-based film ever attempted. Uniting Batman, Wonder Woman, the Flash, Aquaman, and Cyborg (and Superman), the heaviest hitters in modern DC Comics lore are all hitting the big screen to take it to the forces of Steppenwolf and his underlings from Apokolips...
 
...except one.
 
Since 2011, the wider popular culture relationship that audiences have had with Green Lantern has been tenuous, since the movie which arrived that year failed to make a significant impression with both fans and critics alike. While the brunt of the blame for that likely goes to the overall tepidness of the film's story when compared with the demonstrable capability that Green Lantern stories have always exhibited in the comics, Warner Bros. has been hinting for the last couple of years that the book on the Green Lantern section of the DC Comics IP isn't exactly closed in the eyes of the studio.
 
Still, though, as a primary founding member of the Justice League in multiple continuities of the comics, his absence is more than a little significant for fans who've been following the Justice League in either comics or animation for any semblance of time. So...what, exactly, does a human Green Lantern Corps member bring to the team, in either the comics or the DC Extended Universe?
 
 
One Word: Will
 
 
 
In both the League's original first appearance in Brave and the Bold #28 in March 1960 and in DC Comics' relaunched universe in the New 52's Justice League series, Hal Jordan served as a founding member of DC's premiere superhero team. The first member of the intergalactic law enforcers of the Green Lantern Corps to hail from Earth, Jordan had begun operating in his home sector of the universe, number 2814, shortly before the defining threats that caused the Justice League to first come together in both continuities.
 
Often described in the source material as "the most powerful weapon in the universe," the Green Lantern ring is powered by the emotional energy of willpower, which appears in the flat center of the "emotional spectrum:" the anchor at the core of other emotional powers found from the red fires of burning rage, to the powerful devotion of violet love. Channeling your will into the power of the ring manifests physical constructs limited only by the bearer's imagination, so a particularly willful individual who can think on their feet can become virtually unstoppable in battle.
 
After a mortally wounded alien Green Lantern had mistakenly crash-landed on Earth, the ring chose Jordan as its next bearer because of his ability to overcome great fear, an ability he's had since his childhood, when he watched his test pilot father die in a plane crash. Jordan would characterize that life-defining moment in the graphic novel Green Lantern: Secret Origin by saying, "When your greatest fear comes to life before your eyes, there's nothing left to be afraid of."
 
 
The legacy of the Green Lantern Corps on Earth would only continue to grow more pronounced, as the DC Comics Universe has seen other human ringslingers like Guy Gardner, John Stewart, Kyle Rayner, Jessica Cruz, and Simon Baz all take up the cause of the Corps to help protect the Earth from all kinds of threats, from homegrown supercriminals to alien despots, and everything in-between.
 
Even though some of the specific human Lanterns may not have been a part of the Justice League at all times, the League as a whole definitely feels like it's missing something if they don't have at least one Corspman in their ranks. The reasoning is clear: by having a member (or members) of the universe's prime law enforcers in their ranks, the Justice League sends a message to everyone on Earth and elsewhere that they're equipped to protect Earth's inhabitants from any threat, and having a Green Lantern in the ranks helps legitimize that message to the rest of the universe.
 
An alien criminal may not have heard of Batman or Wonder Woman, but when they see that Lantern, they know exactly what they're dealing with.
 
 
In the DCEU: "No Lanterns. No Kryptonian. This World Will Fall."
 
 
 
Over the course of the released films that constitute the DC Extended Universe thus far, any reference or hint at the existence of the Green Lantern Corps has been conspicuously absent. We didn't see any Lanterns dispatched to Krypton after the planet exploded, there was no hint that they were aware of Kryptonian survivors wrecking the Earth before Superman made himself public, and even the brief communication between Lex Luthor and Steppenwolf in the closing moments of Dawn of Justice's Ultimate Edition didn't seem to register on the Corps' radar.
 
The first overt mention of the Green Lantern Corps in the DCEU came back in July, when Warner Bros. released a more substantive look at this November's Justice League film simultaneously at Comic-Con and on the internet. In a voiceover monologue presumably from the film's villain, Steppenwolf, the Apokoliptian disciple of Darkseid spoke about the relative ease of conquering Earth because of two primary absences: "No Lanterns" and "no Kryptonian."
 
 
Presuming that we have yet to see the first human member of the Green Lantern Corps, the revelation of no Lanterns being present on Earth isn't particularly surprising. Earth is, after all, only one inhabited planet in the vastness of even its own sector, and the Corps itself has a lot of duties and obligations that extend beyond the planet. I don't think it means, as some other commentators have stated, that the Green Lantern Corps isn't active in the DCEU. If anything can get the Corps' attention, it's likely the incursion onto Earth by forces from Apokolips that awaits us this November.
 
Of course, there's no way of knowing whether or not the final Justice League film will have a Lantern-shaped surprise for us in some fashion, but it would definitely be a treat if that were the case. No allusions to the Corps or a specific character could mean that either a human Green Lantern's story hasn't begun yet, or that it has...and we just haven't seen it yet.
 
What would you like to see? Which Green Lantern do you want to see standing beside the fully assembled Justice League in the DCEU? Be sure to sound off below, and we'll see you for a new Comics on Film next week...in brightest day, or in blackest night.

Chris Clow is a comic book expert and former retailer, and a writer with work having appeared in the Huffington Post, Fandango and others. He also hosts the podcasts GeekPulse Radio and Comics on Consoles. You can find his weekly Comics on Film column every week here at Movies.com, and you can follow along on Twitter @ChrisClow.

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