Op-Ed: Nathan Fillion Is the Green Lantern Ryan Reynolds Should Have Been

in DC, Op-Ed

green lantern ryan reynolds nathan fillion

Credit: Inside the Magic

Ryan Reynolds was the wrong choice for Green Lantern.

Green Lantern Ryan Reynolds
Credit: Warner Bros

We all know this at this point. Even Ryan Reynolds thinks that Green Lantern (2011) was a mistake, memorably lampooning it in the post-credits of Deadpool 2 (2018). That’s meaningful, coming from a guy unafraid of making an iconic comic book character look ridiculous.

But now James Gunn has decreed that his old pal Nathan Fillion will be the new DC Universe’s Green Lantern, debuting in the upcoming Superman: Legacy. Fillion as Guy Gardner will be that Ryan Reynolds as Hal Jordan should have been, and undoubtedly be a lot more fun.

At this point, even Ryan Reynolds knows he was hopelessly miscast as Hal Jordan, but Nathan Fillion is about as spot-on casting as anyone could ever hope.

But more than that, even if Nathan Fillion’s Green Lantern ends up being a minor character, his casting will fundamentally change the direction of the DCU.

Related: Audiences Think ‘The Flash’ Is as Bad as ‘Green Lantern’

Guy Gardner Is the Right Green Lantern, Right Now

guy gardner green lantern
Credit: DC Comics

Nathan Fillion has appeared in every movie that James Gunn has directed, from his queasy, upsetting comic book riff Super (2010) to his swan song in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 (2023). As such, it was a given that he would eventually show back up in the DC Universe in some way after The Detachable Kid was brutally gunned down in The Suicide Squad (2021).

His casting as Guy Gardner, the most human and goofy of all the heroes to bear the name Green Lantern, is proof that James Gunn is moving 180 degrees away from both the aloof, tragic tone Zack Snyder had striven for with his DC Extended Universe.

Just as importantly, it shows that James Gunn has an understanding of what DC Comics characters are about in a way that the Ryan Reynolds Green Lantern simply did not. As such, Nathan Fillion as Green Lantern is basically a way for the filmmaker to throw down the gauntlet and show what he’s about.

More importantly, Nathan Fillion as Guy Gardner is a way to show that the DC is not afraid to get stupid.

Stupid Is James Gunn’s Brand

The success of the Guardians of the Galaxy franchise in the Marvel Cinematic Universe proved there was an audience for James Gunn’s irreverently comedic, brutally violent, yet heartwarming version style. If the DC Universe is to differentiate itself from the confusing shamble of the DCEU, it needs to lean into that.

Nathan Fillion’s Green Lantern gives James Gunn every opportunity to lean into the idea of a fundamentally good-hearted but also pretty dumb and cocky hero that already worked for him so well with Chris Pratt’s Peter Quill, aka Star-Lord.

Chris Pratt as Star-Lord in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3
Credit: Marvel Studios

Guy Gardner has changed a whole lot since he was introduced in Green Lantern #59 (1968). Initially, the concept was that he was the Guardians of the Universe’s backup to Hal Jordan and not chosen by Abin Sur’s power ring simply because he was a little bit farther away at the time.

Related: James Gunn’s DCU Might Create An Overly Simplistic Franchise

However, his more familiar incarnation as a lovable jackass with a bowl cut comes from his portrayal in the 1980s, when he became a parody of macho superheroes. Over the decades, he has been a Green Lantern, a Vuldarian shapeshifter, and these days, a guy with a whole emotional spectrum of rings.

Undoubtedly, James Gunn will use Nathan Fillion in the 1980s version of the character, to give us a superpowered goofball to contrast with a more noble Superman (David Corenswet) and, let’s be honest, probably hit on Lois Lane (Rachel Brosnahan).

guy gardner green lantern
Credit: DC Comics

Nathan Fillion Plays Cockiness Better Than Anyone

Though Nathan Fillion is a very talented and multi-faceted actor, it cannot be denied that he is pretty great at playing a guy who is a little too sure of himself. At this moment, the DCU needs characters who have unwarranted strength of conviction (like John Cena’s Peacemaker) and skewed outlooks (like Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn) to contrast the ultra-seriousness of Black Adam (2022) and Justice League (2017).

Related: ‘Superman’ Skirts Past Future DC Disaster With Margot Robbie

Guy Gardner can do that.

It wasn’t really Ryan Reynolds’ fault that he was terrible at playing the best Green Lantern. But Nathan Fillion will be perfect at playing the stupidest one.


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