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A Serious Dilemma: The Green Lantern

August 2, 2012

This was originally going to be part of two issues regarding superpowers/heroes I’ve been thinking of recently.  However the second one started to get fairly intense so I’ve broken it into two parts.

The other night, I was thinking about superheroes and movies, and the recent Batman film, and I somehow started thinking about Green Lantern. Largely when I thought back to the Green Lantern film, I was just struck with the question of what the hell they were trying to actually do. What was the point of it all?

My conclusion was basically the same as it was a year ago, but I got distracted by a curious thought. I suddenly imagined what a meeting involving a bunch of executives, writers, and producers, would have sounded like if they were trying to present a more realistic version of the Green Lantern. This was amusing in my brain until I stumbled upon a fairly serious question that I imagine one of the executives just blurting out.

Why would we ever trust Green Lantern?*

At first glance, it all sounds pretty legitimate. Green Lantern is part of the Green Lantern Corps, an intergalactic police organization who are granted powers based on their great sense of moral character. These powers are the ability to manifest their will and imaginations upon the world via some sort of hard light projection that can be as strong or weak as they can imagine it to be. For example, within the comics, we see that a Green Lantern’s power ring can blast holes in space faring vessels and also catch people falling from buildings. Overall though, it’s a pretty damn powerful weapon to be in the hands of someone who is granted this power with little to no screening process.

Of course, we might be inclined to trust Green Lantern because he is a space cop. We can disregard that his authority is derived from little blue men on Oa that no one on Earth is able to contact, or in many cases that he hasn’t contacted, because his job is to police space. Green Lantern is here to protect Earth from intergalactic problems. If space aliens were trying to abduct Earthlings or steal the moon or whatever, that’s what Green Lantern is for. In theory, he might as well live on an asteroid for all the importance he’s supposed to play in the day-to-day life of humanity.

Yet, he keeps showing up on Earth and beating up criminals and imposing justice based on his own morals. The morals remember, that allowed him to be imbued with his powers to begin with. Let’s also remember, whether or not it is known to the general populace, that the bearer of a power ring is the best candidate that is closest to the previous Lantern. They are not necessarily the best overall candidate, they are merely the best candidate that is nearby. Of course, we have no idea what the Green Lantern power ring, something that can travel through the depths of space, terms “nearby,” so I suppose it’s unfair to suggest that maybe Guy Gardner isn’t the best humanity has to offer.**

The instant Green Lantern started screwing around outside of his jurisdiction, I imagine we’d be a little more scrutinizing of this guy. Remember, while he has a uniform, his claims are pretty hard to substantiate. The ring seeks out people of strong moral character? It was forged by space aliens who took it upon themselves to be the police of the universe? It allows you to do whatever you can imagine?

I don’t know about you, but a Green Lantern makes me sort of uncomfortable.

Still, maybe, just maybe we’ll say, “You know what? This Green Lantern guy is a pretty cool dude, and has helped out a lot. Perhaps our mistrust was unwarranted.”

Then, well, what happens when we learn about Sinestro?

Now you’re telling me that one of these incorruptible Green Lanterns actually conquered his home world and no one noticed for decades because there’s no Green Lantern oversight committee? Wait, so there’s no Green Lantern handbook, Green Lanterns can police pretty much however the hell they feel like because of cultural relativism? So those little blue guys that made the rings aren’t like, active leaders of the Green Lantern Corps?


So why do we trust Green Lantern again?



*: This is of course barring the obvious answer, “suspension of disbelief.”
**: Though the three to five other Human Lanterns might suggest that it is totally fair.


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