Green Lantern: Beware My Power
I’ve delayed talking about Green Lantern: Beware My Power because I didn’t really want to watch it. I’m not the audience for these cartoon movies, as they seem to prioritize fights, violence, and the occasional profanity over superhero fun and excitement. (There’s an S-word within the first few minutes of dialogue. Justifies the PG-13 rating, I guess. Also shows us that our protagonist has PTSD.)
What I am the audience for are the extras. But more on that later.
This is an origin story for Green Lantern John Stewart (voiced by Aldis Hodge), written by John Semper and Ernie Altbacker and directed by Jeff Wamester. Spoilers may follow.
I’ve always liked this version of the Green Lantern character. He was in the Justice League cartoon, which means he’s the Green Lantern a lot of people grew up with. He’s deserved more attention, so more stories featuring him in media are long overdue.
Unfortunately, as is typical of these films, this is a serious, adult treatment (perhaps to show insecure superhero fans that it’s ok to still like them). Stewart is angry and confused because the ring has kidnapped him and given him powers without explaining anything.
He winds up in the Justice League satellite, where instead of thinking “he got through our defenses, maybe we should ask how and who he is”, Green Arrow (Jimmi Simpson), Vixen (Keesha Sharp), and Martian Manhunter (Ike Amadi) attack. (Later, when someone is actively declaring himself a god and talking about his plans to destroy the universe, that’s when they hold back and decide it would be a good time to talk. This movie has a lot of inconsistencies.)
When they discover that it’s Hal Jordan’s ring, Vixen finally says, “Maybe we should find out [what’s going on].” This somehow leads to a space voyage with GL, Hawkgirl (Jamie Gray Hyder), and Adam Strange (Brian Bloom). It vaguely reminded me of a low-budget Guardians of the Galaxy, with a bunch of randoms voyaging around space trying to figure out what happened to Oa.
The spoilers come in from this point — jump to the next heading to avoid them.
I didn’t like that they changed Stewart from an architect to a former Marine. I didn’t like the contradiction between his story arc being learning not to kill, and Green Arrow having to kill someone he cared about in order to save the universe.
John consoles him by saying, “We’re all forced to do things we don’t want to. We can’t beat ourselves up over it, so long as we do them for the right reasons.” I don’t think that’s as meaningful or valid a philosophy as the writers would like.
Also appearing in this story is Parallax. In the comics, I thought that was a clever idea. Superheroes are vigilantes who establish their own ideas of justice, so what if one of them was very wrong? The execution was terrible, but the idea wasn’t bad.
Here, the underlying idea is lost, and the execution is still bad. Mostly because we’re asked to believe that John is so strong-willed he can go against someone who took down over a dozen of the GL Corps. This story sets him up as the new Green Lantern in a way that makes everyone who likes the idea or the history hate him.
Also, during this segment, we see a naked Hal Jordan flying around through space, in case you’ve ever wanted to see cartoon GL butt.
I couldn’t force myself through all of this joyless movie, but I did enjoy the half-hour bonus feature, a mini-documentary called “John Stewart: The Power and the Glory”. In addition to the movie lead actor, writers, and producers, the following comic book and animation creators appear to talk about the origins of the character:
- Dave Gibbons
- Joe Staton
- Geoff Johns
- David F. Walker
- Phil LaMarr
- Christopher Priest
- Cully Hamner
- Robert Venditti
- Jim Lee
- Bruce Timm
They discuss the importance of having a prominent character of color, that he didn’t have “Black” in his name, what was going on when the character was created, and his choice not to wear a mask. There’s also a nice tribute to Dwayne McDuffie’s writing. It’s too bad we can’t get this kind of character analysis and documentary without having to sit through the lead feature.
Also on the disc are the two parts of the Justice League cartoon “In Blackest Night”. (The studio provided a review copy.)