EXCLUSIVE: It’s been seven years and seven months since the release of Green Lantern, but the film’s historic failure still glows brightly in the memory of Warner Bros executives and fans alike. That’s one reason the studio has struggled to decide how best to revamp a property that remains far too prominent in DC Comics lore to otherwise leave sitting on a shelf.
The latest word is that producer-writer Geoff Johns is working on a script that will reinvent Green Lantern, but the details are scant. If Johns is looking to the publishing history for inspiration there’s plenty of material — this year marks the 60th anniversary of the deep-space hero’s debut so there’s plenty of of mythology to chose from. But the most screen-ready version of the Emerald Crusader may actually be the very latest one.
Writer Grant Morrison and artist Liam Sharp have quickly seized the attention of comics fans with their energized revamping of the character. The third issue of their overhaul will hit stores later this week, but Deadline has an exclusive preview below with artwork that show Sharp’s command of both intricate cosmic grandeur and crisp visual storytelling.
Morrison is one of the most in-demand creators in television and comics but he took some time to talk to Deadline about the past, present and future of Hal Jordan, the fearless test pilot chosen to protect Sector 2814 by wearing the power ring that marks him as a member of the Green Lantern Corps.
DEADLINE: What were you most excited about when you came to the project? There’s been so many versions of the character but this one feels very in touch with the earliest years of the comics…
GRANT MORRISON: For me it was always going back to the beginning and the creators of the thing, Gardner Fox and John Broome, and the stories they did back in the 1960s. Especially John Broome, who kind of stuck with the character through that whole time and was himself a beatnik, I’ve always thought. I wanted to go back to his basic idea of Hal Jordan, who is someone he always saw as a guy who had his mind blown by being inducted into the Green Lantern Corps, this kind of universal police force. So he wrote him as kind of a humorless spaceman who has come back from the moon or orbit and kind of doesn’t quite understand the world anymore. I found that fascinating. He wrote Hal Jordan as a guy that doesn’t really hold a job or relate to things in the same way he did before he was taken away by this peak experience that changes his view of everything.
DEADLINE: The Green Lantern Corps has been portrayed as a sort of military organization almost in some past versions but in your interpretation he’s more like a Texas Ranger or a U.S. Marshal — he’s got more of a lone-wolf existence.
MORRISON: It’s quite a big thing to do to police the entire galaxy or the universe. There’s the entirety of the space and time universe available to chose from and monitor. So how would you go about doing something like that? And then here’s this representative of the Green Lantern Corps, Hal Jordan, and while he’s not entirely ordinary he’s still only best specimen that humanity has to offer. I tried to get into that aspect of it. What would it be like? How would he handle it? How would he be affected by the things he’s experienced and seen?
DEADLINE: There’s an aspect of Jordan that evokes The Right Stuff and its portrayal of Chuck Yeager and other test pilots pushing the envelope in a maverick sort of way. There’s a sense in your version of Jordan that seems to connect to that heritage and maybe yearns for something that’s missing from it…
MORRISON: Yeah, there’s a weird lost America you can see from the outside. To someone who like me or Liam who has lived in Scotland or the UK there was this Kennedy America where Americans were pioneers and going to the moon and possessing this science-fiction energy. And it’s been lost. In Green Lantern we get to play with that as a concept and almost as a satire. What did America think was going to happen in the 1960s and how is Hal Jordan a representative of that?
DEADLINE: Your collaborator, Liam Sharp, is cranking out some of the most stirring and ambitious artwork in recent DC Comics history. How would you frame your collaboration with him?
MORRISON: He’s just very imaginative. I took on the job only because Liam was going to do it. We had talked about working together and I knew it would go well. I’ve been throwing concepts at him and he’s way up to the challenge and beyond the challenge, really. What he’s doing is very reminiscent of the illustrative album covers of the 1970s. There’s a very old-school, lost direction that we are exploring here and revising that illustrative core of something that represented the past vision of the future.
DEADLINE: The solitary existence and the melancholy aspects of Jordan’s adventures in space would really lend itself to a screen version of the character. There’s an Old West-in-space rhythm to Jordan’s character that was completely absent from the feature film version of the hero.
MORRISON: I thought Ryan Reynolds was great but the movie probably should have ended sometime before he travels to Oa, the home planet of the Green Lantern Corps and the place where he meets all these other members of the Corps. With the stories we’re doing now we tried to approach as the story of this one person, who is a very specific human being and he’s not quite like the creators or artists that are doing it. He’s a spaceman from lost America and he is taking in this experience in a way that is disconnecting him from Earth.
DEADLINE: There’s been so many versions of Green Lantern and his look in the comics over the years. The Gil Kane version and the Neal Adams version, for instance, are chiseled into the minds of many fans…
MORRISON: Those two versions, as you say, the Kane and Adams versions, those are the ones that we chose to combine for the version we are doing now. Kane was doing Green Lantern almost as a ballet dancer, he was basing it on Rudolf Nureyev, he was a guy who didn’t need to be a muscle man to get his job done. He has a magic ring that he aims at things. Both Kane and Adams portrayed him as this very lean physique as opposed to the brawler physique of Superman or the martial arts physique of Batman.
DEADLINE: As a writer you have to identify with your characters but I don’t suppose you have to actually like them. With Hal Jordan, your disaffected spacemen, is he someone you would like to meet and hang out with?
MORRISON: Possibly. I think he’d be interesting if you’re in a room talking to him. I think he’d be very charismatic but would I like him. For me the interesting thing in working on Wonder Woman and now on Green Lantern is getting into characters that are quite unlike me. Trying to find common ground with this guy — I mean he’s a test pilot, he’s very cool, he’s got no fear, he rushes into things because he’s so good at everything that he can usually handle anything. That’s not me. He’s The Right Stuff guy, as you said, and he’s got the ego and confidence. In the continuity of DC Comics, too, this guy is weird. He’s lived, he’s died, he’s been reborn, he’s had these cosmic adventures and he’s got the psychology that he’s actually been able to handle all of that. A lot of the thing in superhero comics these days is about their trauma and P.T.S.D. and the fragility of superheroes. But Hal Jordan is beyond any of that. It’s a big challenge. What would he be like to talk to? He’s not the same as the rest of us.
Here’s exclusive preview of the third issue of The Green Lantern with the cover by Liam Sharp, an alternate cover by Jae Lee, and five pages of story written by Grant Morrison and drawn by Liam Sharp…