Real Name: John Stewart
Voiced by Phil LaMarr
A former U.S. Marine, John
Stewart was chosen by the Guardians of the Universe to join the Green Lantern
Corps, an intergalactic peacekeeping organization dedicated to protecting life throughout the
universe. Awarded an emerald ring
whose energies could be manipulated by his force of will, Stewart left Earth to
train under the watchful eye of veteran Green Lantern Katma Tui, where he proved
himself time and again to be an exceptional champion in countless missions that
have taken him across the cosmos. Later,
following the death of Green Lantern Abin Sur, John Stewart was chosen to become
the new Green Lantern of Sector 2814, a quadrant of space that included his
Cartoon Network on Green Lantern:
“John Stewart is a veteran member of the elite Green Lantern Corps, an
intergalactic peacekeeping force founded by the Guardians of Oa.
The Guardians provide each Green Lantern with a power ring that must be
recharged every 24 hours from a lantern-like power source.
Acting as the ultimate defensive weapon, the ring responds to mere
thought and can project powerful laser-like beams or impenetrable force fields.
Its emerald aura also protects the wearer from the harsh environs of deep
”Years ago, the Guardians of Oa recognized John Stewart’s potential for exceptional courage and heroism. Awarding him a power ring, they trained him to be the Green Lantern for Sector 2814, a quadrant of the galaxy that includes our own solar system. For more than ten years, John has patrolled the deepest reaches of space.
”Now, he has returned home to protect Earth as a member of the Justice League. Unfortunately, the hard-nosed military attitude that makes John an ideal Green Lantern often creates friction with his fellow Justice Leaguers. Because he views himself as an authorized professional peacekeeper, he sometimes treats the others like well-meaning amateurs (courtesy of Cartoon Network press materials).”
from the Justice League Panel at the 2001
Timm: He’s the
most controversial character so far from what we’ve been gathering on the
Internet. When the show’s lineup
was first announced, there were a lot of people saying, “Why aren’t they
Another reason why we chose him: literally, out of all the Green Lanterns we could have chosen, we all kind of liked the John Stewart character from the comics, especially the Denny O’Neil / Neal Adams version. When they first introduced him he was like the angry young black guy…you know, in 1969 and 1970. Even though that’s not really relevant today—like the whole Black Power movement and everything—we still wanted to keep that kind of edge and attitude with him.
And so, just in banging around ideas of what to do with him, going back to the original idea of the Green Lantern Corps—where they’re basically Lensmen [the pulp characters created by E.E. “Doc” Smith]—they’re space cops, they’re space marines. We’re like, “Okay, he’s a military guy.” And then somebody said, “Louis Gossett Jr.—An Officer and a Gentlemen.” I said, “Yeah,” and I went, “Wait a minute—Samuel L. Jackson,” and everyone went, “Yeah!” So that’s kind of who he is. He’s a real rugged, no-nonsense, barking orders kind of Green Lantern—and we love him to pieces. We love him so much [that] he’s like in almost every episode. I predict that you guys are going to love him too.
points out the poorly-lit image of Green Lantern’s design]
Why isn’t he green? He is
green. It’s hard to see in here,
but he is green. Trust me, he’s
green—he’s not Blue Lantern, we’re not pulling a switch on you—he’s so
green. He’s been a Green Lantern
for so long that the green radiation of the ring has actually infected his
bloodstream—so that’s why his eyes are even green.
They glow green. So believe
me: he’s green.
Courtesy of Revolution Science Fiction and Comics2Film.
Dwayne McDuffie on Green Lantern: “We’ve explained [John Stewart’s background] in bits and pieces: John was a Green Lantern long before Kyle, but not in this sector (he was with the Honor Guard). When Abin Sur got into trouble, his ring found another worthy Earthman, Kyle Rayner. When Kyle was reassigned for training, John came back to cover Earth’s sector, as it was an opportunity to serve near his home planet.
"John’s been a Green Lantern for as long as fifteen years, near as I can figure out. His eyes are green because he’s absorbed so much ring energy. […] Green Lantern’s identity is publicly-known. He never had a secret identity. He doesn’t think of himself as a superhero; more of a beat cop (courtesy of DwayneMcDuffie.com).”
Bruce Timm on Green Lantern #1 (circa 2002): “I really love the John Stewart Green Lantern. People wonder why we didn’t go with Kyle Rayner or Guy Gardner, but when they see what we’ve done with him, I honestly think they’ll agree he’s the most interesting Green Lantern they’ve ever seen…I had Samuel L. Jackson in mind for this Green Lantern…[Phil LaMarr used] this gruff military voice and it was dead-on (courtesy of Starlog Magazine).”
Bruce Timm on Green Lantern #2 (circa 2003): “The interesting thing about Green Lantern is [that], in the DC comics, there have been a number of Green Lanterns over the years, so we had a lot of them to choose from, [but] for variety’s sake and for diversity, we really wanted to use the John Stewart Green Lantern character.
“He was actually introduced back in  and he was initially brought in as a part-time replacement for [the] Hal Jordan Green Lantern, who was the main Green Lantern at the time. And what was interesting was that, in 1970 terms, the John Stewart character was a kind of angry, young black man…real ‘power to the people’ kind of guy. That was something that we thought would be kind of…interesting…to add to the dynamic of our Justice League.
“We could have gone with Hal Jordan—and he was a great character in the comics—but, in terms of personalities, we wanted to make sure that we had a really good mix of some characters who were a little bit more jokey and some characters who were a little more, y’know, whatever. And so, we felt that having a Green Lantern with a real good, solid edge to him would be interesting for drama (courtesy of the Justice League: Justice on Trial DVD).”
Bruce Timm on Green Lantern (circa 2004): “The only things that really needed to be settled on were which version of the Green Lantern we were going to use, because there’s so many. We could have used Hal Jordan or Kyle Rayner or Guy Gardner, but for a number of reasons, including ethnic diversity, we chose to go with John Stewart—which has turned out to be probably the single most controversial aspect of the show amongst die-hard comic book fans. John Stewart never really got a whole lot of face time in the comics. There was a small period of time back in the ‘80s when Steve Englehart was writing the comic, when John was the main Green Lantern. […] I’ve always kind of liked him too and, again, aside from the ethnic diversity thing, we were looking at what the group dynamic was going to be.
“One of the things we really wanted to avoid was having a group of characters who were all pretty much interchangeable. Going back and rereading a lot of the Silver Age Justice League comics, they really are all the same character—Batman [had] no different a voice than Superman or Flash. They’re all kind of the same character; the only thing that differentiates them is what colors they’re wearing and what powers they have. So we really wanted to make sure they had a much more interesting group dynamic than that and that they all had different personalities. Going back to the original version of John Stewart from Denny O’Neil and Neal Adams’ day, the thing that made him interesting to us was that he was quite a bit more of a badass. If you go back and read those, he comes across as a stereotypical, angry, young black man. We knew we didn’t want to do that exactly, but we still wanted to keep a little bit of that edge to him so that he would be one of the more strident of the characters. We hit upon the idea of the Green Lanterns being kind of a paramilitary force, so we said, ‘Ah, marine. Okay, Louis Gossett Jr., Samuel Jackson.’ So that became our take on him (courtesy of Modern Masters: Bruce Timm).”
Phil LaMarr on Green Lantern (circa 2004): “I wasn’t a huge Green Lantern reader. I think I got into Green Lantern via Justice League, and Justice League via Batman. Batman was my core hero. I think I discovered John Stewart in the ‘80s, when they brought him back and sort of revamped the character. Then the reprints of the classic Green Lantern / Green Arrow series came out and I started looking at those because I had a huge affinity for Denny [O’Neil] and Neal [Adams’] work on Batman. Once I was able to get a hold of reprints of Green Lantern / Green Arrow, that’s when I went straight to John Stewart.
“I had been working for Warner Bros. on another show, Static Shock, and I was brought in to audition for Justice League. As a comics reader, it was definitely interesting to see what characters had been picked. We didn’t know if these were the only characters [they were using on the show], but the fact that they had John Stewart as the Green Lantern was very interesting. Once I started working on the show, I asked Bruce [Timm] about that. I don’t think [race] was the only reason [Stewart was chosen for Justice League], but the first thing he mentioned was, ‘Well, I just didn’t want it to be a bunch of white guys going around saving the universe.’
is interesting because [the creative team] rewrote the character in many ways.
At first I thought John was just going to be Hal
“As a voice actor, your contribution [to the character] is very subtle. You come into the process long after the scripts are done, so what really happens is it becomes a cumulative effect. The way you perform the words in one episode gives the writers a voice that helps them write the next episode. I chose to give John Stewart a very deep, powerful voice. For me that couldn’t be avoided, given the way Bruce designs characters. You have this gigantic chest and that says to me this guy has a huge resonating chamber [and] his voice has to boom.
creative team] told me about the military background and, in my experience, most
of the black guys that age who went into the army did so to get out of bad
circumstances. They didn’t have a
ton of opportunities and [the military] was one of the best ones.
Also, my dad is from
“[The creative team] went back to his hometown in the ‘In Blackest Night’ episode very early on, and you got to see a little of where John was from. […] There is always a question of can you go back. If you move to a white neighborhood and get a big house, are you still truly black? If you have the most powerful weapon in the universe and you can travel throughout the galaxy without the aid of a ship, are you still a human being?
“I have to think that maybe I had some influence on [Stewart’s new Unlimited look]. He had the very ‘80s haircut when we started the show in 1999, and I didn’t want to complain, because I’m a hired hand. I did drop hints here and there so that now they’ve finally given him a more updated hairdo. The only think I can say about [Unlimited] is Hawkgirl will be back, in some respect, and because of that there will be more subtle adult relationship for John Stewart. [...The courtship between Green Lantern and Hawkgirl] was one of the most mature relationships on television. The characters didn’t fall into bed. They had a courtship that went over two or three story arcs. The one Christmas episode had just a really sweet, romantic dating scene between the two of them.
“In my mind, the John Stewart on Justice League [still] the [character created by Denny O’Neil and Neal Adams]; he just has gone through a military life as well. I think he is a little older, but he still has that level of energy. He suffers no fools and he’s still very no-nonsense, but he’s also a little tempered. This is also a different time, too. The social wounds aren’t as raw, so the anger is not as present (courtesy of Back Issue Magazine).”
Bruce Timm on Green Lantern’s design: “John Stewart was the one Green Lantern in the comic book continuity who never, ever wore a mask […] most of the Green Lanterns wore a little domino mask. So, he was the first Green Lantern to say, ‘No, forget it, I’m not wearing a mask. You know, I’m not ashamed to be a Green Lantern; I’m not ashamed of being John Stewart,' so we thought that was a really important part of the John Stewart version of Green Lantern. But, just purely for visual sake, we thought we needed to give him some kind of visual gimmick for his close-ups, so we came up with the idea that he’s been a Green Lantern for so long that the energy of the Green Lantern has kind of infused his entire being, so that it’s even in his bloodstream and it glows out of his eyes and it certainly makes an interesting visual (courtesy of Justice League: Justice on Trial DVD).”
James Tucker of Stewart's Unlimited goatee: "It represents an ending to the Green Lantern / Hawkgirl relationship. Usually when people break up, they get a makeover. We didn't want to do a major [redesign], but we could do tweaks here and there, and that helps to give it an evolved feeling, like things have changed, characters have moved on (courtesy of Toon Zone)."
nothing on Green Lantern’s use of the ring: “He’s not using the ring to make giant baseball gloves to catch people or crazy mecha-beasts to defeat a foe. He’s a strategist and uses the ring in a no-nonsense way (courtesy of Toon Zone).”
Bruce Timm on Stewart’s use of the ring (circa 2004): “Well, it’s one of those things: you never know when an idea is silly but cool, or when it’s just silly. The idea of a guy making giant, green boxing gloves—at the time—struck us as being just plain silly. In retrospect, I’d have to say it was probably a mistake. Yeah, it’s a visual medium and that is kind of what the Green Lanterns were always about, even going back to the Golden Age. So we probably should have given him a little more variety in the kinds of things he makes. I mean, honestly, bottom-line, I have to say that it really doesn’t make any sense for a guy who’s got this powerful ring on his hand that he can shoot laser beams with, there’s no reason for him to make a giant, green laser gun that shoots beams. […] So we didn’t really quite think that through. We limited what the ring is. We felt that it’s just a weapon, so he’ll use it as a laser beam and make shields with it. And it does make sense for his personality to treat it that way but, at the same time, yeah, we could have been a little bit more imaginative with his usage of it. In fact, he does do a little bit more of that usual Green Lantern stuff in the second season (courtesy of Modern Masters: Bruce Timm).”
Denny O’Neil on Green Lantern’s adaptation (circa 2004): “It depends on how skillfully they do it. It’s a mistake to think that, with a character that’s been around for as long as most of these guys, that there is only one, absolute right way to interpret them. […] On the basis of having seen one or two episodes, it was not our version of the character, but it did seem to be perfectly valid. If there is anyone on this planet that I trust to do a good adaptation, it’s Bruce Timm. I thought that FOX’s Batman series, up to that time, was the best transposition of comic book material to another medium. There is always a process of re-inventing, and that infuriates fans sometimes because these adaptations are not like the comic books. They can’t be; they are a different media, and they have different requirements. I thought Timm and Paul Dini did that with Batman extraordinarily well (courtesy of Back Issue Magazine).”
Green Lantern Model Design Sheet #1 | Green Lantern Model Design Sheet #2
Green Lantern Image #1 (pre-JL Design) | Green Lantern Image #2 (JL Design)
Green Lantern Image #3
Green Lantern Image #4 | Green Lantern Image #5
“I can still pull my weight, you know. There’s more to me than just a fancy ring.”
Green Lantern (to Hawkgirl) in "Hearts and Minds"
Much like his fellow Justice League colleagues, this version of Green Lantern is significantly different from his comic book counterpart. Originally an architect who, at one time, rebuilt Ferris Aircraft following its destruction, this version of John Stewart is instead a former U.S. Marine, which changes the dynamic of the character in various ways, such as his manipulation of the ring’s energies. For example, an architect—much like a graphic artist such as Kyle Rayner—would conceivably indulge in the more creative aspects of the Green Lantern ring; but a man from a military background—who, among other things, is taught to value results over aesthetic—would utilize its potential quite differently, preferring to use it in as straightforward and simple a manner as possible. It is for this reason that Stewart chooses to envelop a getaway car in its energies, rather than conjure up a giant pair of tweezers to pick it up ("In Blackest Night"); or use a simple blast of energy to stop a foe, rather than a giant boxing glove ("Maid of Honor")—it’s just not his style. And while Internet fans have all but crucified Stewart for his “conservative” use of his power ring, any attempts to do so in the heat of battle would simply be out of character for this particular Lantern.
(This isn’t to say that Stewart is devoid of creativity—there are multiple instances where he has utilized the power ring to more imaginative ends. For example, there was his creation of a giant Ogyptuian [an alien from the pages of The Omega Men] for use in a training session in "Secret Society," or the snowboard, for the purpose of recreation, in "Comfort and Joy." He does have imagination, but doesn’t want to waste time in the thick of battle to decide whether a brick wall or a giant fist would make a better battering ram against an oncoming target.)
Initially portrayed as a one-note character in "Secret Origins" (the standoffish, angry black man), John Stewart’s character has evolved considerably over the series’ progression, giving the audience some insight into the formerly inscrutable character. For example, in early episodes, Stewart was frequently portrayed as being emotionally withdrawn and distant from others—so much so that he blew off Kilowog (the only Green Lantern to come to his defense) after the battle against the Manhunters in "In Blackest Night." Add this to his confrontational tendency to butt heads with others—such as with Wonder Woman ("Secret Origins"), Aquaman ("The Enemy Below"), and Hawkgirl ("War World")—and Green Lantern often came off sounding like a jerk. However, as the series continued and we delved deeper into Stewart’s psyche, it became apparent that the reason he chose to keep everyone at arms length was because he didn’t want to become too emotionally involved with them. It’s a typical reaction that is common for members of the military (or to their families): you try not to get too close to people because you don’t know when you’ll be transferred someplace else. Based on what we’ve seen about John Stewart’s life this appears to be a constant (note his parting words to Katma Tui in "Hearts and Minds": “Sorry, Kat. Duty calls.”), as he frequently finds himself shifted from place to place—his time in the Marine Corps took him away from his hometown, and his time in the Green Lantern Corps took him away from his home planet. Already recognizing the constant in his life, he initially feared becoming too close to his teammates because he doesn’t know when they’ll be taken away from him…and it doesn’t hurt if it doesn’t become too personal.
In fact, isolation and regret are the main constants in John Stewart’s life. We get the sense that he’s approaching middle age—or at least a mid-life crisis—and that he regrets not having much of a life beyond being a Green Lantern (for example, in "Metamorphosis," he compares his life to that of his friend, the successful Rex Mason, and wonders if his could have been similar had he remained on Earth). Unlike Superman, who maintains his Clark Kent identity and has a life outside of the cape, Stewart essentially let his normal life diminish until nothing remained of it save for his name; he let everything else fall to the wayside in exchange for his career as a Lantern (as a result, he sometimes feels as little more than an slave to the ring, which is why Dr. Destiny’s statement that, “You’re the Lantern, and the Lantern is you,” carried so much weight in Stewart's mind). Thus, he carries a tremendous sense of loss and can’t help wondering about the road not taken.
addition to questions regarding his life’s choices, he carries additional
regret when it comes to the people that he protects.
As mentioned in interviews by Bruce Timm, the original John Stewart was
very much a blue collar, “man of the people” kind of character, who came
from the streets and maintained a tight bond with the society that he grew up in.
However, on Justice League, Stewart has spent roughly ten
years in space, which means that he, essentially, returned to an Earth that
has passed him by. To him, the people
from his hometown of
(This struggle with his humanity is probably a large reason why Green Lantern gets along so well with fellow League member the Flash—while Stewart has lost his connection to the people he protects, the Flash has managed to maintain his rapport with the general public. Thus, Stewart respects and even envies that aspect of Wally’s life.)
John Stewart’s evolution as a character, some fans still lament the absence of
Hal Jordan—the Silver Age Green Lantern still considered by many to be the
“true” Green Lantern (which, when considered carefully, is laughable considering that he was one member
of an organization that bolstered 3,600 members, each with identical
powers)—however, close examination of the animated series’ back-story
reveals that, for all intents and purposes—the slots that Jordan previously
filled in the comics are still vacant (save for Abin Sur granting his power ring
to Kyle Rayner in the Superman episode "In Brightest Day").
For example, in the original Cartoon Network press materials, it was
reported that John Stewart was chosen to be a Green Lantern by the Guardians; in
the comics the same thing occurred, but it was because they wanted him to serve
as a replacement for Jordan should he be incapacitated...and they also ordered Jordan to train
Second, Sinestro and Star Sapphire, generally considered to be Hal
Jordan's enemies, don't appear to hold a grudge against Stewart the same
way they would have against Jordan (beyond him being a Green Lantern, of
It could be argued that Justice League takes place during the time period
Images courtesy of Cartoon Network, DC Cartoon Archives, bat313, Warner Bros. Online UK, Toon Zone, The Phil LaMarr Home Page, and The World's Finest.
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