“Why is the Green Lantern a white guy?”
As the media hype machine behind Warner Brother’s latest comic flick, The Green Lantern kicks into overdrive, a number of people have posed the question:
When did the Green Lantern become a white dude?
The question stems from the long-running and superbly written Justice League & Justice League Unlimited (JLU) cartoons.
In the cartoons, the Green Lantern’s name is John Stewart. Stewart is a tough-as-nails badass with strong sense of duty, and an unshakeable moral compass. He’s also the only black member of the team (until JLU).
Again, why’s the movie Lantern white?
There are thousands of Green Lanterns from all over the Universe. Each one is a member of the intergalactic police force, the Green Lantern Corps. There are four humans who wield Green Lantern rings:
- Hal Jordan
- John Stewart
- Guy Gardner
- Kyle Rayner
Hal Jordan was the first human Lantern, and he is the person Ryan Reynolds will play in the movies. Stewart was the second Lantern, the only black Lantern, and it’s worth noting, one of the first black super heroes.
It’s kind of a shame
I hadn’t thought about it until people started asking me why the Green Lantern is white, but for most people who grew up in the last 25 years, the Green Lantern is John Stewart.
If you know the comics it makes a lot of sense that Jordan is the movie Lantern, but looking back on the past two decades of comic-pop culture, Stewart is actually the better choice. Maybe he will get the War Machine treatment come sequel time.
Marc Bernardin wrote an op ed on the subject of Lanterns and race over at Comic Book Resources if you care to learn more.