How the new animated Green Lantern tweaks the mythology; will you like it?

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Dec 14, 2012, 3:54 PM EST

Why stop at Batman and Superman when you can write an adventure for Green Lantern, too?

That's the enviable predicament faced by Alan Burnett, the veteran television writer-producer and comic-book writer whose credits include the animated series SuperFriends, Batman, Superman, Batman and Superman, Batman Beyond and The Batman. After so much time spent in the Batcave, he just couldn't turn down the opportunity to write Green Lantern: First Flight, an upcoming DC Universe original animated movie that puts beat cop Hal Jordan (Christopher Meloni) out on the street with his partner, Sinestro (Victor Garber), for the very first time.

"I knew the development people over here at Warner Brothers were looking for a take on Green Lantern, and they were having difficulty coming up with one," Burnett said in a recent interview. "I was driving my car, just thinking about it, when suddenly an idea occurred to me, and I called them up and said, 'Have you ever tried this?' They said, 'No. Go with that.' And that's how it got into it."

So what exactly was the "this" that Warner had never tried?

"I always thought that Green Lantern was unique," Burnett replied. "His powers are such that sometimes they seem magical. So he sort of bridges magic and sci-fi to me, and he's part of a complex network of characters that literally cover the universe. And there's so much going on that you have to anchor it. What I did in the script was just anchor the Green Lanterns into a police force and think of their sectors as precincts."

Burnett called writing First Flight "freeing." He'd previously dealt with Superman and with stories that took place on other planets, this new project was his first shot at doing a long-form story set almost entirely in space. "It was nice to see some starlight," Burnett joked. "That was the fun for me, to create alien versions of everyday locations on Earth."

Once he handed in his script, Burnett left First Flight in the hands of the animators, producer Bruce Timm and director Lauren Montgomery. "I wanted the experience of seeing a script of mine go through people without me tinkering with it too much, and then seeing what happens," he said. "And they did a great job. I'm very happy with it. It was a long script that needed some cutting down, unfortunately, and in a way it works fine. We get the origin over pretty quickly and head right into the adventure.

"It's one of the darkest stories I've ever told," Burnett added, "and it keeps getting darker and darker as it goes on."

Green Lantern: First Flight also features the voices of Tricia Helfer, Michael Madsen, John Larroquette and Kurtwood Smith. It will be released on DVD and Blu-ray on July 28 by Warner Home Video.