The Green Hornet. Legendary comic book character to some, and to others, a terrible Seth Rogen movie. This is a character that once, back in the 60’s, went toe-to-toe in popularity with Batman. Sadly, this emerald colored crimefighter got reduced to stoner material with Michel Gondry and Seth Rogen‘s 2011 superhero comedy. While some enjoyed the laughs and action (“Kato-vision” was also a really neat take on “bullet time.”), it completely failed to bring this once famous character back into the spotlight, and instead, got remembered as the movie where Seth Rogen wasn’t fat anymore.
Well, hey, don’t count a good superhero down. In a world where Spider-Man can get multiple reboots, so can’t every other superhero. The Green Hornet is coming back! This time from a director in much more capable hands.
Deadline reports that Gavin O’Connor (The Accountant) has set his sites on The Hornet, with screenwriter Sean O’Keefe (Riders on the Storm) on a draft of the script. O’Connor, who’s other work also includes Miracle and Warrior, according to Deadline, wants to make his version of Brett Reid “a hunter at the top of the Special Operations food chain.”
Of, course, that one excerpt will prompt an immediate “uh, wut?!”. O’Connor, in actuality, seems to have a deep appreciation for the character, along with a longstanding desire to make this comic book adaptation. As O’Connor puts it:
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. Imagine climbing to the top of the Himalayas, or Mount Everest, or K2 over and over again and no one ever knew? You can never tell anybody. That’s the life of Britt and Kato. What they do, they can never say. They don’t take credit for anything.
O’Connor went on to explain his vision for Fran Striker and George W. Trendle‘s character, who made his debut on radio in 1936 before showing up in other mediums:
For almost twenty years now I’ve been tracking the rights, watching from the sidelines as they were optioned by one studio or another. When I discovered the rights were available again, I tracked them down, partnered with Peter Chernin and we set the movie up at Paramount. With the rights now in our loving hands, I’m beyond excited to bring The Green Hornet into the 21st century in a meaningful and relevant way; modernizing it and making it accessible to a whole new generation. My intention is to bring a gravitas to The Green Hornet that wipes away the camp and kitsch of the previous iteration. I want to re-mythologize The Green Hornet in a contemporary context, with an emphasis on story and character, while at the same time, incorporating themes that speak to my heart. The comic book movie is the genre of our time. How do we look at it differently? How do we create a distinctive film experience that tells itself differently than other comic book movies? How do we land comfortably at the divide between art and industry? How do we go deeper, prompt more emotion? How do we put a beating heart into the character that was never done before? These are my concerns…these are my desires, my intentions, my fears, my goals.
The director describes The Green Hornet as a story about self-discovery:
When we meet Britt Reid he’s lost faith in the system. Lost faith in service. In institutions. If that’s the way the world works, that’s what the world’s going to get. He’s a man at war with himself. A secret war of self that’s connected to the absence of his father. It’s the dragon that’s lived with him that he needs to slay. And the journey he goes on to become The Green Hornet is the dramatization of it, and becomes Britt’s true self. I think of this film as Batman upside down meets Bourne inside out by way of Chris Kyle [American Sniper]. He’s the anti-Bruce Wayne. His struggle: Is he a savior or a destroyer? Britt made money doing bad things, but moving forward he’s making no money doing good things. He must realize his destiny as a protector and force of justice by becoming the last thing he thought he’d ever become: his father’s son. Which makes him a modern Hamlet. By uncovering his past, and the truth of his father, Britt unlocks the future.”
O’Connor said the character has the requisite physical skills to qualify as a badass:
Britt’s shadow war background makes him a natural at undercover work. This is connected to his military backstory, which is more CIA Special Activities Division than SEAL Team 6. He’s cross-trained in intelligence work and kinetic operations. A hunter at the top of the Special Operations food chain, working so far outside the system he had to think twice to remember his real name. We will put a vigilante engine under the hood of his character/
O’Connor clearly has strong feelings about what the character is in his mind’s eye and what he can be. Sounds promising, and certainly as far removed from the campy 60s series and Seth Rogen’s botched attempt at the character. Maybe a little too off-center. The Green Hornet was never about just the Green Hornet, it was always a two-man team – The Green Hornet and his sidekick Kato. Hornet was the brains and Kato was his muscle. Both could fight, yes, but Hornet used gadgets and a tricked out car and Kato used his fists and feet. O’Connor’s Hornet, seems to put much more emphasis on The Hornet’s skillset and not enough duality between him and his partner Kato.
The character/material has everything to become a great film character on its own – cool theme song, cool car, cool sidekick, cool look. O’Connor certainly seems to have the vigor for a fresh adaptation. The branding awareness, however, and this speaks to O’Connor’s own concerns, is not strong – not when it’s up against all the other big superhero movies coming in. With all the things O’Connor wants to do with The Green Hornet, seems the best place to exercise it all would be in television format ala a Netflix or Amazon series.
No word yet on production or proposed release. Likely, though, this will sit in developmental limbo for a while.