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The Green Lantern TV series is dead. Long live the Green Lantern series.
After years of development and redevelopment, an HBO Max series based on the DC superheroes from Greg Berlanti, the longtime steward of DC’s TV shows, has been scrapped. In its place, a new series is being developed, titled Lanterns, which is acting as a foundational show under the plans from newly installed DC Studios heads, James Gunn and Peter Safran.
“Greg’s vision was more of a space opera that he wanted to do,” said Safran during a presentation of the new DC slate on the Warner Bros. Studios lot Monday. “Our vision is more True Detective, more of a terrestrial-based investigation story. We all agreed to part ways.”
In the works since at least 2019, Green Lantern was touted to be the most expensive DC show ever made, with multiple stories sprawling across time and space. One early version focused on original Lantern hero, Alan Scott, in a story set in the 1930s or 1940s, macho Lantern Guy Gardner in more modern times, and one set in the future featuring the character Sojourner Mullein.
Some of the players, Marc Guggenheim among them, had worked on 2011’s ill-fated Green Lantern movie that starred Ryan Reynolds. But this ambitious (and expensive) incarnation was scaled back into a version that focused on just Alan Scott, threading a socially conscious backstory of being gay in more conservative times, and Guy Gardner, still macho after all these years.
Seth Grahame-Smith was tapped to act as a showrunner and had written all eight episodes of the first season. And it even had its leads cast in Finn Wittrock and Jeremy Irvine.
But last year, before Gunn and Safran took over DC, even that was scrapped completely and all-new new direction decided upon (to focus on Black Green Lantern, Stewart). Grahame-Smith left.
It’s unclear how much has been sunk into a Green Lantern series, but sources say it’s deep into seven figures.
With Gunn and Safran, a new direction is once again being explored. Gunn described it as a “huge HBO TV style event” while Safran said it was a very important and foundational series for their slate.
“This plays a really big role in leading into the main story we are telling across film and TV,” Safran said.
And unlike the casting of the previous actors, who had little chance of seeing themselves on the big screen, the actors who will play the Lanterns will also carry those roles into theaters.
Using the example of John Cena, who played violent character Peacemaker in Gunn’s feature The Suicide Squad, then starred in HBO Max’s spinoff Peacemaker, Safran said, “Anyone we cast as John Stewart and Hal Jordan, they will then cross over into the movie side of things. That’s important to us. We don’t want the series to feel in any way like stepchildren or lesser than. It’s just another way to tell a story.”
The executives are looking forward to using the series format to explore and develop characters, in a way that the movie medium cannot.
“We had in incredible experience with Peacemaker to be able spend eight hours digging deep into the character,” said Safran. “Whereas in a movie you find yourself moving the story along. You don’t have that luxury to spend time with the characters like you would here.”
Gunn and Safran also teased that they were already talking to actors about Lanterns.
Berlanti has seen his DC shows, known mostly as the Arrowverse, scaled back dramatically in recent years, amid changes in studio leadership and the sale of the CW to Nexstar. He still has Superman & Lois on the air and the upcoming action series, Gotham Knights. It is unlikely that the megaproducer will continue to play a role in the new DC Studios.
“We have nothing currently in development with Greg,” said Safran.
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