Analysis: Why Green Lantern can still recover and become the multi-movie franchise we deserve

Rookie Green Lantern Jessica Cruz (left) and Simon Baz are two Green Lanterns who could appear in future “Green Lantern Corps” movies from Warner Bros.-DC Entertainment.  Courtesy of DC Entertainment

The Green Lantern Corps might be the last group you’d expect to rescue Warner Bros./DC Entertainment’s sometimes-polarizing attempts to build a connected live-action movie universe. But with David S. Goyer (“The Dark Knight” trilogy, “Man of Steel”) and Justin Rhodes now set to write “Green Lantern Corps,” as confirmed by the Hollywood Reporter’s Heat Vision blog, WB/DC is signaling its realization that the Green Lantern comics still hold vast storytelling potential.

Now, it’s been six years since “Green Lantern” derailed DC’s schedule for building a connected movie universe. Although DC has superheroes every bit as recognized as Marvel’s most iconic crime-fighters, “Green Lantern” (with Ryan Reynolds donning the title costume) was such a bomb that it sparked doubts that DC would ever be able to match Marvel’s cinematic universe.

So how can “Green Lantern Corps” become everything that “Green Lantern” wasn’t? First, it comes down to personnel. Geoff Johns’s new role as president of DC Entertainment is a start. Johns was involved with the production of “Green Lantern,” but he lacked the power that his current position brings.

Johns recently posted a tweet that hinted at his eagerness to fire up the Green Lantern again:

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“In Brightest Day, In Blackest Night…”

Johns has written some of the most critically acclaimed Green Lantern books of the past decade. After our hero Hal Jordan became a villain, Johns returned him to green glory.

Plus, Johns’s “Blackest Night” and “Brightest Day” storylines introduced the idea of a spectrum of emotions – each one having a respective power ring similar to the rings worn by the Green Lanterns. (Whereas Green Lantern rings — considered the most powerful weapon in the DC universe – can create anything via a green energy fueled by willpower, rings of other colors are powered by different emotions, such as the red of rage, the orange of avarice and the violet of love. Because each ring has a devoted corps, DC has a multicolored multitude of potential ring wielders for its Green Lantern movies.)

Johns’s Brightest Day/Blackest Night tweet could also hint at potential plots for a “Green Lantern Corps” film. He is the ideal person to guide Goyer and Rhodes toward comics source material that not only can best be adapted, but that also could please hardcore fans still disappointed by Green Lantern’s first movie foray.

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The confirmed appearance in “Green Lantern Corps” of Green Lantern John Stewart – perhaps DC Comics’s highest-profile black superhero – should buoy the movie, especially considering how many fans are familiar with the character through Cartoon Network’s “Justice League” animated series.

Recent Emmy Award winner Sterling K. Brown (“The People vs. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story”) has a role in Marvel’s highly anticipated “Black Panther.” The “This Is Us” actor recently tweeted that he would like to be considered a candidate to play John Stewart:

Dear powers that be, if you are looking for someone to play John Stewart, I humbly submit my name. Namaste #GreenLanternCorps

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Stewart’s cinematic introduction could also pave the way for more of Earth’s Green Lanterns to appear in future “Green Lantern Corps” movies – including Guy Gardner, Kyle Rayner, Jessica Cruz and Simon Baz.

Perhaps the biggest shame of the 2011 film’s failure was that two apt actors were wasted.

Ryan Reynolds – who has since moved so winningly on to “Deadpool” – had everything fans could want from Hal Jordan: looks, wit, protein shake-fueled triceps – and a deep desire to make a good superhero movie. And an even bigger loss was that of Mark Strong’s performance as Sinestro, the rogue Green Lantern turned foe. His Sinestro was “Green Lantern’s” lone highlight. The absence of Strong’s Sinestro in “Green Lantern Corps” would seem like a massively missed opportunity. (We have to presume, of course, that Reynolds and Strong won’t return.)

Fortunately, there are plenty of great comic books for Johns, Goyer and Rhodes to construct a great cinematic story from. And with that creative corps in place, the potential for a sharp, high-energy film is high.