HBO Max's Green Lantern Series Pivot Probably Spells Doom For An Anticipated DC Movie

John Stewart Green Lantern flying alongside other Lanterns DC Comics artwork
(Image credit: DC Comics)

HBO Max is slowly building an exclusive library of DC TV shows, with Titans and Doom Patrol having permanently migrated there after DC Universe got out of the streaming game, Peacemaker Season 1 impressing earlier this year and shows like The Penguin and Green Lantern on the way. In the case of the latter though, we’ll have to wait a lot longer for its arrival, though for good reason. While the original plan for Green Lantern had been to spotlight Emerald Knights like Alan Scott and Guy Gardner across multiple decades, now it’s refocusing on just one of these ringslingers. 

Following on the heels of Black Adam’s Aldis Hodge voicing John Stewart in the direct-to-video animated movie Green Lantern: Beware My Power, word came in earlier this week that HBO Max’s Green Lantern is being retooled and will now be a show following John Stewart, who’s been part of DC Comics lore since the early ‘70s and was propelled to mainstream popularity in the 2000s through the animated shows Justice League and Justice League Unlimited. While it’s good to hear that HBO Max subscribers could still get to see the Green Lantern series someday, this creative pivot likely spells doom for Green Lantern Corps, which has long been one of the more highly-anticipated upcoming DC movies.

Green Lanterns Hal Jordan and John Stewart in Young Justice

(Image credit: Warner Bros. Animation)

What Was Planned For Green Lantern Corps

It’s no secret that 2011’s Green Lantern failed to impress critically or commercially, resulting in plans for a sequel being scrapped and Ryan Reynolds taking every available opportunity to mock his sole outing as Hal Jordan. However, in late 2014, a little over a year after Man of Steel’s release, Warner Bros. Pictures announced Green Lantern Corps as part of its initial slate of movies that would build out what we now know as the DC Extended Universe. It was originally supposed to come out on July 24, 2020 and is a full-on reboot, i.e. has no ties to Reynolds’ Green Lantern movie. 

In January 2017, David Goyer and Justin Rhodes were tapped to write the Green Lantern Corps script, with Goyer having crafted the story with Geoff Johns, who spent nearly a decade writing the main Green Lantern comic book and revitalizing the property overall. By summer 2018, Johns was tackling the Green Lantern Corps script solo. The only plot details we’ve learned about the reboot is that it stars Hal Jordan and John Stewart in what’s been described as “Lethal Weapon in space,” meaning the story would have been much more cosmic compared to 2011’s Green Lantern, which saw most of its action take place on or near Earth.

While Zack Snyder had shot an ending for his cut of Justice League with a Wayne T. Carr-played John Stewart appearing before Bruce Wayne, Warner Bros. told him to toss it aside because the studio had other plans for the character, likely referring to Green Lantern Corps. So instead, Snyder used Harry Lennix’s Martian Manhunter, who’d already appeared in Man of Steel and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice disguised as General Swanwick.

The Green Lantern in DC comics.

(Image credit: DC Comics)

Why Green Lantern Corps Probably Isn’t Happening Anymore

While Green Lantern Corps was once being positioned as a key movie in the DC Extended Universe, it doesn’t appear that’s the case anymore. Along with obviously never hitting its target release date (2020 instead delivered Birds of Prey and Wonder Woman 1984), we haven’t gotten any major word on its progress since it was reported in late 2019 that Geoff Johns was expected to turn in a new Green Lantern Corps draft to Warner Bros. In May 2021, Green Lantern Corps was alleged to still be happening, but almost a year and a half later, there hasn’t been a peep about it. 

The lack of news concerning Green Lantern Corps is bad enough on its own, but then there’s the fact that HBO Max’s Green Lantern has, albeit slowly, been making more progress overall. Now granted, there’s nothing to say that these two projects couldn’t exist simultaneously. With Green Lantern Corps firmly set in the DCEU continuity, I doubt I was alone in thinking that HBO Max’s Green Lantern could be set in another reality, namely because of how the series was going to explore different time periods. On the other hand, it could be interesting to have two DCEU-set Green Lantern projects taking place in the DCEU, similar to how Peacemaker spun out of the events of The Suicide Squad.

However, now that John Stewart will be the main protagonist of HBO Max’s Green Lantern, this seems like a good indicator that Green Lantern Corps is no more, or at the very least will have to go through its own retooling. Will the movie now just star Hal Jordan? We tried that in 2011 and it didn’t go well. If Green Lantern Corps couldn't make much headway with John as one of its leads, and assuming WarnerMedia doesn’t want to feature two live-action versions of the character, then it’s sounding like HBO Max’s Green Lantern is taking priority and Green Lantern Corps is now sitting on the shelf.

John Stewart's Green Lantern in DC Comics.

(Image credit: DC Comics)

Is This The Right Move For John Stewart?

Now before anyone gets the wrong idea from the above words, let me make it clear: John Stewart deserves to star in his own live-action project. For a generation of DC Comics fans, he is the main Green Lantern, and I’d even go so far to say that John’s fanbase is far larger than Hal Jordan’s. Maybe if 2011’s Green Lantern had featured John instead of Hal, it might have have drawn more people to the theater, and that’s the foundation of my concern: John deserves to shine in a blockbuster movie.

With Green Lantern Corps focusing on Hal Jordan and John Stewart, HBO Max’s Green Lantern was a great opportunity to put the lesser-known human Green Lanterns front and center: the aforementioned Alan Scott, played by Jeremy Irvine, and Guy Gardner, played by Finn Wittrock, as well as Simon Baz and Jessica Cruz. Nothing against any of them, but the chances of these four leading a live-action Green Lantern movie in the near future were slim. So with John supposedly having been unavailable to use, the HBO Max show was a good opportunity to boost their profiles. I was also intrigued by the prospect of following along with these characters at different decades, with Alan being a closeted gay man working as an FBI agent in the 1940s, and Guy embodying the macho man stereotype of the 1980s.

Because HBO Max is changing direction with Green Lantern, Jeremy Irvine and Finn Wittrock are no longer signed on, through reportedly Berlanti Productions is still interesting in working with these two if/when this project, which has a script-to-series commitment, moves forward. But even if Irvine and Wittrock do get to play Alan and Guy, it won’t be the same as what was originally envisioned. HBO Max’s Green Lantern is now a John Stewart-centric affair, so any human Lanterns that pop in will be playing second fiddle. That’s by no means a bad thing, but I wish that Green Lantern Corps could have been the platform for John to impress alongside a different version of Hal Jordan, and Alan, Guy, Simon Baz and Jessica Cruz (hell, throw Kyle Rayner in there) could have entertained viewers in the streaming realm.

Ultimately though, this move is good for John Stewart and his fans. We’ve waited long enough for this character to be adapted into live-action, and while the budget for HBO Max’s Green Lantern is expected to be decreased compared to being somewhere in the $120 million range in its former incarnation, I’m hoping enough resources are poured into the project to make it look exceptional… or at least better than the Green Lantern movie. As a longtime Green Lantern fan, I want this property to get its proper due in live-action, and if an HBO Max show is the best way to make that happen right now, then having John be the leader character improves its chances of success.

Because HBO Max (opens in new tab)’s Green Lantern is basically starting from scratch, it’ll likely be a while until the next big updates comes in, but once it does, CinemaBlend will pass it along. Meanwhile, check out the best HBO Max shows that are available to stream now.

Adam Holmes
Senior Content Producer

Connoisseur of Marvel, DC, Star Wars, John Wick, MonsterVerse and Doctor Who lore. He's aware he looks like Harry Potter and Clark Kent.