This article contains massive spoilers for Arrow Season 8 Episode 10, “Fadeout.”
Well, it finally happened. The Arrowverse now officially has a Green Lantern. The Arrow series finale, “Fadeout” featured in its final moments something that fans have been clamoring for in the DC TV universe almost since its inception: a Green Lantern ring. And it wasn’t enough for there just to be a ring show up on the screen. Oh no…it was found by none other than John Diggle, the most beloved second banana in superhero history this side of Dick Grayson, and a character who has had connections to the Green Lantern mythos teased on the show.
In the extraordinarily unlikely event you don’t know what a Green Lantern is, allow me to help. The Green Lantern Corps are a galactic police force, each assigned to a different sector of the galaxy. Their primary weapon is a ring which channels the energy of willpower, and allows them to manifest constructs that can be used for offense and defense, gives them the ability to fly at incredible speeds, and survive the rigors of deep space travel. They’re like a cross between what you kinda wish the Jedi Knights actually spent more time being and Starfleet. Wanna know more? Do watch the seriously underrated Green Lantern: The Animated Series or Justice League Unlimited. Don’t watch the 2011 Green Lantern movie that starred Ryan Reynolds. Hit me up on Twitter if you want comics recommendations.
Ahem, ANYWAY…back to Arrow.
There has long been a Green Arrow and Green Lantern connection, one that pre-dates the Arrowverse by decades. Hal Jordan and Oliver Queen co-headlined a book in the 1970s (with a legendary creative team of Dennis O’Neil and Neal Adams), and have a long history as close friends and Justice League teammates. And Arrow has never been shy about teasing fans with Green Lantern references from its earliest days, whether it was with references (and even trips to) Hal Jordan’s hometown of Coast City, references to Ferris Air, or even (in exactly one episode) a flight jacket with the name “Jordan” emblazoned on it in a Coast City bar. But as it turned out, Hal Jordan was never going to be the Arrowverse Green Lantern.
As Arrow began to lean harder into its DC Comics connections with its second season, it didn’t take long for fans to start noting the similarities between John Diggle and comic book (and Justice League animated series) Green Lantern, John Stewart. Both were military veterans capable of handling themselves in a fight without the aid of superpowers, and both brought a certain no-nonsense sense of leadership to the teams they were a part of. Still, for years this connection was mostly fan speculation, until Arrow season 7 decided to make it explicit.
The first was during the 2019 Arrowverse crossover event, “Elseworlds.” When The Flash of Earth-90 meets the team, he looks at John and wonders why he isn’t wearing his ring. Later that season, in the episode “Spartan,” we meet Roy Stewart, who, as it turns out was John’s stepfather. While John never adopted the “Stewart” surname, it was certainly close enough, and perhaps on Earth-90, where he wore a certain heroic ring, he did exactly that. Which brings us back to the momentous events of the Arrow series finale.
Throughout “Fadeout” it seemed clear that John Diggle wasn’t ready to give up on the broader heroic mission that started with Oliver Queen and eventually encompassed an entire universe. The episode specifically leaned on how instrumental Diggle was in Oliver’s evolution as a hero, notably in how he helped the archer move away from capital punishment as his main solution to the problems of Starling City. It was Diggle who told the team to suit up on their final mission in this episode, and Diggle who delivered Oliver’s eulogy. And while much of the episode did help to remind viewers that there are plenty of other superhero shows to watch (and a Green Arrow and the Canaries pilot awaiting pickup at the network), it was just as much a quiet statement on Diggle’s heroism and integrity, a heroism and integrity that may have been more innate than even that of Oliver Queen.
It’s during that eulogy, which plays out over a montage of members of Team Arrow going their separate ways, that we finally get our Green Lantern moment. As Diggle gets ready to close up a moving van and start a new chapter of his life, a fiery object in the sky catches his attention, and lands nearby with enough force to blast him backwards. Upon investigation, this is no ordinary hunk of space rock, it’s a cosmic jewelry box, and when opened, John is bathed in a familiar green light.
While we don’t see him actually don the ring, nor is there ever any mention of the words Green Lantern, there’s little room for doubt here. Still, David Ramsey and Arrowverse producer Marc Guggenheim remain cagey about the actual nature of this.
“This was something that was worked out, over a year ahead, with DC entertainment,” executive producer Marc Guggenheim told Collider. “We very specifically negotiated and discussed the parameters, and I feel like, to say anything beyond what we have shown you, would violate our agreement with DC.”
Ramsey is similarly vague, despite this seeming to confirm what fans have hoped for for several years.
“We did have some restrictions from DC, so we had to kind of play within that,” David Ramsey said in an interview with TV Guide. “But it wouldn’t be Arrow if there wasn’t some question even after that opened-ended tease. And it’s a huge tease, and obviously, your mind goes to only one thing — there being a ring and him becoming this wonderful character and joining this galactic police group — but it’s still open-ended, and that’s the way we wanted to leave it. It was great to have some sort of answer, but we’re left with some questions.”
Still, the possibilities are now wide open for one of the most beloved original characters in the Arrowverse, and it’s possible we won’t have to wait much longer before seeing what’s next. Diggle had mentioned earlier in the episode that he was planning on moving to Metropolis with Lyla and their two children. Metropolis, of course, is a hotbed of heroic activity, especially that now in this brave new post-Crisis on Infinite Earths Arrowverse Earth-Prime, it is home to Superman and Lois Lane, soon to be the headliners of their own TV show titled (appropriately) Superman and Lois. A series set in Metropolis would certainly be more immediately friendly to the kind of larger scale cosmic storytelling that comes when someone has a Green Lantern ring, and Superman is just the kind of friendly alien to help John figure out what kind of power he now wields.
But even this seemingly minor detail wouldn’t be officially confirmed.
“David and I have actually talked a lot about Diggle’s and David’s post-Arrow future,” Guggenheim told Collider. “We’ve got some really good ideas. I will also say that David has become a remarkable director, so we’re as interested in him behind the camera, as we are in front.”
And even with all this, it wasn’t even the only Green Lantern reference within the Arrowverse that we’ve had in the last few months! A line in the second chapter of Crisis on Infinite Earths mentioned “the tome of the Guardians,” referring to the Guardians of the Universe, the eternal beings who created the Green Lanterns as an intergalactic police force. Crisis also combined the origin of The Monitor, Mar Novu, with that of Krona, a significant figure in Green Lantern mythology. They even made Mar Novu into a Maltusian, which is the same alien race that the Guardians evolved from. It also revealed that Earth-12 would seem to be the home of a lot of Green Lantern Corps related stuff. So despite how evasive Ramsey and Guggenheim are being at the moment, it seems like everything is primed to finally let us see Diggle wear the ring.
Now, whether or not this ends up having anything at all to do with the HBO Max Green Lantern TV series currently in development remains to be seen. The few details we know make it seem unlikely, but if Arrow taught us anything, it’s never to underestimate the power of Greg Berlanti.