Page 1 of 5
On July 11, 2009, it was announced that actor Ryan Reynolds, who is now starring opposite Sandra Bullock in the film The Proposal, would become the latest actor to headline a comic book superhero movie franchise. Set for release on June 17, 2011 is a $150 million epic based on the long-running comic book character, Green Lantern. This film will be distributed by Warner Bros. and will be written by Greg Berlanti, Mark Guggenheim, and Michael Green. Martin Campbell (GoldenEye, Casino Royale) is currently slated to direct.
Don't be embarassed if you've never heard of Green Lantern because, outside of comic books, the character has made scant few appearances in other media. So, just who is "Green Lantern," anyway? With the kind of cash that Warners is laying on the line, it's a sure bet that they hope a lot of people care. To help you out, what follows is a brief overview of the character who has enjoyed a 50 year career in comics.
Since DC Comics began publishing superheroes with the advent of Superman in 1938, five of its characters have always enjoyed consistent popularity and relatively higher sales than their comic book counterparts. These characters, Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Flash, and Green Lantern, have consistently been DC's biggest guns.
The character of Green Lantern was originally created by artist Martin Nodell and writer Bill Finger (co-creator of Batman), and first appeared in 1940's All-American Comics #16. Green Lantern was in reality Alan Scott, a railroad engineer, who discovered a magic lantern which radiated a powerful green-flame energy from within. This green energy, apparantly sentient, instructs Scott on how to fashion a ring from a piece of the lantern's metal. Touching the ring to the lantern transfers some of its green energy to the ring and allows Scott to perform many seemingly magical feats such as fly, walk through walls, and project green beams of energy from the ring itself which could also be fashioned into solid objects with which to attack his enemies or shield himself from harm. The ring's energy, however, was powerless against objects made of wood.
Alan Scott's adventures as Green Lantern continued throughout the 1940s, but as superheroes experienced a gradual decline in popularity following World War II, his comic book adventures eventually came to an end around 1949. For a few years following, he continued to make appearances as part of a team of DC's superheroes called the Justice Society of America.
By 1956, DC Comics decided to try a superhero revival. Its top three characters, Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman, had managed to remain in continuous publication throughout the 1950s in spite of the decreased demand for superhero material. Therefore, DC brought back its number four guy, The Flash. Four tryout issues featuring the Flash were released over a two-year period and proved popular enough that DC felt comfortable to go back to the well to revive their next former star, Green Lantern, in the pages of Showcase #22, published in mid-1959.
However, just as the Flash revival featured a new character under the mask, so too did Green Lantern's revival feature a new Emerald Crusader. Gone was Alan Scott, and in his place was dashing test pilot, Hal Jordan. It is this character that Ryan Reynolds will portray in the forthcoming movie.
For this new take on the Green Lantern concept, comics editor Julius Schwartz assigned writer John Broome and artist Gil Kane to come up with a more science fiction based background than the previous quasi-mystical take of the 1940s. Hal Jordan was given his so-called "power ring" and lantern-shaped "power battery" by an alien named Abin Sur, who was a member of an intergalactic police force known as the Green Lantern Corps. Thousands of Green Lanterns are assigned the task of patrolling and protecting all of creation from whatever threats may arise by the Guardians of the Universe, enigmatic alien beings who live on the planet Oa, which exists at the very center of the cosmos.
Unlike Alan Scott's ring that was impervious to all but objects made of wood, Hal Jordan's ring was powerless against anything that was colored yellow. Beyond that, however, the ring could basically do whatever the wearer commanded it to through sheer force of willpower. As long as the ring was recharged once every 24 hours by touching the ring to the battery, Hal Jordan's wish was the ring's command. Over time, Hal Jordan, protector of space sector 2814 (which includes our Earth), proved to be the greatest of all the members of the Green Lantern Corps.
As far as the comic itself was concerned, the Green Lantern title proved to be an immediate hit and remained popular throughout the 1960s. However, by 1970 a change was in order. Comics had grown up a bit during the tumultuous 60s -- especially with the rise of DC's publishing rival, Marvel Comics. Fans were looking for comics that were a little more weighty in terms of story content, and the so-called "relevance era" of comics began with stories that were often built around the social issues of the day. This took place in comics around the same time that television was changing to incorporate more topical issues into its content as well. A famous issue of Green Lantern published during this period detailed the drug addiction of Speedy, the youthful sidekick to a superhero named Green Arrow, who was added to Green Lantern's comic in order to enable the more relevant storylines and boost sales. In spite of the excellence of these stories, sales on the Green Lantern title continued to dwindle until the series was canceled in 1972. It didn't stay gone for long, however. Fan support led to a revival of the title in 1976, and a Green Lantern series has been published, in one form or another, (almost) ever since.
Now, let's take a look at some of the major characters impacting the life of Hal Jordan -- many of which will appear in the feature film.