With news breaking from Variety yesterday that Warner Brothers is considering its options in terms of whether to keep Ryan Reynolds on for another Green Lantern movie or reboot the franchise completely, the comics Internet woke up, rubbed its eyes and realized that when The Dark Knight Rises hits, it's possible DC will have zero active superhero movie franchises, at least until we find out whether Man of Steel is a success or not.
Green Lantern, though is an incredibly versatile character, and there are literally five characters you can hand the mantle off to without having to reboot continuity or scrap all the expensive digital work done to make the first film. Would you want to tweak some things and make improvements? Of course, but you'd want to do that anyway, coming off a movie that barely made its money back. Meanwhile, here are five ways the franchise can be reinvented.
Alan Scott, originally introduced as the first-ever character to call himself the Green Lantern in 1940, was originally a train engineer who survived a wreck only to discover a magical green lantern in the cabin. He fashioned himself a ring out of the metal and, for a time, was the go-to guy for creating giant green fists and baseball bats.
After Hal Jordan hit the scene and the Silver Age of comics happened, Alan's role (which had already been diminished by reduced demand in the late '40s and early '50s for superhero comics) dropped almost completely off the radar, and has been all over the map since then, with DC often struggling to determine just what to do with the old Justice Society members that fans love, but don't buy books about.
Recently, however, he's become something of a lightning rod. In this week's Earth 2 #2, the character made his first appearance in the New 52 and was reinvented not only as a young media mogul with no connection to World War II, but a gay one at that.
The ensuing media storm has has granted Alan Scott unprecedented awareness among non-comics readers and if ever there was a time to begin developing a film using him as the lead in stead of Hal, it would be now, while the LGBT community still sees him as a horse they'd like to back.
Here's the thing about Hal Jordan: He's quit being a superhero more than anybody this side of Peter Parker, and been fired from the job with roughly the same regularity as George Jetson. That means that even if you discount the Golden Age stuff and decide to stick with the Oan Green Lantern Corps, there are a number of heroes you can go with.
Guy Gardner, meanwhile, has a storied history with the Justice League, even if it was during the "bwa-ha-hah" years, and starred regularly on Batman: the Brave and the Bold, so he's got some awareness outside of just comics.
Of course, the other side of that is that he starred in the live-action Justice League TV pilot (pictured). Ouch.
As the Green Lantern of the DC Animated Universe, John Stewart was so popular and widely recognizable ten or fifteen years ago that when it was announced that Ryan Reynolds would play Green Lantern in the feature film, there were actually a number of comments very critical of Warner's decision to "whitewash" the role.
Obviously, those weren't comic book fans and their criticisms were largely laughed at within the industry, but introducing John Stewart might kill two birds with one stone: It would allow Warner Brothers to bring that generation of fans the Green Lantern they remember while also bringing a nonwhite character into the Justice League which, in most iterations, is a pretty monochromatic bunch.
The challenge would likely be to decide whether to hook his origin into Hal Jordan's retirement, or just to give up on that completely and create a whole new origin for Stewart. Both he and Gardner have the same problem, and it comes along with the additional question of, if you address Jordan at all, even without a Reynolds appearance, does that negate rebooting?
Now, here's a scorched-earth way to handle it if you ever heard one! How about if a modified version of the Emerald Twilight story happened off-camera and Kyle was brought in as the last Green Lantern, working at the behest of Ganthet, the last Guardian?
Frankly the first arc or so of Ron Marz's run, the one that culminates in Zero Hour, would be a pretty serviceable movie in and of itself, even if it would get us all talking way more than anyone would like about women in refrigerators. And introducing Kyle would be a nice olive branch to fans of the character upset that he's been consistently shunted to the back of the line since Hal Jordan's return.
Leaving off the story of Emerald Twilight, but retaining the "last surviving Lantern" aspect of Kyle's origin, might be a good way to get him into the Justice League movie with as simple an origin as possible--something that's probably important, since you don't want to have to recap the origin story so soon after that's the story that failed to connect with audiences for the Reynolds movie.
You know you'd love it.