When I was a kid, my exposure to superheroes came more from the Super Friends cartoons on Saturday morning than from comic books. And those cartoons didn't much feature the heroes' origin stories.
But once in a while I'd get my hands on some of that four-color newsprint. And one of those comics (probably an issue of Justice League of America) featured, in some flashback context or another, the origin of the Green Lantern, Hal Jordan.
GL's origin story was my favorite: unlike those who were born into their powers (like Superman) or got them by accident (like Spider Man), Jordan's were awarded to him because of his character.
The Green Lantern Corps is an interstellar force of crime-fighters and heroes, whose powers come from the rings they wear. Before Jordan, Abin Sur was the Green Lantern for this sector of the galaxy; he crashed on Earth, and Jordan, a test pilot, flew to the scene and risked his life to try to save the dying alien. Sur sees Jordan as a worthy replacement, and gives him the ring.
In some tellings, Jordan is summoned by the ring when Sur directs it to find someone honest and fearless. But the point is that Jordan wasn't selected at random: he earned it.
Which is why a lot of GL fans are feeling nervous about the tagline seen on promotional art just released for next summer's Green Lantern movie: "Anyone can be chosen."
Uh, no, guys, that's the point. It takes a very special person (or other sentient being, up to and including an intelligent planet) to wield a Green Lantern ring. Not just "anyone".
Hollywood, please don't mess this up.