It's been confirmed by multiple sources that Warner Bros. will provide a sneak peak of their upcoming slate of DC Comics films at San Diego Comic-Con this Saturday, and there are dozens of rumors flying around speculating as to what exactly such a presentation would entail. It's widely rumored that DC will unveil their entire Justice League roster to the masses for the first time this weekend, along with a possible reveal of their new Green Lantern. Fans are now convinced that Chris Pine will be introduced to the world as Hal Jordan, the first human member of the Green Lantern Corps. But if additional rumors prove true and multiple Lanterns are indeed announced, the second ring bearer will almost certainly be John Stewart, DC Comics' first black superhero.
Any John Stewart casting rumors you've heard of late have almost certainly centered around either Idris Elba (and the overwhelmingly positive fan response his casting would illicit) or Tyrese Gibson (and the largely negative response his would). Before we head into our list of other potential candidates, let's take one last look at Gibson and Elba, starting with the latter.
It seems everyone and their mother wants this 42 year old Brit to bring john Stewart to life on the big screen. The 6'3 actor has the look, the charm, and the skill; so what's the problem? Believe it or not, minor hangups for this bit of dream casting do exist. Despite having received MAYBE five minutes of total screen time in his three appearances as Heimdall, Elba is still very much a member of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. He's expected to return to the role for Thor: Ragnarok in 2017, and never before has an actor appeared in two comic book universes simultaneously, likely because of non-compete contract clauses. Couple that with the actor's busy work schedule—Elba is set to appear in seven non-Marvel movies over the next two years, possibly including a villainous turn in Star Trek 3 —and the question of availability becomes more of an outright roadblock. While Elba has previously expressed interest (!!!!!) in portraying Stewart, it may not even be a possibility at this point.
Now what indeed. Let's take a look at Mr. Gibson.
Superhero castings have been a source of outrage and dissent in the online community for a while now, but this one would probably take the cake. Ever since Gibson began openly campaigning for the role of John Stewart back in January, public backlash has been swift and unkind. Opponents to his casting have been quick to point out his lacking film resume, as well as his perception as an unintentionally comedic actor. His audition tape for Quentin Tarantino's Django Unchained was widely mocked and received particularly scathing reviews. But, all criticisms aside, Gibson appears primed to be the latest addition to the DC Expanded Universe, if his social media accounts are to be believed. He has the look, he's played military-types before (to varying degrees of success) and he brings a monstrous fan base along with him. Perhaps he's learned from past failures and is ready to take the next step towards legitimacy as an actor. Perhaps not; all comic fans can do is hope.
And fancast! DC may have two perceived front runners in mind for John Stewart, but perhaps they can still be nudged in a different direction. With that, let's take a look at ten other potential candidates for the role (in no particular order).
Parker was touted as "the next Denzel Washington" after his starring turn in the 2007 period drama The Great Debaters. But despite consistent, occasionally brilliant work over the last eight years, true superstardom has eluded him to this point. But make no mistake, Parker's career can take off into the stratosphere at any moment, given the right opportunity. He's that good. His 5'9 frame may be a deterrent for some, but the magic of movies have made Tom Cruise look like a normal-sized adult for more than 30 years. This is a non-issue. Parker's height may in fact make for a more interesting visual aesthetic when standing alongside his fellow Justice Leaguers. At the end of the day, if the DCEU wants to compete with the MCU, they have to bring in top-end talent to help bring their projects to life. Parker could very well be their next breakout star.
Damon Wayans Jr.
The former New Girl star has exclusively appeared in comedic roles thus far in his career. So why is he on this list? An argument this writer has been forced to make more than once seems relevant here: actors, at their core, are people that are paid to pretend to be other people. So just because they haven't played a specific character-type before doesn't mean they can't. Wayans has an indefinable magnetism to him; that elusive "it" factor is obvious in nearly everything he does. He looks the part, for sure, and has an authenticity to him that happens to be a highly underrated and entirely necessary attribute for an actor playing a superhero. The 32 year old appears poised for big things, and DC would be wise to snatch him up while they still can.
Another star on the rise, Byers burst on the scene last year playing Andre Lyon, the bipolar son of a hip-hop mogul, on Fox's breakout hit/ratings monster Empire. His portrayal of one of the more complex characters on the small screen quickly earned him a role in the historical drama Selma, and will undoubtedly continue to open doors for the 31 year old actor. And should his commitment to the show lead to scheduling issues, fear not: Andre Lyon is among the most suicidal characters on TV. A true family tragedy seems right up Empire's alley, and would actually bring some serious stakes to the show. Quick side note: Byers' Twitter page happens to feature a close up of Henry Cavill's Superman suit. It seems safe to assume he's a DC fan.
Speaking of Selma, the man who brought Martin Luther King Jr. to life has to be considered a top candidate for this list. Oyelowo has been busy these last few years, appearing in both historical dramas like The Butler and Lincoln as well as popcorn flicks like Jack Reacher and Rise of the Planet of the Apes. The lone consistency in his work has been the quality of it; he's been nominated for seemingly every award except an Oscar. It's beyond contention that Oyelowo is a tremendously talented actor. Tack on a few pounds of muscle in the gym and bam, you've got yourself one hell of a Green Lantern. Despite telling The Wrap that he will "tread with caution around the notion of [superhero] characters," for fear of his career being pigeon-holed as a result, a timely and sorely-needed character like John Stewart could just change his mind.
Another veteran of the stage and screen, Ali has registered supporting roles in films like The Curious Case of Benjamin Button and Hunger Hames: Mockingjay - Part 1, but is probably best known for his portrayal of Remy Danton in Netflix's House of Cards. He has the look, the voice, and the talent to give John Stewart a commanding on-screen presence—he just needs the opportunity.
You've likely come across this name in fancasts before, so no points for originality here. Hardwick's career has had its ups and downs, but his work in Ava DuVernay's Middle of Nowhere and the Starz series Power are the truest examples of Hardwick's potential as an actor. At 41, Hardwick is one of the older candidates on this list, but is unquestionably one of the best fits for the role. Few would speak against his casting.
Another obvious candidate for the role of John Stewart is Rob Brown, who's enjoyed a steady if unspectacular career since his breakout role in Gus Van Sant's 2000 drama Finding Forrester. One of the more gifted actors working today, Brown could prove a natural fit for the stern, yet warmhearted Marine veteran.
BAM! Just when you thought you were going to be lulled to sleep by another by-the-numbers fancast, a man known mostly for his comedic roles appears and you suddenly want to punch your computer/phone screen. But before you completely lose it, take a hard look at that picture above. Granted, you probably only know Glover from his role as Troy "Buttsoup" Barnes on Community or by his hip-hop alter ego Childish Gambino, but the 31 year old appears poised to show the world his true range in Ridley Scott's sci-fi film The Martian, which is set to hit theaters later this year. What was said earlier for Damon Wayans Jr. goes double for Glover: he may not have much experience in more serious roles, but his potential as an artist is beyond question. He's a dedicated comic book nerd, he's yet to give an underwhelming performance in anything he's done, and his voice isn't nearly as whiny as you're imagining it is. Glover is a legitimate talent poised for a stardom; it's a question of when, not if.
Should the creative minds behind the DCEU decide to go young for John Stewart, the 21 year old James would be a great selection. With appearances in Selma and When The Game Stands Tall under his belt, James may have gotten his big break by signing on to replace John Boyega (a near miss for this list himself) in the Jesse Owens biopic Race, which will arrive in theaters next spring. The decision to cast such a young actor may be off-putting to some, but John Stewart isn't necessarily a character that's defined by his age. A marine/architect in his early twenties who wields one of the most powerful weapons in the universe could prove to be just as formidable as one in his mid to late thirties.
A veteran of the small screen, Hodge has appeared in over 30 different television series despite being only 28 years old. His upcoming portrayal of MC Ren in this summer's NWA biopic Straight Outta Compton could very well pave Hodge's path to success on the big screen. Should the drama become a hit, Hodge will demand consideration for a multitude of roles, though few likely bigger than John Stewart. Hodge would be a strong choice, possibly even a safe one.
A Bit of Wishful Thinking...
Chiwetel Ejiofor and Michael B. Jordan
Yeah yeah yeah, Ejiofor is signed on to play Baron Mordo in Doctor Strange and Jordan is playing Johnny Storm in The Fantastic Four reboot due out in a few weeks. But both are tremendously talented actors that happen to be perfect fits for John Stewart. Strange doesn't start production until November, so a lot can happen between now and then. Actors drop out of roles for unspecified reasons all the time. As for Jordan, the only chance he'll have of stepping in to play Green Lantern is if Fantastic Four outright bombs (read: unlikely). Again, no one is claiming these two to be legitimate contenders, they're simply wishful thinking.