In many ways, Green Lantern: Beware My Power is a love story. The latest DC Universe animated film features John Stewart transforming into Green Lantern and embarking on an intergalactic adventure alongside Green Arrow, Adam Strange and Hawkgirl. It’s a fun superhero romp with a dash of space opera thrown in, but I couldn’t help but gravitate to the story of John Stewart and his new relationship. Only this relationship wasn’t a romance with another Lantern or even another superhero, but a connection between John Stewart and his new Green Lantern power ring. If you’ve seen the movie, then you might know what I’m talking about. If you haven’t had a chance to watch it yet, then consider this your spoiler warning.
Green Lantern: Beware My Power completely changed the way I look at the Green Lantern Corps. I’ve always known their power rings were important, but comics and other pieces of media always seemed to treat them like nothing more than weapons or tools. A power ring had just as much agency as one of Batman’s batarangs or Green Arrow’s broadheads. You would never see Oliver have a witty conversation with his quiver or show Batman feeling an emotional loss after throwing one of his gas capsules. The Green Lantern power rings are different, though, and this movie perfectly demonstrates why.
First of all, the obvious—it’s a talking space ring that responds to your commands. Occasionally we’ll see the power rings talk in the comics, but it’s something that is usually glossed over. But let’s think about what that means. The Green Lantern power rings are capable of speaking, therefore we could have conversations with them. That means we can relate to them.
That’s exactly what happens to John Stewart in this film. His ring is more than a tool, it’s something he has a relationship with and that relationship evolves as the movie progresses. Initially, John rejects the ring and goes to great lengths to rid himself of it. He’s uncomfortable wearing it and takes every opportunity to tell all the heroes he encounters that he wants the ring gone.
Why is John reacting this way? While the film never comes out and directly says it, I think his initial rejection of the ring has everything to do with post traumatic stress. A series of flashbacks reveal that John served in the military and his memories are less than pleasant. In the present day, we see him trying to shake off his trauma, but it keeps bubbling to the surface, sometimes causing John to attack strangers. He doesn’t want to be anywhere near weapons or violence.
So, how does the power ring fit into that equation? It’s possible that John sees it as a weapon rather than a tool. The power ring can be deadly if it’s put in the wrong hands, and that’s just how John sees himself. After all, he’s attacking strangers in the street—how can he trust himself with a powerful cosmic ring? If you rewatch the movie with that in mind, John’s reactions to the ring begin to click.
Sadly, John’s fears aren’t unfounded. He almost loses control and kills Hawkgirl during their first confrontation. The ring tries to stop John and luckily, he’s able to snap out of it. Still, is it any wonder he’s so desperate to get the thing off?
It’s almost ironic that war is what traumatized John in the first place, while another war in outer space is what ultimately helps him heal. Someone is pulling the strings in an intergalactic skirmish between Rann and Thanagar. John helps to diffuse the conflict, and along the way, he begins to accept his power ring.
Like most relationships, the bonding’s a slow process. Slowly, John goes from wanting to be rid of the ring to finding excuses to keep it on. He tells Green Arrow that the ring can help end the Rann/Thanagar war. He begins having conversations with it—real conversations. In the first act of the movie, John’s chats with the ring are uncomfortable, hesitant and almost ineffective. They’re like those awkward first dates where nobody knows what to say to one another.
But by the middle of the movie their banter has improved. Yes, I said banter—John and the ring actually joke with one another. While flying to Rann, John begins to practice making constructs with his ring. The ring teases John by saying, “For a being who doesn’t want to be a Green Lantern, you show some ability.” John responds playfully, saying, “Just passing the time.” It’s a fun exchange between the two of them! Can you imagine Batman doing this with his utility belt?
Their relationship can also be tracked through the constructs John creates. During his early battles with the Justice League and Hawkgirl, John’s constructs are sloppy and don’t seem to resemble any real objects. By the end of the movie, he’s making fully realized weapons and using them against his enemies. The power ring seems to help John work through his trauma, and he’s able to fight evil without emotionally falling apart. The scars from his time in the military are still there, but now he knows how to live with them.
There are a lot of reasons to love Green Lantern: Beware My Power. It has some awesome twists that I’ve avoided spoiling here. It has cool space battles, great cosmic action, and it’s a non-stop thrill ride. But it’s also a great story about a man, a ring and the beautiful friendship they share.
Green Lantern: Beware My Power is now available on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Combo Pack, Blu-ray and Digital.
Joshua Lapin-Bertone writes about TV, movies and comics for DCComics.com, is a regular contributor to the Couch Club and writes our monthly Batman column, "Gotham Gazette." Follow him on Twitter at @TBUJosh.
NOTE: The views and opinions expressed in this feature are solely those of Joshua Lapin-Bertone and do not necessarily reflect those of DC Entertainment or Warner Bros.