A Green Lantern Primer
We’re back in the second of our continuing “for dummies” articles. The Green Lantern, starring Ryan Reynolds, looms ever closer to the the big screen and there are plenty of people out there who’ve probably never picked up a comic-book and are wondering “just who is this jade colored super hero with a glowing fist? Where did he come from? Why should I care?” This summer’s movie is an origin story, so most of the questions, at least canonically, will be answered, but there’s quite a bit more to GL’s story.
As before, I need to mention, I’m no comic-book geek. At best, I’m a cartoon geek and GL has had his share of toons. That said, I do like to soak up a lot of useless information, so I’ve done some homework, scoured the net and now present you with the following:
The very first Green Lantern was published back before DC Comics ever existed by All-American Comics, that would eventually merge with 2 others to become DC. The title character was a railroad engineer named Alan Scott, created by Martin Nodell (artist) and Bill Finger (writer). Scott discovers a magic lantern (keep in mind, these lanterns were used as signals for train engineers in their hey day) after a crash that talks to him, promising powers. Scott created a ring to focus the powers he’d been given that had to be charged once a day by touching the lantern. And off he went, righting wrongs, doing daring dos and the like. This isn’t the origin we’ll be seeing in 2011 film.
See, in comic lore, The Green Lantern really isn’t a single individual. Instead, the Green Lantern Corps is a group made up of hundreds of intergalactic peace keepers that each possess a green power ring and are called upon to save their respective regions of space, a galaxy here and there and occasionally, the universe from evil. The corps are led by a group of blue skinned, super intelligent and immortal Guardians that reside in the center of the universe on a planet called Oa (oh-wha). For the Star Wars initiates, these are The Jedi Council to your Jedi Knights. Star Trek fans, these are the Federation Council to your United Federation of Planets.
The Earth has seen 5 Green Lanterns. Each of them, like all the others in the corps, must recite an oath in order to charge their rings. Originally written short and sweet, the oath was re-written to be more poetic (although its actual history is debated) as this:
In brightest day, in blackest night,
No evil shall escape my sight
Let those who worship evil’s might,
Beware my power… Green Lantern’s light!
Alan Scott, Hal Jordan, John Stewart, Guy Gardner and Kyle Rayner (and in a hysterical twist, Duck Dodgers [a.k.a. Daffy Duck]) all enjoyed some pretty awe-inspiring power from their rings. Primarily, the ring has the ability to create ‘constructs’ made of solid green energy limited only by the wearer’s imagination. Human constructs range from giant fists to jet fighters and everything in between. Lanterns can create force fields to protect themselves and others from a myriad of attacks, turn themselves invisible and fly. Time travel and teleportation has been touched upon a time or two as well as a power to heal wounds or perform surgery. Only two weaknesses exist for our heroes: their own strength of will and..wait for it… the color yellow. There IS an explanation as to why these intergalactic heroes can be defeated by a less-than-vicious banana, but it’s not going to make your eyes roll any less.
For the most part, the Earth’s Lantern (predominantly Hal Jordan) has always been plagued by his arch-nemesis, Sinestro. Sinestro was member of the Lantern Corps and in fact, was Jordan’s mentor after being given the ring. He was considered one of their strongest warriors, but he was overly harsh (think REALLY bad cop) and was banished from the Corps, and from this universe only to return with a yellow ring of equal power to create his own corps and turn to villainy. I can almost guarantee that this summer’s movie will not see Mark Strong’s Sinestro as the villain of the picture, but I can likewise guarantee a prologue that acts as a lead-in to a sequel that follows that plot line. A character named Paralax, or rather an entity, has been mentioned in the official synopsis, which actually goes against accepted canon. Hal Jordan, the cocky test pilot for the new movie, became Paralax in the comic series to help boost sales and pull in fresh readers.
So there you have your basic run-down. Hopefully that clears a few things up before going into the theatre this summer. My expectations remain rather low for this film, despite my love of the character and for the inevitable Justice League movie (Hal Jordan is a found member of the super hero team). Still, I’m curious to see how Reynolds handles the role and hope it isn’t just a thick coating of special effects over a paper thin layer of story and acting.