The Untold Truth Of Guy Gardner: The Bad Boy Green Lantern

Within the world of DC Comics, there is perhaps no peacekeeping force more widespread than that of the Green Lantern Corps. Literally fueled by willpower, those recruited by the Corps tend to be some of the strongest heroes from their respective planets. When it comes to human Green Lanterns, the first one you're likely to think of is Hal Jordan, followed by the likes of Jon Stewart and Kyle Rainer. However, a fan favorite for many is the rogue of the Green Lantern Corps and everyone's favorite smartmouth, Guy Gardner.

It's admittedly not hard to see Guy's appeal, as he's usually equipped with a blunt and sassy attitude, complete with ample one-liners. So ahead of his impending big screen debut in "Superman: Legacy," we thought it appropriate to shine the spotlight on him. So charge up your lanterns and take flight, because this is the untold truth of Guy Gardner, the bad boy Green Lantern.

He'll be played by Nathan Fillion in Superman: Legacy

It's no surprise that Guy Gardner is a name on everyone's lips right now, especially considering his impending big-screen debut. In the wake of James Gunn's takeover of the DC Movie Universe, the first project slated for this new era is "Superman: Legacy." Directed by Gunn himself, starring David Corenswet and Rachel Brosnahan as Superman and Lois Lane, the film is set to kick off DC's new cinematic era.

Following the casting of Superman and Lois, however, a few more names were announced for key roles in the film's lineup. This includes Nathan Fillion, a James Gunn regular, stepping into the boots of Guy Gardner. This casting makes a lot of sense, especially considering Fillion's history with Green Lantern. Aside from being a frequent fan casting online, he's also lent his voice to Hal Jordan's Green Lantern on a few occasions.

So the fact he'll finally get to bring another Lantern to life is not only incredibly appropriate but well-earned. Given Fillion's experience with both "Firefly" and "The Rookie," he'll have no issue throwing some punches and cracking one-liners.

His design has roots in British television

You can never be sure where inspiration is going to strike in regard to a character's design, as it can truly come from anywhere. It's not uncommon for many comic creators to cite certain figures of the real world and live-action actors as influential for their characters. For example, one can easily see the similarities between Tony Starks and real-life billionaire inventor Howard Hughes. Guy Gardner is no exception to this, as was revealed by one of the artists behind the character in an interview with Joe Staton in Back Issue.

Staton noted that Gardner's character design was heavily influenced by British television, specifically a show titled "The Jewel in the Crown." He's modeled after Major Ronald Merrick, played by Tim Pigott-Smith, who's also had roles in "Doctor Who, as well as "V for Vendetta." Per Staton, "He was a tough officer who felt he'd been denied his entitlements. I related this resentment to Guy's and I kept him in mind for Guy's look." If you've followed the character of Guy Gardner for a while, then this description probably feels incredibly accurate. It just goes to show that visual inspiration can leap out from the most unexpected of places.

He had an abusive family

Comic books, especially superhero ones, have never shied away from tackling some heavier topics within their printed pages. Amongst the spandex and laser eyes have been stories involving drug abuse, sexual assault, and even intense political matters.

In that same vein, Guy Gardner has been no stranger to darker moments, especially in relation to his backstory. Born in Baltimore, Guy was raised by his parents, Roland and Peggy Gardner, in a living situation that can charitably be called unpleasant. It seemed that no matter how hard Guy worked in and out of school, he could never gain the love of his father. That praise and affection was instead reserved for his older brother, Mace, who went on to become a police officer.

Guy was also subject to physical abuse at the hands of his father, a belligerent alcoholic, resulting in several scars, both emotional and physical. This led Guy down a path of juvenile delinquency, constantly going against anything his father and his brother stood for. However, it was Mace who would eventually set Guy on the right path, helping him get his life back on track. It's a far darker and more relatable backstory than one would conceive of when first laying eyes on Guy Gardner.

Steve Englehart regrets updating the character

Guy Gardner was created by John Broome and Gil Kane back in the '60s for the then-current "Green Lantern" title. However, he was a far cry from the leading man he became much later, serving more as a supplemental side character.

It wasn't until the late '80s that writer Steve Englehart and artist Joe Staton were put in a position to retool and reboot the character. At the time, the duo were put on the "Green Lantern" title and opted to go in a rather unexpected direction. At the time, the leading Lantern was Jon Stewart and Englehart wasn't interested in slotting him into the backup role he'd been in previously. So they decided to dust off the character of Guy Gardner and have him work alongside Stewart throughout the series. This is where many of Gardner's most memorable traits, including his now iconic design, began to take shape.

Unfortunately, this is a decision that Englehart actually regrets, as he explained in an interview with "Back Issue." He noted that "ever since, DC has claimed that since Joe and I didn't create the original Guy Gardner, our completely new take counts for nothing. If I had called the new guy Joe Smith we would have earned major royalties, but as it is, we get nothing, and we get dissed by the people we helped. So adding it all up, I wish I hadn't done it."

He was originally Hal Jordan's backup

When Guy Gardner began his fictional existence within the pages of "Green Lantern," he was far different than how he's presented today. First introduced in "Green Lantern" #59 back in 1968, Gardner was revealed to have been the second choice for Earth's resident Green Lantern. After Abin Sur, a legendary Green Lantern, crash-landed on Earth, his ring sought out Hal Jordan, kicking off the test pilot's long tenure as the planet's protector. However, it seems the ring's consciousness had two potential candidates, and the alternate option was none other than Guy Gardner.

Unfortunately for Guy, with Hal being closer to Abin's crash site, the ring opted to pick Hal Jordan over him, and the rest is history. However, Guy's potential wouldn't go unrecognized by the Guardians of Oa, and he was made Earth's backup Green Lantern just in case Hal was killed in action.

Despite being very different in terms of attitude, Hal and Guy ended up becoming good friends after their initial meeting. Sadly, several tragic incidents, including a stint in the Phantom Zone, left Guy with brain damage, resulting in a prolonged comatose state. Guy remained in a coma — at least, until Steve Englehart and Joe Staton rebooted the character following their takeover of the "Green Lantern" ongoing series.

His romance with Ice

Nothing beats an in-universe superhero romance, as they are often a source of both ample drama and much-needed levity. From Mister Miracle's marriage with Big Barda to Batman's on-and-off relationship with Catwoman, comics have no shortage of crazy couples. Guy Gardner is no stranger to Cupid's arrow, as he too had a thing for one of his super-powered cohorts.

That would be Ice, a snow-based superhero hailing from Norway who served as a key member of Justice League International. The two, despite being polar opposites, developed feelings for each other and wound up infrequently dating throughout the book's run. This might've been due to the fact that when Ice met Guy, he had a brain injury that had changed his personality. Gone was his brash, conceited personality, replaced by a far sweeter and more approachable one.

Guy eventually got his old personality back — much to Ice's disappointment — but the duo kept dating regardless, eventually carving out a genuine romance. The two have seen many roadblocks in their relationship, often taking time apart from each other before eventually reuniting every so often. Despite his gruff exterior and his arrogant attitude, Guy does have a softer side that only Ice really gets to see.

He's been a Red Lantern

Late into its existence within DC Comics, the Green Lantern universe went in some truly gonzo directions in terms. This included the introduction of an entire rainbow spectrum of different colored Lantern Corps, all representing different emotions. One of the more deadly of these other Corps is the Red Lanterns, powered by pure seething anger and hatred. More often than not, a Red Lantern is typically a belligerent and bloodthirsty rage beast with blood spilling out of its mouth.

At one point, in the tradition of some Lanterns temporarily changing their colors, Guy Gardner became a Red Lantern for a little while. Following the defeat of the First Lantern, Guy is sent into the Red Lanterns undercover by Hal Jordan. Guy takes to this new role like a duck to water, mostly because maintaining his incandescent rage is basically the norm for him by this point.

Not that he doesn't embrace the ruthless side of the Red Lanterns, because he most definitely does, even going as far as to usurp the position of their leader, Atrocitus. This resulted in some infighting among the Red Lanterns, with Atrocitus leading his own splinter cells of Lanterns. Of course, this tenure under the red banner didn't last permanently, but it was still a nifty little part of Guy's ongoing history.

He's technically the first live-action Green Lantern

Did you know there was actually an attempt at a Justice League movie all the way back in the late '90s? Released on CBS in 1997, "Justice League of America" was intended as a feature-length pilot episode for a full-fledged television series. However, plans for a series never materialized and given the state of the final product, it's not hard to see why.

Firstly, the League's main trio – Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman – are noticeably absent from this version of the team. Secondly, not only does the film adopt an annoying faux-documentary style, but the special effects are laughable even by the standards of the late '90s.

In this Dollar Tree version of the League, Guy Gardner is the resident Green Lantern, making him the first time a Lantern was adapted in live-action. However, if you weren't given his name, you likely wouldn't even recognize the character as Guy. Here, the bad boy of the Lantern Corps is instead a software salesman when he's not on duty. Matthew Settle, likely best known as Rufus Humphrey on "Gossip Girl," does his best with the part but cannot salvage this utter misfire of a TV movie. So the next time you feel like dunking on 2011's "Green Lantern," just remember that it can always be worse.

He's had multiple animated appearances

From "Batman: The Animated Series" to "My Adventures with Superman," DC has put out some supremely entertaining animated content. This alternate venue has also helped provide time in the spotlight for characters who don't always get their time to shine in the comics. This includes Guy Gardner who, although far from a C-lister, often finds himself pushed aside in favor of whatever Hal Jordan is up to.

Guy has actually had quite a few animated appearances, starting with "Batman: The Brave and the Bold," where he was voiced by James Arnold Taylor. Taylor is best known for providing the voice for Obi-Wan Kenobi throughout the entirety of "Star Wars: The Clone Wars." Guy also had appearances on "Young Justice," voiced by Troy Baker, who many will recognize as the Joker from "Arkham Origins" and Joel Miller from "The Last of Us."

Last but certainly not least is "Green Lantern: The Animated Series," one of the best introductory pieces of media for anyone interested in the Green Lantern mythos. Guy is played here by Diedrich Bader, the voice of Batman in "Batman: The Brave and the Bold," pouring as much annoying bravado into the role as possible. Regardless of the animation style or the voice used, Guy Gardner has more than carved out a substantial legacy for himself in the DC animated universe.

He's a founding member of Justice League International

Throughout the history of DC Comics, there have been a few variants of the Justice League formed by various superheroes. There has been the Justice Society, Justice League Dark, Justice League 3000, and, most relevant here, Justice League International.

Following the dissolution of the original JLA in the late '80s, Justice League International was created as an enterprise for more secondary characters. This included the likes of Martian Manhunter, Booster Gold, Black Canary, Dr. Light, Blue Beetle, and Guy Gardner. Not only was Guy a founding member but "Justice League International" is where much of Guy's personality as we know it today began to take shape. Guy's often grating attitude resulted in some seriously hysterical moments, especially when he'd butt heads with Batman.

This is also where Guy first met Ice, a snow-based Norwegian hero, with whom he'd forge an inconsistent but very affectionate romance. If you're a big fan of Guy Gardner, do yourself a favor and crack open some old "JLI" volumes. Not only is Guy a major highlight but the book, even several decades later, still stands out as a stellar series.

He wasn't a Green Lantern for a while

It's not uncommon for some comic book characters, especially superheroes, to go through a gimmick change. Who could forget Captain America's cringeworthy stint as Nomad, where he wore a cape and exposed his bare chest?

This example isn't nearly as embarrassing as that, but it's still very much an oddity within Guy Gardner's character arc. For a period of time in the early '90s, Guy surrendered his Green Lantern ring following a one-on-one fight with Hal Jordan. This led Guy on a journey of reinvention where he eventually gained a yellow Sinestro Corp ring to regain his old abilities. After the ring fizzles out on him, Guy finds a new power source in the chalice of the Warrior Water, which activates alien DNA dormant in his bloodline.

Contrived retcons aside, this tenure as Warrior provided Guy ample character development, especially in terms of reckoning with his difficult childhood. Thanks to some help from the Spectre, Guy was able to talk to his dead father, who apologizes for his various failings as a dad. Guy rejoined the Green Lantern Corps later on down the line, but this stint of soul-searching and reinvention did a lot for him in the long run.