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Green Lantern on the big screen, Angela Bassett stars as Amanda Waller

Gail Choice | 6/8/2011, 5 p.m.

Academy Award nominee Angela Bassett ("What's Love Got to do With It") hits the big screen with a meaty role in the highly anticipated film the "Green Lantern."

Bassett stars as Dr. Amanda Waller, an enigmatic government scientist determined to uncover the truth about some strange "visitors."

If you can recall, another iconic actress, Pam Grier also starred as Amanda Waller in the television series "Smallville." In this series, Amanda is the ruthless head of the agency Checkmate.

You might say, that's all well and good, but who is this Amanda Waller and why is her character so significant; this is especially true, if you're not familiar with the comic book, superhero phenomenon. Get ready for a history lesson.

In the comic book, Amanda Waller has been established as a widow who escaped Chicago's Cabrini-Green housing projects with her surviving family after her husband one of her daughters were murdered. Waller eventually obtained a doctorate in political science and became a congressional aide. During that work, she discovered the existence of the first two incarnations of the Suicide Squad. Taking elements from both of these, she proposed the development of its third incarnation to the White House and was placed in charge, upon its approval.

The agency was formed by Waller and consisted of a group of superheroes fighting for the right, but her actions were later questioned.

Waller's tenure as the official in charge of the third Suicide Squad was tumultuous and controversial. Despite many successes, she developed a habit of defying her superiors in Washington in order to achieve goals both legitimate and personal on more than one occasion.

Having no super powers of her own, she was however an expert markswoman, always carried a gun, was extremely intelligent, great at hand-to-hand combat, known to be a master manipulator, and espionage master.

Oh, yes, she's looked at as a villain in the comic book world.

Waller is a major character in the DC Comics universe. She leads the government agency Checkmate in its White Branch (Intelligence) as the White Queen, and has even worked with Lex Luthor on various occasions. Amanda's main personality trait is to mistrust heroes, but she's forced to deal with them, often to great effect.

In the movie version, Michael Clarke Duncan plays the powerful voice of Kilowog, a computer-generated creature who is a gifted genetic scientist and the primary trainer of the Green Lantern Corps' newest recruits.

Bringing the enduringly popular superhero to the big screen for the first time, "Green Lantern" stars Ryan Reynolds ("X-Men Origins: Wolverine") in the title role, under the direction of Martin Campbell ("Casino Royale").

In a universe as vast as it is mysterious, a small but powerful force has existed for centuries.

Protectors of peace and justice, they are called the Green Lantern Corps. A brotherhood of warriors sworn to keep intergalactic order, each Green Lantern wears a ring that grants him superpowers. But when a new enemy called Parallax threatens to destroy the balance of power in the Universe, their fate and the fate of earth lie in the hands of their newest recruit, the first human ever selected: Hal Jordan.

Hal is a gifted and cocky test pilot, but the Green Lanterns have little respect for humans, who have never harnessed the infinite powers of the ring before. But Hal is clearly the missing piece to the puzzle, and along with his determination and will power, he has one thing no member of the Corps has ever had: humanity.

With the encouragement of fellow pilot and childhood sweetheart Carol Ferris (Blake Lively), if Hal can quickly master his new powers and find the courage to overcome his fears, he may prove to be not only the key to defeating Parallax ... he will become the greatest Green Lantern of all. But first he's got to get pass Waller.

"Green Lantern" is in theaters June 17.

Gail can be reached at hollywoodbychoice_gail@yahoo.com.