The Deal: this is the fifth in a series of pitches for the rebooted DC Movies. I’m using AI art to mock-up these pitches, which has proven to be more amusing than accurate.
We open on an experimental craft at an air show. The announcer tells us it’s Ferris’ newest innovation, flown by Coast City’s own Martin Jordan. His young son, Hal and his wife are there, saying goodbye and wishing him luck. She’s worried, and her fear is making Hal anxious, so Martin gives Hal his leather bomber jacket, then kisses his wife. He gives the audience a wave and then climbs into the plane.
The craft screams overhead. We’re making something of a play for that Top Gun audience, so we get some nifty flying shots before the engine blows. Jordan and Ferris communicate over the radio. Ferris wants him to bring the plane down safely, because of the investment it represents. Jordan tells him the plane’s coming down hard- and if he brings it down in front of the stands a lot of people are going to get hurt. We pan down, and see that he’s already tried to eject- and it’s malfunctioned- he’s made the decision to sacrifice himself to save other people.
We watch young Hal and Carol, transfixed, afraid, as they watch the craft descend. Carol grabs Hal’s hand tight, and we cut to the modern day.
Hal is a freelance astronaut, for all intents and purposes. He works for a Space-X competitor (technically sub-contracted through Ferris Air), run by Hector Hammond. Hammond is renowned (but also considered a kook) for his intensive personality testing in who he hires. That’s because his psionic abilities put him in touch, essentially subconsciously, with the emotional spectrum, and he can feel its power even if he hasn’t figured out how to use it.
That’s the reason in his employ Hammond has John Stewart working as an aeronautical engineer, Kyle Raynor working as a graphic designer, and even Guy Gardner as his chief of security, and William Hand as his chief technician, responsible for most of the builds. He puts the Ferris Air staff through the same process, which is why he works so closely with both Carol Ferris and Hal Jordan.
Gardner needs a little extra love just because his character usually… sucks. But he doesn’t have to. See, he was beaten by his alcoholic father as a kid, and as a result hated him, and hated booze. Seeking to help kids who were struggling through similar circumstances, he put himself through school, getting dual degrees in education and social work. And he was good at it. He was empathetic, and kind. But he was still angry. One kid reminded him too much of himself, and he was shaken; that might have been the end of it, but the kid’s father found out he was talking to the school’s counselor, and burst in. Guy didn’t see him there- he only saw his own father, only saw himself cowering, and beat the living hell out of him. He likely would have ended up in prison, except the ‘arresting’ officer was his brother. Guy had been an MP in the military; that paid for his schooling. His scores were off the chart, to the degree that police forces tried to recruit him when his time in the service was up. But he didn’t like that being an MP brought out his aggressive side, so he pursued education. His father, now a captain with the Boston Police Department, is able to broker a trade: Guy works with the Boston PD for a few years, they make the charges go away; this is viable because under questioning the father confesses to child abuse, and can’t remember whether he or Guy took the first swing. Guy is a pretty good cop, but it gives him the same opportunity for violence, also giving him a template for bravado covering up his pain. He’s recruited by Hammond, who gives him a dual role, working with his human resources in a hands-on capacity, but also running his security. In most instances, Guy is insulated from the day to day, but Hammond insists on Guy also being his personal security, too, often tasked with playing the heavy, bringing him directly into conflict with Hal, who has a history of belting authority figures.
Jordan and Stewart become fast friends. They’re both military men, ones who on balance enjoyed it. They become drinking bodies and confidantes. I’d model their relationship somewhat off of Tony and Rhodey.
They tolerate the dreamer who designs most of the graphics and handles the social media for Hammond, Kyle Raynor. He looks up to them; he’s kind of the Jimmy Olsen to Hal’s Superman.
And then there’s Carol. Hal’s always had an eye for Carol… and she’s never given him the time of day. The reason is the Ferris family views Martin’s death as their fault; Carol can’t see Hal, even now, and not see that little boy her family destroyed. This led them to be protective of Hal. They hired him when no one else would- after he washed out of the Air Force after hitting his superior officer. Hal always had trouble with authority, and that’s continued with the Ferrises. Hammond is pursuing Carol, but she’s reluctant, since at this point her company is reliant on his for its survival, so a relationship would put her in an uncomfortable position.
We establish all these relationships early, because once the plot starts moving, it’s going to be pretty nonstop. But it’s during one of these nights at the bar that John finally levels with Hal. Hal sees Carol as a cold ball-buster, and it’s clear from their conversation that some of what he feels about her is residual resentment over her family’s culpability in his father’s death. John’s getting more annoyed the more Hal complains, before finally slamming down his beer. “She fought like hell for you.” At first Hal’s confused. “After you washed out, the reason no one would touch you is insuring a wash-out is expensive. You’re a literal liability. But she fought for you. Fought Hammond, fought the board- raised enough of a stink that I heard it all the way in engineering. And you know why? Because she knows there’s more to you than your record. She knows why you decked that general- why you gave her and her father so much shit. She knows your story- your real story- not the one in your file, but the man you are between those lines.”
Kyle looks up from his doodling long enough to confirm he heard about her advocating in the marketing department, too. John hammers him a little more, about not knowing what all happened between them, but that he knows she was a kid when Hal’s father died- she isn’t who he’s pissed at.And that her father pulled strings for him, too; Hal’s scores were passable but not transcendent, so part of the reason Hal got to be a pilot was because of Ferris’ intervention.
We cut to Abin Sur. He has a prisoner in his ship, one taunting him for not trusting his ring, needing the ship, that his fear makes him weak, that his terror at the coming Blackest Night will be his downfall. To demonstrate this, Atrocitus uses his red power ring to tear his way out of Sur’s energy prison and attack him as he’s flying.
Hal is sitting in the cockpit of a new fighter. He has a picture of his father taped to the instruments, and while waiting for a clear runway, talks to it. “I think John’s right. I think… I think I put a lot of blame on a lot of people over the years, because I couldn’t understand why you left us- and I couldn’t be mad at you for being gone. I made things harder on people who didn’t deserve it. That’s not the kind of man I want to be, pop.” He gets told over the radio that the runway is clear, and they’re go for the test-flight.
Essentially, now that there’s a space force, there’s a need for a space fighter. Jordan gets it to break atmosphere, the purpose of the test, but then sees the alien craft hit the atmosphere at the wrong angle, taking heat damage as a result. He radios in that he’s in pursuit of a crashing craft. Hammond tells him to leave it- he’s completed his task, and every second more risks everything. Hal knows whoever is piloting that craft is going to need assistance, and their only hope is getting help there as soon as possible- requiring accurate coordinates of the crash site, though he’s largely unable to articulate this past his anti-authority knee jerk. Carol is in the room with Hammond, and tries to explain that’s who Hal is. Hammond dismisses her as having a soft spot for Jordan. She’s still in denial, but Hammond sees that Jordan stands in the way of the future he wants with Carol. He asks her to leave, to let him talk to Jordan alone.
Sur and Atrocitus fight but it’s clear that Sur has already lost, and isn’t even able to protect himself as the ship crashes. Atrocitus wonders if he’ll be able to take Sur’s ring once he’s dead; Sur whispers something to his ring, and it flies off his finger as they crash.
Hammond tries one last time to convince Hal to come back, telling him he’s risking the entire project. When Jordan refuses, he hits a button beneath his desk, and Jordan’s engine explodes, sabotaging his ejector and landing gear as well. Hammond taunts Jordan with the reality of the situation- he can let the plane fly level, and hit Coast City, or he can ditch in the desert like his father. Hal points the jet at the desert, before catching his father’s photo out of the corner of his eye, and realizing he’s about to die like him. “I get it. You didn’t hesitate to do the right thing.” Something green flies into the cockpit, and onto Hal’s finger. “Hal Jordan, you have the ability to overcome great fear,” the ring tells him, and a green energy sheath enfolds him as the ship hits the sand.
Jordan opens his eyes a moment later, floating towards Sur’s wreckage. Sur is dying. Sur touches the ring, and calls to Sinestro to help capture his prisoner and stop the Blackest Night. A surge of energy engulfs Jordan as the signal is sent interstellar, and Jordan passes out. He wakes to find Sinestro there. Sinestro explains that the strain of that kind of communication can take a lot out of a Green Lantern- especially a fresh recruit. Sinestro offers to train him while they search for Atrocitus. Hal bristles at being under this new authority, but also kind of gets caught up in all of it, too.
Atrocitus is mostly laying low. He knows the Earth is not without its own heroes, and hopes to locate his quarry without drawing attention, because while being the leader of a Corps., he hasn’t figured out how to recruit new members, so it’s just him, for now. It doesn’t take much; his ring is able to connect to the internet, and finds William Hand quickly.
Sinestro and Hal camp in the desert, where Sinestro preaches a parallel lesson, that to effectively combat an enemy, one must understand them. He gives Hal access to Atrocitus’ files in the Corps., usually blocked off without special permissions. Hal is horrified that the Guardians raised his sector, but Sinestro is cold about it- saying that they were a threat to all the sectors, and while the Manhunters were overzealous, hence their replacement by sentients- the war they fought was just.
The next day, Atrocitus attacks Hammond’s building; Hand’s employment there is public record, but his home address is not. That brings him into direct conflict with Guy Gardner. Atrocitus chews through the security staff, but his ring recognizes in Guy a potential recruit, and splits, one of the rings recruiting Guy. Guy, essentially in a fugue state of rage, leads Atrocitus directly to Hand, who was walking Carol and Hammond through a new innovation.
At that moment, Sinestro and Hal arrive. Hal wants to confront Hammond for trying to murder him, but goes to aid Sinestro, instead. Together they might be able to take Atrocitus, but the addition of Guy makes it too much. Hal peels off Guy, and then connects to all of his public records. We watch as pages flip past, as the ring scans information into Hal’s mind. “Wait,” Hal says to his ring. “It’s too much. It’s his whole life, but it’s also… the least important parts of his life. He isn’t… he’s more than that man on paper.”
To make it more dynamic for the audience we cut to a series of vignettes. We see Guy as a child with his father in a polceman’s uniform in his captain’s office. Guy has a black eye and a bleeding lip. “Rolly, you’re a great cop, but you got too much anger in you. You can’t take it home and take it out on your kids. This is the last time I look the other way. Understand?”
We cut to later, Guy, now an adult, a little ruffled, talking to a different cop. “Guy, you want to hit people, say the word; I can make this go away, and put you in a uniform. You’re my brother, and I love you, but a school counselor can’t go belting parents.”
“He was dad.”
“I know. I’ve seen the referrals to child protective services. He’s a real piece of work.”
“No. I didn’t see him. I saw dad. I was fighting back against our dad, the way we couldn’t when he’d hit us.”
“Christ. I know how he was, okay? And I know you took as many beatings for me as you could. But you gotta do something about this rage. Sometimes the only thing I can do is give it to the right people.”
“I don’t want to hurt anyone.”
“Look, I spoke to dad. He pulled strings. Charges dropped… but you got to come work with us.”
“Then lock me up.”
“Look. Dad still sucks. Still tries to make me think we made up all those times he beat on us. But this is it, your best bet. No school will touch you, now. But you do your time as a uniform, and maybe one will take you on as a resource officer, and you can go back to helping kids.”
Later, the both of them, a little older.
“I did my time,” Guy says angrily.
“You’re breaking dad’s heart.”
“I don’t believe he has one to break. And I’m done hurting people. I found a job that will let me connect, and not with my fist.” He grabs his brother’s shoulder. “Don’t be dad. Get out of this job while you still got enough of a soul to be something else.”
Back in the modern moment, Hal puts his hand on Guy’s shoulder. Guy punches him, and punches him between every line. “You don’t have to be your father. You don’t have to hurt people. You care- I get that now. You want to connect- and not with your fists.” Guy stops, and tears the red ring off his finger with a howl of unadulterated anger, sending it bouncing across the floor.
Sinestro is being beaten, badly, by Atrocitus, who is using the moment to preach to William Hand about his destiny, about his greatness, about the bleak havoc he will reek on a deserving universe (one he blames for allowing the Guardians to run rampant). Things change as Guy and Hal, now both wearing Green Lantern rings, burst in. The three Green Lanterns, even with two of them being relatively green (pun intended), make short work of Atrocitus, and recapture him.
In the aftermath, Hal, now back in civilian clothes, finds Carol. Hammond has left, an extended sabbatical, leaving Carol in charge of his entire operation. Her head is swimming, and she’s freaked out by the increased responsibility. He puts his hand on her shoulder. “I don’t want to add to an already overfull plate, but… I know I’m not always the easiest man to know. So I wanted to thank you, and your family, for looking out for me. You didn’t have to. What happened with my dad, it was an accident; accidents happen, especially when you’re a test pilot on the bleeding edge. Dad loved being there, and he understood the risks, just like I do. And I know the risks you’ve taken with me, and I wanted to tell you I am so grateful for that, and so sorry for not being able to process all of this in a healthier way sooner, and for all the crap you took from me because of that. But there’s one last risk I’d love for you to take on me: would you let me take you to dinner?”
“No,” she says coldly. “But I’ll let you buy me coffee, and we’ll see how that goes.”
They don’t even realize Hector is lurking in the background. We follow him as he storms away, back to his room. He opens a safe, a lead-lined safe, and takes out a gleaming rock, and we see his head pulse.
We have two end-credits scenes. In the first, Hammond, still clutching his rock, visits Hand in his lab. He’s in possession of the Red Lantern ring Gardner removed- although he can no longer activate it. But during the fight his equipment got enough solid readings from them that he thinks he can reverse-engineer their power signature- he suspects his black ring can steal the energy of a Green Lantern ring and use it himself. Given enough time, he might even be able to figure out a way to power it himself. Hammond smiles.
In the second, Sinestro takes Hal to Oa, to speak with the Guardians. They tell him the first prophecy in the book of the Black has come true with the return of the first of the Five Inversions. They say they’re going to need to begin recruiting for the battles ahead, and Hal says he might know some good guys.