A Different Kind Of Superhero
Director Michel Gondry takes one of the least celebrated comic book heroes and polishes him up for the big budget superhero movie The Green Hornet.
Possibly one of the least-respected superheroes in history, even major fans of comic books have little knowledge of The Green Hornet, the masked hero in the new flick written by and starring Seth Rogen. First created for an American radio show in the thirties before becoming a TV series in the sixties, The Green Hornet follows Britt Reid (Rogen), a newspaper publisher by day who transforms into a crime fighting vigilante at night. He's accompanied by his valet and martial arts expert, Kato (Jay Chou), who drives The Black Beauty, a speed racer which comes equipped with all manner of high powered weaponry and advanced technology.
Various directors came and went from the project before unconventional French filmmaker Michel Gondry (Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind, The Science Of Sleep, Be Kind Rewind) was enlisted. Describing his own long involvement with the film, Gondry sighs wearily. "Fourteen years ago, I was attached to direct at Universal," he begins. "The script was completely different, and it was written by Edward Neumeier, who wrote Robocop and Starship Troopers. I wasn't the first choice as director. They asked several people, and eventually they all bailed. They asked me, so I left France to come to LA twelve years ago, and abandoned my son a little bit. So I thought that this [Rogen's The Green Hornet] would be a nice way to repay him, because I felt guilty for spending all that time working on a movie that didn't happen. It felt natural to come back to The Green Hornet with this new approach."
The director enjoyed the unique take on the superhero genre and the comedic style shared on screen between Rogen and Chou. "I really like the unassuming humour that you don't usually find in the superhero genre. I'm glad to bring this lighter tone to the genre, mixing action and comedy. That kind of thinking was popular in some eighties movies, and it brought me back to my childhood a little bit. I was interested in the friendship between Seth and Jay, which is the kind of thing that is at the core of Seth and [co-writer] Evan Goldberg's buddy movies [Superbad, The Pineapple Express]. The Green Hornet is absent of the macho aspect expected from most superhero films. All the previous scripts lacked humour and were too serious with too much attitude."
Working with a large budget was also new to Gondry. "It's like everything," he reflects philosophically. "You always adapt. At first, you think that it will be so political and restrictive, but then there is a lot of room for creativity. There were a lot of differences in opinion, but together we found a way to make everybody excited."
The Green Hornet is released on January 20. For more on The Green Hornet, be sure to pick up our huge Jan/Feb double issues on sale now which features a four page feature on the film, including interviews with, among others, star Seth Rogen.