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Allow Us to Explain: Why the Movie Green Lantern Is White

Let’s face it: we’re probably delivering a spiritual-minded homily to the large vocal ensemble here, but it has been brought to our attention that there may be a lot of people out there who saw the trailer for Green Lantern and are upset and confused about the fact that he’s being portrayed by a white actor.  Maybe you’re one of them. Maybe you’re not, but you know someone who is. This post is for you.

In A Nutshell

There have been a number of different men who have been the Green Lantern over time. But in the comics world, the accepted “original” Green Lantern is a guy named Hal Jordan, a white fighter pilot.  Created int the ’50s, he’s canonically a founding member of the Justice League, and it’s usually his absences that allow writers to bring another human Lantern (Like John Stewart, his first replacement) to the fore.

John Stewart is a retired black marine who was already in the Lantern Corps when he was promoted to Green Lantern of Earth in the 80’s when Hal Jordan quit for a while. You might be familiar with him because he was the Green Lantern that the makers of Justice League chose to feature in their cartoon series, to keep the League from being lily white (with one green dude).  It would be mostly unfair to call his character token, though.  Characterization was excellent all around in the series.  Plus, interracial dating!

This makes him the most visible Green Lantern outside of comic books… uh… ever.  Pretty much.  So we don’t blame you!  We’re big fans of the Justice League cartoon, and therefore of John Stewart, but in comics canon he’s unfortunately a back up Lantern.

Not In a Nutshell

The first Green Lantern was Alan Scott, who wore a damaged ring without ever knowing about the extraterrestrial space police who had created it.

The second Green Lantern was Hal Jordan.  He was a founding member of the Justice League and has been the most honored (and reviled, during a serious bout of villainy) Green Lantern born on Earth.

John Stewart was promoted to Green Lantern of Earth when Hal Jordan quit.

Guy Gardner was an emotionally unstable jerk who had to be coldcocked by Batman a few times.

Kyle Rayner was chosen to be a Green Lantern because his experience with fear would allow him to resist the entity Parallax (which, by the way, is going to appear in the movie).

PS: We’re not going to suggest that DC would never (intentionally or unintentionally) white-wash a character.  We’re just going to say that this isn’t an example of it.

PPS: John Stewart is likely to appear in cameo.

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Susana Polo thought she'd get her Creative Writing degree from Oberlin, work a crap job, and fake it until she made it into comics. Instead she stumbled into a great job: founding and running this very website (she's Editor at Large now, very fancy). She's spoken at events like Geek Girl Con, New York Comic Con, and Comic Book City Con, wants to get a Batwoman tattoo and write a graphic novel, and one of her canine teeth is in backwards.