James Gunn Compares Green Lantern TV Show To One Of HBO's Best Dramas While Explaining Its DCU Significance

The past three months have been quite a tumultuous time for DC fans, at least when it comes to the film and TV side of the company’s output. James Gunn and Peter Safran took over as head honchos back in October, and while they’d dropped update nuggets here and there about their divisive plans to connect everything together cohesively, the duo intentionally held off on divulging their overarching goals until the proper time. That day has finally come, with Gunn and Safran sharing an onslaught of news about their DCU goals, and that includes details about HBO Max’s long-gestating Green Lantern TV show that should make HBO fans pleased.

As revealed by The Suicide Squad’s director, the very first live-action episodic series focusing on the intergalactic corps of heroes will be dubbed Lanterns, and it will indeed center on two of the character’s most iconic alter egos, rectifying the initial plans. Here’s what else Gunn had to offer, including a comparison to one of HBO’s best (if not exactly perfect) dramas. In his words:

So our next project is another television show, a series. We call it Lanterns, and it is starring two of our favorite Green Lanterns, Hal Jordan and John Stewart. It's gonna be with HBO Max, as all our series are that we're gonna talk about today. And it is more of a True Detective-type mystery with our two Lanterns, a terrestrial-based mystery.

I do very much love the unexpected juxtaposition of HBO’s gritty and violent True Detective anthology and a pair of flying, matter-manipulating, color-fixated DC superheroes. Which isn’t to say that viewers should absolutely expect to see Hal and John investigating savage and ritualistic murders that may or may not tip into supernatural territories, although it’s not entirely out of the question. I would assume Gunn is referring more to True Detective’s dense and twisting narratives being an inspirational launchpad for the crime at hand in Lanterns. Though having two lead characters tackling the mystery is also an obvious similarity.  

Is it too late to start campaigning for Lanterns to also take some casting inspiration from True Detective by casting Season 1’s Matthew McConaughey as Hal Jordan, and Season 3’s Mahershala Ali as John Stewart? I guess the actors may be a bit too old to be portraying the DC stalwarts for the first time, unless the story itself calls for that. 

Speaking of the story, Peter Safran shared that the central hook in Lanterns will be one that has narrative reverberations across this fictional universe, saying:

That leads into the overall story that we're telling throughout the different movies and television shows. We find this ancient horror on Earth, and these guys are basically super-cops on Precinct Earth.

Given the way DC has leaned harder into horror in recent years on the comic side of things, from the excellence of DC vs. Vampires to its Conjuring line to Batman: Reptillian's batshit brilliance, I am 100% into the live-action fare adhering to some of those same vibes, particularly when it comes to the episodic side. The Batman's Riddler, whose portrayer Paul Dano has an ongoing Year One comic book prequel, is a great example of such off-kilter freakiness, but it'll be quite different for a Green Lantern tale to skew more horrific. All that said, one can hope and assume that Hal and John's dynamic won't be quite so heavy and loaded. 

James Gunn wrapped the Lanterns talk by namechecking his own HBO Max TV show as another point of comparison, this time regarding the upcoming series' place within the packed slate of upcoming DC movies and series.

And the story is gonna weave back and forth between the films and the television shows. Peacemaker's a good example of how that works, and that's what we're gonna do with this big overarching story that we're telling.

While it’s obviously not clear when Lanterns will make its debut for those with HBO Max subscriptions, the fact that casting hasn’t been announced yet is probably a sign that we’re a ways off from seeing Hal Jordan and John Stewart bringing their rings to streaming. So long as it continues to survive HBO Max's content purges, waiting seems like the glass-half-full option.

Before that, though, TV fans can look forward to seeing the return of the HBO hit in the form of True Detective: Night Country, with Jodie Foster in the lead role.  

Nick Venable
Assistant Managing Editor

Nick is a Cajun Country native and an Assistant Managing Editor with a focus on TV and features. His humble origin story with CinemaBlend began all the way back in the pre-streaming era, circa 2009, as a freelancing DVD reviewer and TV recapper.  Nick leapfrogged over to the small screen to cover more and more television news and interviews, eventually taking over the section for the current era and covering topics like Yellowstone, The Walking Dead and horror. Born in Louisiana and currently living in Texas — Who Dat Nation over America’s Team all day, all night — Nick spent several years in the hospitality industry, and also worked as a 911 operator. If you ever happened to hear his music or read his comics/short stories, you have his sympathy.