So there’s going to be another Green Hornet movie.
Um… yay? Or boo? It’s so hard to know what to think, and whether this is even worth caring about.
Casual movie audiences will know the Green Hornet as a Seth Rogen vehicle, and not much else.
This is a depressing and wholly undeserved fate for a character who’s been around in some form or other since the days when a family’s night in involved crowding around the wireless to listen to the latest radio broadcast.
There have been plenty of decent iterations of the character across various media in the years that followed, from a television show that launched Bruce Lee’s career in the West, to a recent comic book adaptation by Kevin Smith.
That Hollywood is returning to the Green Hornet well yet again now, though, is confusing to say the least. For the most part, by now, movie studios have realized that unless a comic book character belongs to Marvel or DC, a movie is going to have a really hard time competing against far bigger, more popular franchises.
This is a shame, as a well done Green Hornet movie could be a lot of fun. The problem is, there’s a reason why movie studios seem compelled by the character, and it’s somewhat cynical and exploitative.
The Green Hornet is a rich man with a cool car and a sidekick who decides to fight crime. He’s basically Green Batman—at least in the eyes of movie executives who are out to make a quick buck.
This is why the Green Hornet keeps resurfacing at different studios. A company will snap up the rights to what they think will be the next Batman, play around with the concept for a while, maybe release an awful movie, and then quickly ditch the character when they realize, late in the game, that Batman movies are only popular because people already know who the character is.
Fun fact: at one point, George Clooney was attached to a Green Hornet movie, but he instead shifted onto Batman and Robin. This is how comparable the two franchises are in the eyes of most movie studios—Britt Reid is a poor man’s Bruce Wayne, and anyone who might do a good job with a Green Hornet film will quickly jump ship if a Batman movie has an opening.
There is some ray of hope for this new movie, though. Gavin O’Connor is going to direct it.
His credentials aren’t that stellar at this point—aside from directing The Accountant, O’Connor doesn’t have much of note on his IMDB page.
What’s exciting, though, is his enthusiasm for the Green Hornet, and the optimism he has for the project.
Speaking with Deadline, O’Connor explained just how much this hero means to him:
“I’ve been wanting to make this movie — and create this franchise — since I’ve wanted to make movies. As a kid, when most of my friends were into Superman and Batman, there was only one superhero who held my interest — The Green Hornet. I always thought he was the baddest badass because he had no superpowers. The Green Hornet was a human superhero. And he didn’t wear a clown costume. And he was a criminal — in the eyes of the law — and in the eyes of the criminal world. So all this felt real to me.”
Normally when Hollywood talks about reimagining a superhero as “dark” and “gritty”, it’s a sign for concern. With O’Connor eagerly talking up the very human character of the Green Hornet, though, it’s easy to get caught up in his enthusiasm, and see why a grounded, realistic version of the character is exactly what the movie industry needs right now.
Superhero movies are getting bigger and more bombastic with every new release. Doctor Strange is shattering realities, Giant-Man is running amok in a superhero grudge match, and Batman v Superman has foregone any and all realism in favor of just letting Zack Snyder smash some of his least favorite CGI action figures together in front of a camera.
Gone are the Dark Knight superhero movies that aim to present a realistic portrayal of a hero that’s more human than super.
A faithful retelling of the pulp 1930s radio noir story, helmed by a man with a genuine passion for the character, could be just what’s lacking in a post-Dark Knight Rises world.
Or, it’ll be just as horrendously bad as the Seth Rogen movie, in which case, the character will get bounced to another studio and continue on in mediocrity forever.