Home Publishers DC Why I just don’t get Green Lantern

Why I just don’t get Green Lantern


As the film GREEN LANTERN opens nationwide, a segment of the population, mostly male, is wildly excited because their favorite superhero is finally getting a lavish and respectful big screen treatment. Yes, the reviews have been mixed, but under the watchful eye of Lantern’s flamekeeper Geoff Johns, the whole mythology has been faithfully brought to the screen in expansive CGI splendor.

For the Lantern fans out there—and there are many — this is a treat. But are they really a cult within a cult, as this Onion video suggests?

‘Green Lantern’ To Fulfill America’s Wish To See Lantern-Based Characters On Big Screen

I admit to being completely unable to answer this question myself; I’m completely immune to the Lantern’s power, and I find this highly puzzling.

Everyone’s life has gaps, memory holes that remain a mystery. In my case, one such example is learning to swim. One moment, I seem to recall, I was learning how to float as a tot. The next I’m a full grown adult standing on the beach and afraid of the water. Something must have happened…but what?

My immunity to Lantern love is a similar story. Let’s be honest here: I never met a gaudy, geeky subject I didn’t like. Star Wars, Star Trek, Xena Warrior Princess, Lost, wrestling, Conan, comic books, Bazooka Joe, Tolkien, Harry Potter…my nerd lore is well rounded and expansive. But even I have a few puzzling gaps in my education.

Always more of a Marvel reader, as a teen I tried to get into DC Comics, but never got far because a) at the time they were pretty damn dull, and b) I didn’t like Power Girl’s giant boobs. (True story.) Still, I understood all the basics: Superman came from a doomed planet; Batman had a traumatized childhood; Wonder Woman came from a race of Amazons to bring protection to Man’s World; The Legion were from the far future; The Flash had a lab accident; The Atom had a lab experiment…and so on. The one character that made no impression on me whatsoever was Green Lantern. This idea persisted even after reading a collection of the Denny O’Neil/Neal Adams GL/GA comics. It was very clear to me that Green Arrow was a wise-cracking hard-ass; Dinah was his sassy girlfriend and….some other guy was also in the book?

I don’t know the source of this lack of comprehension. Maybe because he had a ring and I liked THE LORD OF THE RINGS and there was room for only one ring in my pantheon? I do know that my oblivion to Lantern lore was complete. I knew that Lantern fans argued about people named Hal, Kyle, John, and Guy Gardner, but had no idea what any of it meant.

It’s really only covering the movie’s progress through Hollywood that has given me the opportunity to bone up on Lanterns. Honest, when I saw that dead guy in the Warner Bros., booth at Comic-Con last year, I had no idea who or what it was. Now I know he was called Abin Sur and he gave Hal Jordan his powers! Go me!

While I’m willing to shoulder the blame for shunning Green Lantern over the years, as I’ve been learning and growing, I have noticed a few things about the character that do strike me as flaws, dramatically speaking. It’s often noted that DC’s heroes for the most part lack the melodramatic emotional flair of the Marvel heroes, Batman and Superman being the notable exceptions. Marvel’s heroes are flawed and troubled and their powers echo and magnify those flaws and troubles; DC’s leads, generally speaking, are dudes who get some great idea to shrink or go fast and then proceed to shrink or go fast. Green Lantern is a prime example of this.

An official DC fact page for GL shows what I mean.

BACKGROUND from the comic books:
Hal Jordan always wanted to be a pilot. … One day while watching one of his father’s test flights with her, Hal experienced his greatest fear: the plane malfunctioned exploding and instantly killing his Dad.

More determined than ever to become a pilot and honor his late father, Hal enlisted in the Air Force on the day he turned sixteen. Clearly gifted, Hal excelled at flying but his cocky reckless behavior led to his dishonorable discharge.

Devastated that he failed his Dad, Hal turned to Carl who hired him as a test pilot. … Green Lantern Abin Sur crash-landed on earth and in his final moment sent his ring in search of a replacement. Hal was selected as his successor for his incredible willpower and fearlessness thus making him the first Earthling inducted into the Green Lantern Corps.

So basically, this is the story: a guy is a cocky jerk, and then one day he gets amazing powers and gets to be a space cop.

Or, here’s the Let’s Be Friends Again version.

Let it be noted, this origin story is notably lacking in drama or conflict. And it was only recently that Johns even retconned in the dying dad thing, which is still not a great motivator (I just learned that yesterday!) Not like dying Uncle Ben or Thomas Wayne or Krypton. No Hulking out, no IRon Man with a bad heart ready to blow at any moment. It’s pretty straightforward…probably just too straightforward for my tastes. Over the years, I didn’t get why so many guys identified with Green Lantern, but I think now it is just this simple storyline: cocky guy gets great powers. Who wouldn’t identify with that?

What I’m left with, then after my months of research, is Tomar-Re. I am so thrilled that the guy with the chicken-fish-head is going to be in a major motion picture. Im fact for the last month or so, everywhere I go there’s Ryan Reynolds and the chicken-fish-head man. I’m not sure that average move-goers are all that enticed by a movie poster featuring a guy with a chicken–fish-head, to be honest, but I think it’s a triumph of the nerd factor.

So what have we learned? I’ve learned that GREEN LANTERN is really a SF space opera with lots of aliens, and imaginative CGI and I’m going in with an open mind and willing to be inducted into the corps. For those who need more info, Alasdair Wilkins has a great guide to things Lantern at i09. And for those who don’t get it, Larry Groznic has a thing or two to say in this Onion story from 2002 that has a rather different view of Green Lantern:

So long as you insist on clinging to your, quite frankly, bizarre opinions on the Emerald Knight’s 60-plus-year history, it is not worth my time to engage you in purposeless noisemaking. Rather than become agitated, as I’ve allowed you to make me in the past, I will simply serve notice that I will not entertain any future Green Lantern discussions with you until you have come to a more mature place in your development as a fan. When you are ready to have a serious conversation about Green Lantern, you have my e-mail address.

And so a great gap in my nerd knowledge has now been filled in. Only one remains: Transformers. I’ve got time.


  1. “Mixed?” I would say the reviews are decidedly crappy.

    And there’s not really that much to “get” about GL. It’s about a space cop with a magic ring. It either grooves you, or it doesn’t.

  2. I’ve never understood Green Lantern either and it seems like a power that flows from your psyche or subconscious (or wherever) would be carte blanche to make internal conflict external. Instead he’s like a cosmic cop, yet from what I’ve read has none of the grit of a cop show. He was the goody-two-shoes in GL/GA which didn’t give the character any more depth but did use him as the “good cop” – it just wasn’t an act to get a confession, it was him. And while the stories were great, the character remained as exciting as oatmeal. Now DC has created, as you said, a vast space opera, making an ever grander cosmic crisis when just a little internal conflict would really change the world. Oddly enough, I think the same about Thor which recently got movie-ized.

    I’ve always wanted to write either a wild-west Green Lantern, like Jonah Hex but using the Green Lantern, make him into a cowboy… the same with Ghost Rider… it’s my curse that I think up stories for every character I see… including Dazzler… and on that note…

  3. The Green Lantern Corps comic had the best letter column title ever, “Written to the Corps”. Anyway, I liked GL for its aliens – the GL who was a sentient planet, the GL who lived in complete darkness and so was known as the “F-Sharp Bell”, Tomar Re – they worked to let the writers tell a broader range of stories than usual.

  4. I am most definitely not a white male; I’m a mixed race woman. I’m trying to think back to my 10-year-old self who loved the Green Lantern comics above all others. I liked the wise-cracking Hal Jordan, I think I liked the idea that the ring gave him the power – it kind of tied in with my love of fairy tales, mythology, science fiction, and fantasy.

  5. GL is a good supporting character in team-up books. And by good, I mean it’s cool when he does that one imaginative thing to smash a bad guy in each issue. Or better yet, when it’s not imaginative at all an he just uses the big green fist. Big green fist is the best! He’s a good supporting character on video games as well. Again, big green fist is great in video games.

    In other news, if I was Ryan Reynolds and I got a GL ring the first thing I would do is something about that Luke Perry forehead he has going on there.

  6. ““Mixed?” I would say the reviews are decidedly crappy”

    I was about to make that point – they have been downright hostile.

  7. GL is a comic about validation. Hal was a screw up in that he knew he was good at something, but others around him didn’t see it, and basically punished him for not conforming…

    But lo and behold, someone outside his peer group saw that little Hal was indeed special and asked him to join their group. The things he was derided for here on Earth are the very things treasured ‘out there.’ Then, thanks to this validation, little confident Hal was able to return to Earth and show them all that he was better than they ever thought.

  8. “Over the years, I didn’t get why so many guys identified with Green Lantern, but I think now it is just this simple storyline: cocky guy gets great powers. Who wouldn’t identify with that?”

    Meh. The cocky guy part never did much for me. In fact, my take on Jordan was that he was a mostly a loser and more than a bit slow on the uptake most of the time. The cockiness made him seem even stupider most of the time, and that made him far less sympathetic to my nerdy self than other characters might have been.

    I always wanted to like Green Lantern because he’s a space cop with a magic wishing ring. I mean come on – what could be better than that? But I never really liked Hal Jordan – even as a kid I didn’t like him much.

  9. I’ve basically read three Green Lantern eras. The GL/Green Arrow hard traveling heroes stuff. I picked up almost all of them for a nickle each in college. I really liked them but Hal was just a wood log with a magic ring it that one. Just something for Ollie to yell at for being so lame. I read some of the Kyle stuff but only because I was really into Grant Morrison’s JLA and he was the guy in the suit at the time. I thought that having an artist in the suit was a better idea than whatever Hal is/was. I also read a lot of the JSA stuff in the late 90’s early 00’s so that was the Alan Scott stuff. I liked his gawd awful ugly costume and seeing the geezer relate to the kids. So, yeah, basically Hal is a big yawn.

  10. Hal’s deal is fairly simple. Cocky, authority-bucking, fly-by-the-seat-of-his-pants kind of guy lucks into powerful wish-fulfillment gizmo, but there’s a catch. He now has to protect a whole big chunk of outer space (not just his own planet) and has to take orders from the ultimate authority figures.

    Can he handle the responsibility? Can he keep himself in line? Or will breaking the rules make him better at this job than all the colleagues who faithfully toe the company line? Is his greatest asset the weapon he wields, or is it his own nature, flawed as it may be? Can he teach the cold-hearted space gods that humanity isn’t a weakness but a strength?

    It’s really less Space Opera than it is Maverick Cop with a dose of Humans Are Special.

  11. Green Lantern is a classic example of a hero where you mention the origin story for 5 minutes/two pages and then move on to the real plot of the story.

  12. The Denny O’Neil series with Green Arrow was what got me fixed on GL. In fact, I would say these stories were larely responsible for me joining the clergy. While the complexities of GL don’t come through in this movie, the character is quite appealing. At the core of the narrative is the relationship between fear and will — and how is that not to be liked? We just finished the bloodiest century in human history, and most all bloodshed has some kind of fear at the center: fear of differences in race, religion, gender. The GL mythos is about harnessing fear and wielding the human will to overcome it. I admit to get to the core of the stories, you have to be able to enjoy the surface, sci-fi action and suspend quite a bit a disbelief. The critics are on this movie because they weren’t fans of the character — but come on, Daredevil and Hellboy don’t have anything on the new GL flick. It’s a good popcorn movie and surprisingly family friendly given Hal’s tendencies.

  13. As far as I can tell, Hal Jordan having any sort of personality traits at all are a recent retcons. The first, um, forty years of his existence, he just struck me as a boring guy with a funny superpower and the funniest weakness of all time (“Oh no, that monster is yellow! My one weakness!”). Johns gave him a personality–cocky a-hole–so I went from being uninterested to actively not liking the character.

    I still can’t explain why I’ve read every single issue of Johns’ run on the title so far though. I really don’t like Hal Jordan, but his is the only DC comic I’ve been reading for some five or six years straight now.

    (If I had to guess though, I think it has something to do with Johns commitment to the title, the fact that he gets most of the good artists to work with, and the way he walks a fine line between “This is awesome!” and “This is the dumbest thing I’ve ever read!” without ever falling over either edge.

  14. 121 reviews on Rotten Tomatoes…
    26 fresh, 95 rotten.
    (all, top, audience)

    As for the character, as a kid, it was all about the magic ring which could make all sorts of stuff. I didn’t buy a Green Lantern comic until… Blackest Night. That was more for the new lanterns, less for the actual heroes. (And isn’t the oath “…in darkest night…”?)

    I liked Guy “One Punch” Gardner (and G’Nort) in the JLI. I like the other GLs. The GLs of 2814 aren’t that interesting.

  15. This is part of why the Giffen/deMatteis JL was so great. For the first time in DC comics history, Green Lantern had an actual personality. And, because it was Guy Gardner, he was a giant douchenozzle. Wasn’t a great fan of Kyle Rayner, but the idea of having a creative person wielding a weapon controlled by imagination is an obvious fit. And then everyone wanted Hal back, because…?

  16. I’m right there with you, Heidi. I was a Marvel reader from the get-go, and when I started dabbling in DC, all it took was hearing “he’s green, and his weakness is yellow!” and I was out. In a collection of thousands, I own a whopping 6 Green Lantern comics (the first 6 issues of the Geoff Johns relaunch).

    But I enjoyed the movie quite a bit. I’m a big fan of cosmic stories (especially the Ron Lim-era Silver Surfer and the recent Abnett-n-Lanning stuff), and this movie scratched that itch. It is unabashedly science fiction-y in a way that none of the other superhero movies are, and I thought that was pretty dang cool. My full review is here: http://www.playbackstl.com/movie-reviews/10762-green-lantern-warner-bros-pg-13

    And while most of the reviews have been vicious, I’m pretty close in agreement with Roger Ebert’s middle-of-the-road review: “The bottom line: This is a comic-book movie. Fans of the Green Lantern (in his intergalactic story mode and not his earthbound TV series) will no doubt enjoy its visualizations and its references to details of the back story that escaped me. There’s a whole lot going on. We don’t really expect subtle acting or nuanced dialogue. We appreciate an effective villain. We demand one chaste kiss between hero and heroine, but no funny stuff. We enjoy spectacular visuals like the Green elders, who are immortal and apparently spend eternity balancing on top of towering pillars. Green Lantern delivers all of those things, and for what it’s worth, I liked it more than Thor.”

  17. I remember an interview with Kurt Busiek a few years ago where he discussed the aspects of Hal he found interesting as a writer. If you’re here, Mr. Busiek, would you care to recapitulate?

  18. The only Green Lantern I’ve ever cared about in the least is Darwyn Cooke’s approach to him in NEW FRONTIER. And it’s for exactly the reason you mention, Heidi–there’s some personal emotional drama in his exit from the Korean War.

    However, there’s something fun and comic-booky (bear with me here) about his power, that he can create giant boxing gloves and hammers and things, that takes me back to that fun sort of Bill Finger-esque Batman stuff, running on giant typewriters.

    Still, I’m with you. I just don’t get the appeal of the character.

  19. I agree with Matthew, the only version of Hal Jordan I ever found interesting was in Darwyn Cooke’s “New Frontier.”

    Otherwise, I personally found the John Stewart version from the “Justice League” cartoon far more compelling: Tough as nails soldier who lets down his guard and falls for one of his teammates (Hawkgirl) who then betrays him. He then falls in love with another teammate (Vixen) only to go forward in time to the future and finds out that his future son (Warhawk) is the product of a (future) liaison with former girlfriend Hawkgirl, which, when he goes back to the present, affects his relationship with Vixen as he has trouble choosing between the two women.

    I’m sure it sounds silly written out like that, but it actually works onscreen.

  20. When I was watching the NBA finals, they kept showing commercials for Green Lantern, and I kept thinking, ” what is that smell? Is there an odor coming from my TV?” And then I realized it was the trailer, and I said, ” Wew! This Green Lantern movie is a stinker!”

    It actually looks so bad, it could be the movie that bursts the super hero film bubble. Although I thought the Fantastic 4 films were pretty horrible as well.

  21. Solo Hal Jordan is pretty boring.The best stories featuring Hal Jordan as Green Lantern include the larger Green Lantern Corps. The mythology and vast canvas of the Corps is the most interesting and unique aspect of Green Lantern.

    Even Geoff Johns, Hal Jordan fan #1, seems to realize this, as he’s invented ever-more sparkly rainbow Corps of many colors to overcompensate for Hal’s essential dullness.

  22. GL’s ring, as a vehicle for expressing his will power, works much better within a single, close-ended story than it does within a serial. The hero can be selected for one monumental task by a cosmic force (God?) that requires using the ring. The menace approaches. He is able to deal with the idea of the universe being annihilated, all humans being eaten by BEMs, or another terrifying threat, and uses his will power, through the ring, to expel the menace from the universe forever. The ring disappears, and he relishes the glory of his heroic feat for the rest of his life. He was capable of saving _____ when no one else could.

    A story with the Cosmic Cube, a pure wish-fulfillment device, could use the same principle. The discovery of the Cosmic Cube leads to the discovery of a menace to the underpinnings of the universe: cosmic constants are losing their constancy. Comprehending how the universe works is beyond anyone but the hero. Friends that he tells about the Cube want him to do a nigh-infinite number of good things with it, but he’s not God. As cosmological aberrations start to appear, terrifying humanity, the hero gathers himself, becomes one with the Cube for an instant, and restores the constants to their proper states. The Cube becomes powerless. His friends are distraught at all the good things that could have been done, but they wouldn’t have mattered if the universe had ended.


  23. Green Lantern’s weakness is the color yellow — which I always thought was lame.

    It was also confusing as a kid. In the DC Universe, Superman supposedly had powers on Earth because our planet is illuminated by a yellow sun. But if that was the case, why wasn’t Green Lantern totally powerless on Earth during daylight hours?

    And even if we give Green Lantern the benefit of the doubt regarding the Sun, how can we take seriously a hero who, to be effective, has to avoid butter, bees, sunflowers, bananas, most Post-Its, canaries, pencils, certain M&Ms, and all Pittsburgh Steelers home games?

    This said, am I going to go see the GL film?

    Of course!

  24. For me, I think it was the Gil Kane art on early Green Lantern issues that addicted us to the title if not the character.

    I’m glad you share my confusion, Heidi on whether Tomar Re is a bird or a reptile.

    And speaking of all manner of space heroes, don’t you think Adam Strange is a bit of a rip-off of John Carter? I mean, hero inexplicably transported from Earth to distant planet to date space princesses?

  25. I have to admit this… but I’m with Heidi on this. The appeal of the character is kinda lost on me. Don’t get me wrong, I like the concept and respect the creation and the history. But much like 31 flavors of ice cream I have my favs. GL is not one of them, but if it’s the only flavor in the fridge I will still eat it, hahah!

    I will go see the movie, but as a comic book fan more than a GL fan.

  26. And speaking of all manner of space heroes, don’t you think Adam Strange is a bit of a rip-off of John Carter?

    Yes, but that’s to be expected when you’re dealing with pulp heroes.

    And when a writer deals with superheroes, the source of a hero’s power will dictate how it’s used. Marvel has tried to avoid the problem of a hero’s freedom to act being limited by his power source, by vaguely referring to “other dimensions” that the energy originates from. They’ve gotten away with that for decades, although individual writers have attempted other explanations. Nicieza created a Wellspring. There’s the Phoenix Force, of course. Starlin’s had Thanos obtain ultimate power several times.

    The writer has to decide what’s more important: the fantasy aspects of using the power without restraints or, knowing that having the power is temporary, deciding what to use it for. The latter approach results in close-ended stories.


  27. “And even if we give Green Lantern the benefit of the doubt regarding the Sun, how can we take seriously a hero who, to be effective, has to avoid butter, bees, sunflowers, bananas, most Post-Its, canaries, pencils, certain M&Ms, and all Pittsburgh Steelers home games?”

    And urine – there was that issue where a spirit called the Golden Shower possessed Ollie and he almost killed Hal. At least that’s how Hal always explains it to Carol.

  28. And urine – there was that issue where a spirit called the Golden Shower possessed Ollie and he almost killed Hal.

    You’re on to a trend. From CityWeekly’s “the list of EIGHT”:

    He’s powerless against the color yellow; Green Lantern is routinely defeated by nemesis Dr. Bananaman and his sidekick, The Golden Shower.

    It’s good that Superman gets more respect.


  29. Good piece Heidi. I was a committed Marvelite as a kid so the DC characters didn’t do a lot for me until New Gods. (Except for The Atom and reprints of 1950s Superman stories.)

    The problem I had with Green Lantern was that he was an authority figure, not an everyman character like a lot of the Marvel heroes. GL was a space cop. A space cop without much of a personality.

    I guess Green Lantern appealed to kids who wanted to belong to a society and Marvel characters tended to be loners who wanted to retain their independence.

  30. I agree with you entirely. As a young girl I could never get into GL. I liked Flash because I liked Iris. I liked Superman because I liked Lois and Lana and Kara. I liked SpiderMan because I enjoyed the rich supporting cast.

    And it’s not like I don’t like the Space theme. I loved Thomas and Starlins run on Warlock (love that Gamora) and Captain Marvel. I liked Hawkman and Hawkwoman. But I found Hal Jordon and his stories just so incredibly boring. I’m not even a little bit interested in seeing the movie. I’ll most likely rent it.

  31. Funny i’m on the other side of the argument, I don’t get how anyone who loves sci-fi and comics could not get and love Green Lantern.

    Now as far as my first thoughts on the piece, one is that GL/GA is the worst thing to show someone who wants to like GL. Hal is basically used as a punching bag to prop up Green Arrow it’s basically a slap in the face to the character and nearly ruined him for decades to come.

    Also Hal is more than just a cocky guy that got this ring that short changes him big time. I always compare him to Han Solo mixed with Maverick except he was created decades before both.

    From the first time that I read GL in the 80’s, I was hooked on the mythology and Hal instantly became my favorite hero. None of that happened because I could relate to him, no Hal and I are nothing alike in anyway. It was because I loved the vastness of what kind of stories you could tell with GL and how heroic and admirable Hal was as a person.

    I just came from seeing the movie and was blown away. As someone who’s been reading GL books for nearly 3 decades it was a dream come true to see GL on the big screen. The critics were wrong again and i’m already making plans to see it again tonight in 3D. The movie is very loyal to the material and everyone involved did a great job, if you’re a GL fan you have to watch it on the big screen.

  32. Love Power Girl and all her attributes; liked the Wolfman/Staton GL the best. And Willingham and Moore did some good stuff with Corps members. But I’d rather the film had been about John Stewart and Katma Tui.

  33. I can identify with your befuddlement over GL’s popularity, Heidi. It took me years — nay, decades — to figure out why the Legion of Super-Heroes were such fan favorites. They never appealed to me. Then I realized the Legion was a metaphor for comics fandom itself. Which may explain why they were always more popular with hardcore fans and collectors than with casual readers (back when comics had casual readers).

  34. …Rather my face of the Silver Age alien Green Lanterns was a ” living big fat jewel person ” Green Lantern , whom , I think , has been put in the same ” No , no , that’s too silly ” place Bouncing Boy and Matter-Eater Lad have been , for some reason . :-(
    I suppose you may have been even spared the period when Hal Jordan was declared to have killed someone in a drunk driving accident before he became GL ?
    Oh , and the ” Slack Lantern ” from the 90s who took over the Ring when Hal became , um , a powerful villain who killed off all the other GLs and blew up his home town…
    There was a certain story involving a refrigerator then…:-0

  35. @Jimmie

    Well, Green Lanterns are much like ice cream too, except there’s 7199 more flavors to choose from, including three more varieties of tasty human if Vanill-Hal Jordan don’t do it for you.

  36. Good point about the Legion, G. Now can anyone explain the popularity of the X-Men to me, because I’ve dipped in and out of the comic for 45 years and it’s never really appealed to me at all. I mean I get that it’s an allegory about the treatment of minorities but is that it? Wouldn’t it just be more enriching to read a book on civil rights?

    Why do the public in the Marvel Universe love The Avengers but hate the X-Men? Surely the public wouldn’t know who was a mutant and who was created by a lab accident etc?

  37. Lew, I think it has to do with the fact that mutants aren’t a real minority, which means that the emotional stakes are lower.

    X-Men could mine the real struggles of real minorities for drama and angst and emotional resonance, then have the stories turn out however the writers wanted without offending anyone – and, theoretically, slip a message of tolerance in to readers who might not otherwise think about such topics. A superhero comic specifically about an actual oppressed minority and their various social movements for change would have to conform to actual history and would probably be considered a bit of a downer by most readers.

    Seriously examining and talking about actual civil rights movements is more socially relevant and morally uplifting, but X-Men was never intended to fill that role. It’s not serious, it’s an over the top superhuman melodrama, which as a side benefit might spur readers to think about moral subjects in spite of themselves.

    Of course X-Men First Class pretty much failed to even acknowledge that there were any actual civil rights movements going on at that time and killed or evil-fied all of the non-white characters, but that’s a whole other story.

  38. “G. interestingly I got that about the Legion IMMEDIATELY.”

    Well, at the time I started reading comics (in the late ’60s) I had no contact with any kind of organized fandom. That was something happening in New York, and I lived in Memphis. It wasn’t until the late ’70s that I went to my first conventions, spent time with other geeks, and got the Legion/fandom connection.

    I think that drove a lot of the mania for team books in the late ’70s and through the ’80s (X-Men, New Mutants, Teen Titans, etc). You could imagine you and your fellow geeks as these persecuted — but supremely talented and powerful — misfit/heroes.

  39. I liked that cartoon movie, New Frontier, and recently there was a nifty looking GL strip in that weekly newspaper comic DC tried a couple of years ago.

    I am no GL fan, but the potential (at least that I see) is the retro cool 50s/60s manly man who winds up having to stop being about himself and just be this soldier in this army of aliens. The of course it is the fact that he is a manly man that makes him the best soldier of them all, and no one can compete. But he is pretty dull usually.

    It’s a shame this movie got near universal bad reviews. I was looking forward to it, but I guess now I will wait for HBO.

  40. As a kid, Green Lantern wasn’t my favorite superhero, but I liked him well enough so that I think I can get his appeal.

    If part of the appeal of superheroes is that they represent vicarious empowerment for the reader, you really can’t get better than Green Lantern. Here’s a guy who through the power of his ring can do anything–ANYTHING–his mind imagines. That’s pretty cool.

    Also, the concept that Hal Jordan was without fear–and that was the reason he could be a Green Lantern–was pretty interesting to me as a kid. The concept has been eroded and discarded in more recent years/decades, but as a kid, I always liked the idea of a superhero who was granted his awesome powers because he was courageous, rather than being courageous because he has awesome powers that he could rely upon.

    Add to that the whole idea of the Green Lantern Corps–the idea that he was part of a larger group united in common cause–that has the same appeal as other groups of legend, be it Arthur’s Knights of the Round Table, or Robin Hood’s Merry Men, or Jason’s Argonauts, or whatever else. I always liked those kinds of stories more than the singular adventures of individuals; wonder what that says about me…

    Not all of these elements are still as present in the current Green Lantern storytelling, but to the extent that they underpin the character, that’s probably where I’d start to describe GL’s appeal.

    But, hey, I certainly understand not “getting” certain popular characters. I mean, I have the same feeling toward the Incredible Hulk.

  41. I’m with Heidi on this. The ring or weapon is kinda cool in a child like way. Even the whole mythology with the blue dwarfs and stuff is still cool. But the main characters with the rings, Jordan, the other guy and the other guy, lame-o!

  42. The appeal of Green Lantern? If you were a kid with a quarter, you could get any kind of a ring out of a vending machine at the supermarket, and with a little imagination you could BE Green Lantern. If your folks had some old class ring or something lying around the house, ditto. And the GL oath? Cool, irresistible and easy to learn.

  43. I find it interesting that Ms. Macdonald felt the need to show her comic fan cred before stating that she “didn’t get the appeal of Green Lantern,” as though she was expecting a response on the order of “Aw! You’re just a girl! Of course you don’t understand why Green Lantern is cool! Go play with your Barbie dolls!” While it’s easy for guys who hang out in comic shops to make that general comment, I can understand why a story that started out as a gimmick-driven concept, as opposed to a story about a man who didn’t start out as a hero became one due to a twist of fate, would elude some people male or female. Perhaps that’s why Marvel tended to have an advantage over DC during the ’60s and ’70s until “defectors” like Denny O’Neil and Neal Adams were permitted to retool established characters like Batman and later Green Lantern/Green Arrow with the “Marvel Soap Opera Formula” that made readers care about the characters instead of getting bored with their exhibitions of their powers to stretch the story (“Flash & Superman’s super-speed defy the laws of physics again? *YAWN*”). I’ve read the latest Green Lantern stories and while I’m not a huge fan, I would like to think that I can appreciate how the character evolved from a gimmic-dependent superhero to a flawed human being who overcame his ego problems to save Earth as well as the universe. A shame that many “comic fans” and film critics can’t.

  44. @Lew: I think in its heyday under Claremont, X-Men achieved success through a combination of the central mutants-as-minorities metaphor and the family/clubhouse feel of the characters living together in their mansion. Take those together and you have a “family and friendship ultimately triumph over a hostile world” set-up, which I think had a lot of appeal to fans in the 80s and 90s. (Things went wrong somewhere around the M-Day arc, which was meant to be a back-to-basics retooling, but somehow ended up with a profoundly depressing comic about the last survivors of a dying race living in a refugee camp.)

    Green Lantern: I’ve always thought it was a weak idea too. I’ve never been able to shake the feeling that today’s writers are trying to find themes that simply weren’t in the original comics. Is there really anything to the premise beyond “stock hero finds magic ring”? I’ve never been convinced that there is. That might explain why some of the other Green Lantern characters (like Guy Gardner) work better for me – they were actually created to work with elements that were merely grafted on to Hal Jordan.

  45. I saw the movie yesterday and didn’t care for it. So boring. I was 90 minutes in and hadn’t seen anything interesting. The worst part is that they don’t do anything interesting with the ring. The constructs are incredibly dull. Great effects and all but dang, terrible script even for a comic book movie.

  46. I saw it a few hours ago and liked it — this coming from a former Marvel Zombie and someone who hasn’t followed Green Lantern since the early 1970s. I honestly don’t understand the “boring” remark. A film like “Barry Lyndon” is boring — “Green Lantern” certainly wasn’t.

    My only real gripe with the film is that the 3D was pretty much window dressing — a weak excuse to squeeze a few extra bucks out of filmgoers.

  47. I wrote a long response here:


    A clip:

    “He’s a cocky guy with tremendous willpower who gets a ring that runs on willpower and can create anything he can think of (although it’s often had a weakness for yellow) and is turned into an interstellar policeman. So far, so good– he has a science fiction version of Aladdin’s lamp, he can create whatever he wishes if he believes hard enough.

    But the fuel of his power is also his greatest flaw– he thinks he can solve everything through sheer force of will.”

  48. I agree. Really cosmic stuff has always left me kinda cold. I have like 4 GL books in my 9000+ comic book collection. To me, Green Lantern has always just been a cool member of the JLA.

    I didn’t even know who Hector Hammond was before this movie came out. Embarrassing, but true. I do better with Green Arrow lore than I do Green Lantern.

  49. G wrote: ““Barry Lyndon” boring? See it again. Like most Kubrick films, it improves with repeat viewings.”

    I didn’t even get through the FIRST viewing when I saw it in the theaters during its first run. It was like watching paint dry. I walked out at about the mid-point — a rarity for me when viewing any film.

    To date, it’s the only Kubrick film I didn’t like at all.

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