It’s a great time to be a fan of Green Lantern, who’s the basis of four titles from DC Comics, had a terrific movie last summer and will get his own animated series on Cartoon Network in early 2012.
And putting icing on the cake is a fan film written, produced and directed by Michael A. Thompson, who also portrays the African-American Green Lantern named John Stewart in a live-action version of the animated Justice League Unlimited TV series.
The independent production starts with Plastic Man (Dan Friedman) telling fellow Justice Leaguers Blue Beetle (Donald McKinney), Aquaman (Daerick Gross) and the Flash (Dennis Luciani) he’d heard that Stewart is quitting the team.
The super-heroes dismiss the claim, and Aquaman tells Plastic Man not to listen to any more rumors.
However, Clark Kent (John Patrick Kelly) and Bruce Wayne (Dino Vincencio) track down Stewart, who’s alone in his apartment with all the lights off.
“Why haven’t you responded to any of our calls?” Wayne asks. “We need to talk about this.”
“There’s nothing to talk about,” Stewart replies. “The decision has been made: endgame.”
Kent states that Stewart can’t quit because he’s “too valuable, too powerful. We need you.”
“I’m not powerful anymore,” Stewart says. “I’m useless; I’m a liability. I almost got Shayera killed! I’m done.”
Green Lantern is referring to Shayera Hol, who has a double identity as Hawkgirl and is a fellow member of the Justice League.
Stewart then tells the world’s finest heroes that Hol is pregnant and states they all know how hard it was for him when Vixen (whose secret identity was Mari Jiwe McCabe and portrayed by Adriane McLean) was killed.
In a flashback, Stewart and Mari were enjoying a quiet dinner, and Green Lantern didn’t just have his own power ring, he had an engagement ring he was going to bring out when he proposed to her.
But before that could happen, they received a call to investigate a disturbance caused by the murderous Deathstroke the Terminator (also Daerick Gross).
Stewart waved his ring over his body to change his clothes into his Green Lantern costume (a cool touch, I thought), and Mari quickly put on her Vixen costume.
However, the villain used a silver airship with weapons that quickly injured both heroes and cut off all communication so they couldn’t summon backup.
In order to give Green Lantern time to recharge his ring, Vixen (who had a totem that enabled her to access characteristics of any animal) raced into the open using the speed of a cheetah to distract Deathstroke.
She dodged several deadly rays but was eventually struck by the Terminator’s powerful weapon, which blew her half a mile away at such a rapid speed that she died.
Soon after, each member of the League paid his or her final respects to Vixen. Green Lantern was obviously shaken by his loss, but Hawkgirl comforted him by promising to be there if he needed her.
Back in his apartment, Stewart tells Kent and Wayne that he found out about Hol’s pregnancy two nights earlier, and his emotions pulled him in several different directions.
Not long after that, Green Lantern and Hawkgirl received a message that Sinestro (an alien villain with a yellow power ring and played by Josh Babich) “was up to his old tricks again.”
The heroes got separated, and Hawkgirl found the enemy first. When Sinestro hurled beams of yellow energy at her, the heroine used her Nth metal mace to deflect them and even got a few punches in before the villain harnessed his ring’s energy to try to overload her weapon.
Stewart then stated that he attacked Sinestro, but his mind was fixated on becoming a father, so he used his ring to generate a pacifier and a diaper as weapons against his foe.
“Sinestro realized my mind wasn’t right,” Stewart says, “and he took advantage of it, took me down in one shot.”
But when Hawkgirl tried to help Green Lantern, Sinestro fired another bolt and struck her in the back.
Spoiler Alert: If you’d rather watch the ending yourself, go down to the link at the end of my review, or if not, continue reading.
Stewart then tells his fellow heroes that both Shayera and their baby will be fine.
At this point, Wayne stands up and tells Stewart he can sit around feeling sorry for himself “or you can get up and finish the job.”
Kent agrees, noting that “when we put on the cape or the cowl or the ring, it comes with a risk, and it also comes with a responsibility.”
After affirming that Stewart is still a hero, Kent suggests that he and his friends “put on our work clothes and get that turd.”
With Superman and Batman standing before him, Stewart again waves his ring to change his clothes into his Green Lantern outfit.
“I think he’s back,” Superman says.
“Yeah,” Batman adds, “he’s back.”
Soon after, Sinestro is found causing mischief by drying up the water supply to a dam with his yellow power ring. However, Batman arrives and tosses a Batarang at the villain, who easily brushes it aside.
“Another Justice Leaguer,” Sinestro states smugly. “At this rate, I’m going to single-handedly take you all down, and you are no match for me, Caped Crusader.”
“Oh, I’m not here to battle you,” the Dark Knight responds. “My job was to find you.”
At that moment, Superman flies in and lands in front of Sinestro. “I’m not here to fight you either,” he says. “My job is to make sure you don’t get away.”
“Get away from who?” the villain asks.
“From me!” Green Lantern shouts as he tackles his foe. The enemies duke it out using constructs made by their rings for a while, but Stewart finally gets an opening and takes Sinestro out with a rapid series of punches.
Superman and Batman then offer to take the villain into custody so Green Lantern can visit Hawkgirl in the hospital.
“When I woke up, you weren’t there,” Shayera says in her hospital bed. “I was worried.”
“I’m fine,” Stewart replies. “I just had to tie up some loose ends.”
“Did you get him?” she asks.
“Oh, yeah,” he states.
“Any trouble?” Shayera asks.
“No,” Stewart notes. “My family had my back.”
“Did you really say ‘Endgame?’” she asks.
“Y’know, sometimes Batman talks too much,” he grumbles before broad smiles emerge on their faces.
The fan film ends with Stewart reciting the GL oath:
“In brightest day, in blackest night,
no evil shall escape my sight!
Let those who worship evil’s might
beware my power, Green Lantern’s light!”
And with that, it’s time for me to put on a green Clint Eastwood hat and get reviewing.
The Good: It’s not often that an animated series becomes a live-action adventure, but “Endgame” makes the transition very smoothly. The story is clever while exploring the heroes’ characters, and there are plenty of excellent special effects. I also loved the costumes and make-up: Sinestro has rarely looked better.
The Bad: It’s always hard to put real wings on Hawkgirl if you’re not using computer-generated effects, so it came as no surprise that she wore a set of cardboard replicas. Still, what could have been a real distraction was handled pretty well through the use of clever camera angles throughout the production.
The Ugly: This is one of the few times since I began writing Fan Film Friday in July of 2009 that I’m able to review an independent production featuring an African-American hero and created by a group headed by an African-American film-maker. I hope the success of this project will encourage more diversity regarding this kind of effort in the future.