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THE GREEN HORNET: Forging a Different Kind of Comic Book Hero
By Tom Snyder, Editor
The new GREEN HORNET movie, which opens Friday, is not your typical superhero movie.
First, it’s more like an action comedy with lots of humor. Second, as in the traditional Green Hornet concept, the hero is a crime fighter who pretends to be a criminal in order to stop the bad guys. That means both the bad guys and the police are after the Green Hornet and his partner, Kato.
Seth Rogen, who stars as the Green Hornet and co-wrote the script with Evan Goldberg, adds:
“The simple plot was who’s the kind of guy who’s likely to become a superhero – probably someone who reads comic books and is a comic book fan, or is at least aware of them. But, in the writing, we wanted to subvert notions that are in a lot of comic book movies, that you would find in a lot of early origin stories.
“We wanted to dance on the line between being a comic book movie and commenting on a comic book movie.”
Rogen also said they didn’t want to just re-create the old comic book or 1966 television series.
“I would have no real interest in just doing a very literal interpretation of pre-existing material,” he said. “I see a lot of these comic book movies that come out now and you almost feel like anyone could pick up the first few editions of the comic book and take it to a DP [director of photography] and say, ‘I want to shoot this,’ and then six months later you have the origin story of those superheroes. That really didn’t interest us in any way.
“We really wanted to be able to inject our own sensibilities into it and our own sense of humor. At the same time, too, (insert) the things we love about superheroes and comic books ourselves.”
The filmmakers originally were criticized for bringing a comedy writing team to write and star in the movie, but Rogen had an answer to relieve any concerns fans may still have.
“Comedy should come from the characters,” he said. “It all should feel real and it shouldn’t feel like we’re being funny just for the sake of being funny.
“We really tried to approach the structure of the story in a somewhat traditional action movie sense. It was just how the characters related to one another that we hoped the humor would come from. . . . In editing was where we would figure it out. Sometimes a joke in the wrong place would make an otherwise dangerous scene feel completely not dangerous. . .. The editing was where we were really able to play with all that.”
Rogen admitted he and his writing partner, Evan Goldberg, did a “ton of research” in the beginning while creating the script.
“The way we write is we just start by making tons of just lists of ideas and thoughts and things we’d like to include in the movie. We went back to the radio program, the movie serials and the TV show. We really tried to include ideas from all these things, little just tips of the hat to the previous incarnations.”
For instance, one of the twists at the end actually comes from one of the stories in the TV series.
Director Michel Gondry said, while they wanted to pay homage to Bruce Lee, who became an international star when he played Kato on the 1966 TV show, they didn’t want to imitate exactly what Lee did on that show.
Jay Chou, who plays Kato in the movie, loves cars. In the movie, Kato builds the car, called the Black Beauty, that the Green Hornet and Kato use. And, he keeps improving on the car, especially after, at one point in the story, it gets completely demolished.
“If you see the Black Beauty,” Jay said, “it makes the James Bond car look sissy.”
In making the car for the movie, they stuck with the look from the 1966 TV show, a black Chrysler Imperial.
“We didn’t try to manufacture some new, exotic looking cool car,” Producer Neal Moritz said. “We stayed with something tested, tried and true [which] we ultimately felt was sexy and beautiful. Staying with that car is really a kind of hallmark of the movie. We don’t have characters with superhero powers. Our superhero in the movie is the car.”
Rogen added, “Once that car showed up, it all seemed okay.”