Addressing Arguments Against Using John Stewart as the Cinematic Green Lantern – Part 2

on October 30, 2014

Green Lantern JS!

This article is a continuation on an earlier article, titled, Addressing Arguments Against Using John Stewart as the Cinematic Green Lantern. I only addressed two arguments in that essay, and though they were some of the more regular points, there exist others that I’ve seen.

Let’s jump right in. The first argument this time is that “John Stewart doesn’t have any villains.”

This is, of course, not true. What is very interesting to me is that these arguments often come from people who profess to be knowledgeable about Green Lantern. I have reason to believe that many of them only really know the Geoff Johns run of Green Lantern, which is only a fraction of the mythology that, interestingly, more or less ignores John Stewart.

Green Lantern isn’t like most other superheroes, which is probably one of the reasons I find it the most interesting mythology. Green Lantern doesn’t need to be bound to a city, fighting the same villains over and over, like Batman, Superman, Spider-Man, and so on. Green Lantern is a cosmic defender, protecting an extremely broad and diverse universe from a wide variety of threats. In John Stewart’s adventures, he typically deals with entire hostile alien races, not a few people in a city sporting weird costumes. Though, he deals with the latter from time to time, too. A trip through John’s history will reveal such antagonists as the Horde from the “Mosaic” arc, the Manhunters, Thanagarians, and Despero and the Kalinorans from Justice League and Justice League Unlimited, and the Keepers, Third Army, Durlans, Khund, and Shadow Empire from the New 52 comic books. John Stewart has absolutely no shortage of adversaries to fight.

Indeed, when John Stewart is seen starring in comic books, he usually winds up fighting. If he has no one to fight, why is he always fighting in his stories? All enemies of the Green Lantern Corps, from the Spider Guild, the Manhunters, Durlans, Keepers, Sinestro, and so on, are, by default, enemies of Green Lantern John Stewart.

Speaking of Sinestro, a sub-argument of the above one is that “John Stewart has no connection to Sinestro and Star Sapphire. Therefore, by using John, two long time Green Lantern villains are lost.”

Actually, no they’re not, because we’ve seen both Sinestro and Star Sapphire done with John Stewart and without Hal Jordan in Justice League, Justice League Unlimited, and Static Shock. The explanations we are given about Sinestro in Static Shock and Justice League are very faithful to the comic books. Sinestro is an enemy of the Green Lantern Corps and hates all Green Lanterns. John Stewart helped take him down. Does this dishonor the comic books? Not at all. In comics, Sinestro is an enemy of the Corps and John has helped defeat him more than once.

Regarding Star Sapphire, both she and John Stewart have an extensive history together. Ferris Aircraft is not even lost if Hal Jordan is removed from the story, because John worked for Carol Ferris just like Hal Jordan did. In comics, John was an architect flown in from Detroit to California to help with the rebuilding of the Ferris Air grounds after the Demolition Team wrecked them. Star Sapphire killed John Stewart’s wife, Katma Tui, so she was actually John Stewart’s most hated enemy at a time. Speaking of Katma Tui, she was Sinestro’s direct successor, so there is a huge connection that could easily be exploited.

I think it’s really weird that some people act as though John Stewart has basically no connection to the Green Lantern mythology when he has been in the comics for over forty years. Some paint a picture to where it would seem John has spent that entire time locked in a dark closet.

Another argument I’ve seen is that “The Green Lantern mythology revolves around Hal Jordan. Thus, Green Lantern cannot be done without Hal Jordan.”

This, again, is not true at all, because we’ve seen Green Lantern done without Hal Jordan on Justice League and Justice League Unlimited, and it was wildly successful. Well, to be fair, Hal Jordan appeared with an extremely brief cameo that was explained away as being caused by a time paradox, which had no bearing on the plot, whatsoever. Hal Jordan, more or less, didn’t exist in that universe and that was the most successful thing that any incarnation of Green Lantern has EVER BEEN A PART OF. So, yes, Green Lantern can, and has, been done without Hal Jordan to great success. It’s been proven.

Remember, Green Lantern doesn’t work like most superheroes, so it is useless and incorrect to hold him to the same principles other heroes abide by. Green Lantern does not depend on any one character the way Batman, Spider-Man, and Superman do. The core of Green Lantern is the power ring, the Guardians of the Universe, and the Green Lantern Corps. As long as those concepts are present in some fashion, a Green Lantern story can easily be told. The different characters add different takes and perspectives to the mythology, but by no means is the entire mythology contingent on any one protagonist. I stress again that Green Lantern technically cannot entirely revolve around Hal Jordan, because we’ve seen Green Lantern done completely without him. There is a whole rich world there to be explored, which doesn’t at all rely on the Hal Jordan character.

Another argument is that “By not using Hal Jordan, you lose all his relationships.”

And to that, I say, “So what?”
I have personally never found Hal Jordan’s relationships with Tom Kalmaku, Carol Ferris, Green Arrow, Barry Allen, or whoever else especially riveting. Audiences got a taste of Hal Jordan’s relationships in the 2011 Green Lantern movie, and they failed to impress.

With John Stewart, there is potential to bring other relationships to the screen, such as his romance with Hawkgirl. Geek elitists will no doubt argue that the Green Lantern/Hawkgirl romance is not “Green Lantern,” but taken from the Justice League cartoon, which, by some bizarre twisted logic, invalidates the whole thing.

This is what those people need to understand:
NO ONE BUT THEM CARES ABOUT THAT SEMANTIC. Green Lantern and Hawkgirl’s romance is a famous, beloved story, even more so than Hal Jordan and Carol Ferris. Audiences don’t care that it didn’t originate from the comic books, or that it didn’t originate in something branded “Green Lantern.” Comic book nerds need to let go of this geeky elitism, because it serves absolutely no purpose other than to turn away potential fans from the hobby and to perpetuate the anal, basement dwelling image that comic book fans have.

The fact of the matter is that the Justice League and Justice League Unlimited cartoons have a much, much larger impact than any of Hal Jordan’s comics, and to continue to shun them out of misguided, misplaced elitism is the biggest, most unnecessary folly that can be committed regarding these issues. It’s because of that closed minded mindset that we wound up with the 200 million dollar flop that was the 2011 Green Lantern movie, which presented a familiar name to audiences, with an unfamiliar setting and unfamiliar character that they did not respond well to at all. There were many “regular people” who knew the name Green Lantern, but only intense comic book geeks had any knowledge or appreciation for the name “Hal Jordan.”

The reality of the situation is that no one cares about geeky Green Lantern history aside from hardcore Green Lantern fans, which is a relatively small group of people. No one cares that Hal Jordan came first, or about Carol Ferris. They don’t even know Kyle Rayner and Guy Gardner exist. When you tell this to these elitist fans, they act as though you are denigrating their religion, but it is actually just common sense and reality. Despite the success of Geoff Johns’ Green Lantern comics, the pool of comic book readers just isn’t all that big. In other words, Geoff Johns and Hal Jordan are big fish in really little ponds.

All these “regular people” care about is what they know and like, and where Green Lantern is concerned, for many people, that is the Justice League and Justice League Unlimited cartoons. Those cartoons have had a very far ranging impact that the comic books just can’t compete with, and they’re universally acclaimed and loved. The people at DC Comics and the elitist nerd fans need to just accept this reality instead of trying their darndest to deny it. I have a feeling that Warner Bros. realizes this truth, especially after the 200 million dollar disaster that was the 2011 Green Lantern film.

Hopefully this article will provide food for thought for readers, and also make things easier for John Stewart fans when confronted by stubborn and deluded fans of Hal Jordan.