Green Hornet Wasn't Always a Paunchy Jewish Canadian

Everybody's buzzing about how Seth Rogen is attached to play superhero Green Hornet in the movie adaptation he's also writing. That means most people will think of the Green Hornet as a paunchy, Jewish hero if this thing actually gets made. Since most audiences today aren't familiar with The Green Hornet, we've put a shorthand guide together for your edification.

  • The Green Hornet appeared on the radio back in 1936, pre-dating the first appearance of Batman by only three years. However, both men wear masks, have cars that do neat tricks, and feature sidekicks who save their bacon on more than one occasion.
  • Britt Reid, newspaper magnate by day, masked crimefighter by night, is The Green Hornet. He's a distant relative of The Lone Ranger (no, we aren't making this up) who travels around in a car he calls "Black Beauty." Hi-yo.
  • The Green Hornet is a wanted criminal in the city, and he uses that notoriety as leverage when dealing with criminals.
  • The only people who know the Hornet's identity are his secretary Lenore Case and the district attorney, Frank Scanlon.
  • The Green Hornet's sidekick and chauffeur Kato was changed from Japanese, to Filipino, to Korean during the run of the show, although he was famously played by Bruce Lee when the series came to television.
  • While he may not have worn a utility belt, The Green Hornet did use two specialized guns. One fired knockout gas, and the other one delivered "Hornet Stings" in the form of electric shocks.
  • His car featured drop-down tubes that could fire rockets, had a knockout gas nozzle, could launch a flying surveillance device from its trunk, and even featured "infra-green" headlights that could let the driver see in the dark.
  • On the radio, the Green Hornet's theme song was "The Flight of the Bumblebee," complete with a theremin providing the sound of a buzzing hornet.
  • When The Green Hornet came to television in 1966, it was on the heels of the success of Batman, and both programs aired on ABC. Although Batman was played up to be campy, The Green Hornet was played straight. Both series featured the same announcer, were made by the same production company, and wouldn't you know it... Batman met The Green Hornet on his show.

Sadly, The Green Hornet never had the sticking power that Batman did, probably because a newspaper publisher who punches people just isn't all that exciting. Batman had scads of nifty gadgets and a Batcave, but all The Green Hornet has is a couple of funky guns and a car that looks... like a car. As a radio serial, The Green Hornet worked best in your imagination, just like The Shadow did. When Alec Baldwin brought that character to the screen in 1994, it tanked pretty hard. Billy Zane's 1930's comic-strip movie adaptation The Phantom did even worse in 1996.

So maybe instead of trying to make film adaptations of popular radio dramas and comic strips from the 1930's, Hollywood should create something new and cool. As much as we love our imagination, there is just no way we can picture Seth Rogen as a pugilistic publisher with a secret identity.

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