By Will Barber – Taylor
In this thrilling DC Universe Movie, Earth’s latest Green Lantern will rise! When a Power Ring is bestowed upon former Marine John Stewart, it leads him on a life-changing mission. With Justice League member Green Arrow and Thanagarian Hawkgirl by his side, Stewart is thrown into a complicated galactic war with shocking origins and catastrophic consequences. It’s a trial by fire for the inexperienced Lantern as he battles deadly enemies like Sinestro – but a much darker secret will be the true test of this Green Lantern’s strength!
Outside the triumvirate of Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman the DC Universe has, at least in animated films, a tendency to overlook the other founding members of the Justice League. The likes of the Flash, Green Lantern and Aquaman have often not been given solo films of their own and when they do take leading parts in films more often than not it is part of an ensemble cast.
The space cops of the Green Lantern Corps have fared better than most however. Unlike other DC heroes considered to be in the major league, Green Lantern has had an animated TV series, albeit a short lived one, and two animated films focussing on Hal Jordan – Green Lantern: First Flight and Green Lantern: Emerald Knights.
However, both films were released over a decade ago and it has not been until now that the Emerald Gladiator had a chance to stand out as the centre of a DC film. Green Lantern: Beware My Power certainly puts the Green Lanterns front and centre however it isn’t always in the most imaginative use possible. DC often has had a problem with what exactly to do with the Green Lanterns and this film is a prime example of it.
The film uses Jon Stewart, a popular Green Lantern who was one of the stand out stars of the Justice League/Justice League Unlimited animated series released in the 2000s and gives him the origin story of Kyle Rayner. Rayner, perhaps the most neglected of the Green Lanterns, was introduced as the last Green Lantern after Hal Jordan went crazy/was possessed by an alien parasite following the events of the Death of Superman and murdered all the other Green Lanterns. Green Lanterns origins getting swapped out isn’t something new – when Kyle Rayner appeared in Superman: The Animated Series he was given Hal Jordan’s origin story so it is perhaps fitting that Jon Stewart is given Kyle’s.
Stewart is an excellent character in his own right and the film explores his PTSD and survivors’ guilt from having come home from Afghanistan well, particularly showing how someone who had gone through a violent conflict and needs a sense of purpose can find that purpose in saving innocents rather than taking lives.
Yet this is undercut to a degree by having Jon take on the task (as he does at the end of the film) of rebuilding the Green Lantern Corps – why not demonstrate allow him to explore going from one institution, the military, to another the Green Lantern Corp and prove the differences between the two and show how Jon could have potentially grown as a person? It seems an ultimately poor use of the Green Lanterns to have them killed off almost in the entirety before Jon has ever really encountered them.
It is the use of the other part of Kyle Rayner’s backstory, the greatest Green Lantern of all Hal Jordan being responsible for the death of the Green Lantern Corps, that similarly makes this film not live up to its full potential. In the film, the eventual reveal that all that has happened in the film is as a result of the supposedly dead Hal Jordan having turned evil is a decidedly good twist. Jordan had at the start of the film been declared dead both by his ring which had found Jon Stewart to be its new owner and Shayera Hol aka Hawkgirl who is searching for vengeance after the deaths of millions of Thanagarians. Even when Hal is revealed to be alive it at first seems that he is the prisoner of his old enemy Sinestro.
Hal’s reveal as the actual villain of the piece is very well done and one which makes sense with what had previously been presented however it does feel somewhat reductive to have Hal’s possession by Parallax not only come so early in the Tomorrowverse’s timeline but also to come so easily. In the comics, Hal’s descent into madness is shown as the result of seeing his home city and all his loved ones die in front of his eyes whereas in the film it simply happens after Sinestro infects him with it. Hal isn’t ever seen to fight the possession or in anyway try and resist it which seems highly out of character.
It is these elements of the plot which hold the film back from being another truly remarkable entry in the DC Animated Original Universe film catalogue. The premise of Jon Stewart learning to become a Green Lantern after suffering through one conflict and having to stop another, the Rann/Thanagar, is an interesting one and certainly helps to explain to an audience new to the concept of the Green Lanterns what they actually did. However, by killing off the Corp the film fails to give full breadth to the scope that could be contained in a Green Lantern film by exploring the Corp as a whole.
The voice acting throughout is fairly good though Aldis Hodge who plays Jon Stewart does at times seems somewhat bored or underwhelmed by the material he has been given. Nolan North, who has previously played Hal Jordan before gives an impressive rendition of the greatest Green Lantern however it’s a shame his role in the film is limited and he ultimately plays a more villainous than heroic role.
Green Lantern: Beware My Power is a fine film which helps to expand the reaches of the Tomorrowverse and establish new characters in it. But it wastes some of its potential by taking a very binary approach to the Green Lantern Corps – that they are only necessary as either existing in an origin story or being wiped out. Fundamentally this flaw weighs this film down and makes it not as enjoyable as it could have been.