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Why HBO Max's Green Lantern Series Made The Right Choice To Shine Its Light On John Stewart

Warner Bros. Discovery has finally handed DC's reins to someone who knows their stuff. Two of them, in fact. From now on, James Gunn and Peter Safran will monitor all DC film and television productions, and their appointment has already come with some equally exciting announcements. For one, Henry Cavill is now set for a comeback as Superman. Two, Matt Reeves' Battinson-centric take on the Dark Knight is getting even more spin-off productions

This significant shake-up doesn't end on the streets of Metropolis and Gotham, though — it extends to the furthest reaches of space. Because right before the massive signing of DC's new Kevin Feige-like authority, one huge alteration that involved the slowly simmering HBO Max "Green Lantern" series took place. The show, initially set to focus on stubborn space cop Guy Gardner (Finn Witrock) and Golden Age Green Lantern Alan Scott (Jeremy Irvine), has pivoted, and the central protagonist will now be the legendary earth-based Lantern John Stewart (per The Hollywood Reporter).

One of the first Black heroes to adorn DC's comic book pages in 1972, John Stewart has, arguably, become just as much of a pop culture icon as Hal Jordan. However, while Jordan is a legend on the printed page (often referred to as the "greatest Lantern of them all"), his live-action debut was tarnished by the Ryan Reynolds film. Stewart, meanwhile, was turned into a household name thanks to his enduring presence in the realm of animation, to the point where for an entire generation of kids, he was their Green Lantern — a legacy that could make the live-action HBO Max series a force to be reckoned with.

John Stewart is the most well-known Green Lantern in popular culture

When the future of the live-action DC universe was hanging by the thread of the Flash's running shoes, it seemed like Green Lantern was the secret weapon that Warner Bros. wasn't putting into full effect. The decision for the series to focus on a lesser-known Lantern like Guy Gardner implied that the studio was holding off on the big gun characters.

Now, the fact that John Stewart will stand front and center is a gamechanger, which means the series could be just as important to the DCEU's future as any big-screen outing. 

Stewart's popularity wasn't always as huge as it is today. When first introduced, Stewart was essentially a backup Lantern for Hal Jordan. However, besides being enlisted into the Corps by Jordan, Stewart was his stand-in for the Justice League of America, where he became a recurring member in the following years. His prominence in DC's main super-team also transferred into animated form, earning a spot as a founding member of the Emmy-nominated "Justice League" and its sequel series, "Justice League Unlimited." His inclusion made Stewart an even more notable Lantern than even Jordan outside of comics, which is why it was a big deal that Zack Snyder wanted Stewart's Green Lantern to be teased in his version of "Justice League." This resumé is enough to warrant John Stewart's presence not just in the new "Green Lantern" series, but other upcoming DC movies and shows.

A Green Lantern show headed by Stewart could give the DCU more to say than ever before

Brief as it may be, there is a statement being made between The Rock and Aldis Hodge punching the carefully coordinated snot out of one another in "Black Adam." 

In the film, the JSA are met with tension by the people of Kahndaq for their unwelcome attempt at law and order. As the people argue, the JSA is not actually helping them break free from tyranny, so much as maintaining the status quo. While "Black Adam" only flirts briefly with these themes, though, future DC films could dive deeper, with "Green Lantern," being a perfect vehicle. A show centering on a peacekeeping space force whose main protagonist is trying to be "by the book" would make for great TV, particularly if a major part of Stewart's history in the comics is included.

The comic book iteration of Stewart, despite having an excellent and heroic reputation, once made a massive error that led to horrifying consequences: During his earlier Lantern years, he failed to stop the destruction of an entire planet. This mistake haunted him for years, even leading to somewhat justified conflicts with the planet's surviving inhabitants. 

Now, to be clear, enough heroic acts cleared his error over the years, eventually earning enough respect for him to be appointed head of the GLC. That said, such a narrative would be deeply compelling to tell on-screen, and is another reason the decision to focus on Stewart opens up more storytelling paths than the HBO Max series would have otherwise. 

Stewart's story could begin at the halfway point of Green Lantern history

Obi-Wan and Anakin, Rhaenyra and Alicent, Brian and Stewie. Seeing allies break over opposing ideals has made for some fantastic stories, and the Green Lanterns are bursting with them. Much like the Jedi in "Star Wars" — "Always two there are. A master and an apprentice." In the comics, Stewart had Jordan, and for Jordan, it was respected corpsman Thaal Sinestro (before the latter went full Vader and turned to the dark side ... er, yellow side).

If the show did bring us into this world using Stewart as our eyes and ears, this is the sort of lore for him to soak up and, more importantly, a legacy that will be placed on the shoulders of the newest hero to wear a ring. Doing so could allow Warner Bros. Discovery to apply a tactic that hasn't just proved beneficial for "Star Wars," but most recently with one of their own IPs: As ratings have confirmed for "House of the Dragon" have confirmed, audiences love worldbuilding, and the map that the Green Lantern mythos can chart spans galaxies and universes. "Green Lantern," particularly with Stewart in the driver's seat could also give Warner Bros. the ammunition to finally go to war with Marvel, using one of their epic battle-heavy story arcs that have more than just Green Lanterns on the line.

The Sinestro Corps War could be the DC story worth fighting for

No matter your stance on the possibly now-dead world that is the Snyderverse, it's clear that Gunn and Safran have a lot of work in terms of damage control. Heroes have been rehired, speedsters have given public statements for past behavior, and we may not have Ben Affleck's return as Batman stretching beyond "Aquaman: The Lost Kingdom." The DC universe needs a clean slate, so what's stopping it from being green-tinted and spawning from an "Infinity War"-level event?

Published in 2007, Geoff Johns' "Sinestro Corps War" story arc saw the titular terror form his own corps and go after those he was formerly allied with. The event saw heroes and villains, not all of whom were ring-wearers, take to the battlefield and could be the perfect blueprint to expand upon a DC universe that's under new management, in the same way as how Gunn's own "Guardians of the Galaxy" was a blockbuster-built segment of Thanos' plans for the universe. 

So, could John Stewart's induction into the emerald order of heroes work on the same principle? Whatever the future of Warner Bros. Discovery's prized property might look like, having Stewart as a growing green beacon to help reignite it certainly feels like the first in a selection of good choices to build something greater.