Monday, April 26, 2010

Trouble for the Green Hornet!

You have to wonder about Hollywood - the suits seem so out of touch with what people want. Witness the current Chinese firedrill going on over the Green Hornet movie - a movie which stars Seth Rogen, a guy who is great in comedies, made by director Michel Gondry, who wikipedia says is noted for his inventive visual style.

Who thought that would be a good combo?

Now, as I remember it - the Green Hornet television show was light entertainment back in the 60's, but it didn't really have a huge fan following. It sort of road in on the coattails of success the Batman 60's TV show, with the characters even having a couple of crossover episodes, but never really caught on as big. I think the shows biggest claim to fame is that it helped launch the career of Bruce Lee.

Outside of that - what is the public awareness factor of this character? Not much I'm willing to bet. Even among comics fans, the comics have never done that great. They Golden Age Holyoke series only ran for 6 issues. The character was then picked up by Harvey and published until issue 47. After that there was a one shot by Dell and some TV tie ins from Gold Key - nothing outstanding.

The Hornet probably had the best comics run in 1989 when NOW Comics reintroduced the character with a series that sort of sounds like a a complete mess, but was successful enough to warrant a few spinoffs. The Now version lasted up until 1995.

I think the jury is still out on the recent Dynamite relaunch, so I'll reserve judgement on that for now except to say I don't know how smart the publisher was with the deluge of first issues and mini-series right off the bat...

But back to the Hollywood suits and their infinite wisdom - let's see - a movie featuring a golden age comics hero with art house pretensions - where have we seen that formula before? Oh yeah...

Here:

and here:


Now, I don't really have proof that the Green Hornet movie will get the same reception as the Spirit or Dick Tracy, but I think the pieces were put in place so, that's probably how the game will play out. And now it appears the studio has seen some of the footage and is having the same thoughts as this week it was announced the movie's launch date would be moved from the prized December 22 holiday spot to MLK Day (January 14th) - not really a holiday known for boffo box office openings is it?

Oh well, we still have Raimi's Shadow movie to look forward to.

Enjoy today's free comics which featuer another gun drawing golden age hero - The Clock!


Feature Comics 29

Feature Funnies 19
- Enjoy!

8 comments:

Trey said...

I agree with your analysis, but I think your mischaracterizing the Green Hornet by casting him mostly as a comic book character--

Green Hornet debutted on radio on a program which lasted 16 years, and also starred in two movie serials.

I'm not arguing that these things are much remembered today, but a short-run Golden Age comic series isn't representative of the character's historical popularity.

cash_gorman said...

The earliest sign that Hollywood didn't get it was the hiring of Seth Rogen and the subsequent interviews of it being a sort of buddy/comedy picture.

I think there's a lot of potential for the Hornet as far as visuals go, that it would make an exciting visual movie. But, that cannot be on the sacrifice of the actual storytelling. I think the recent Sherlock Holmes movie has much of the right tone and style that would translate well for the Green Hornet though it's not a great Sherlock Holmes film. Cross that with the recent Batman movies, and you have the makings of a good movie. Just remember, Green Hornet is the star and hero. Kato is the sidekick. He's not Bruce Lee. So stop playing him as the kick-butt half of the duo. That alone is the kiss of death in an action movie.

I am a bit baffled by why Hollywood keeps going campy with superheroes. It doesn't sell. Other than briefly with the Batman series of the 60s, it has been a dismal failure almost every single time whether it's in movies or the comics. Superheroes are supposed to be about action, not comedy. Doesn't mean you cannot have some comedy and light elements, but the action and sense of danger and excitement should be paramount.

lukeblast said...

Hmm. I wasn't under the impression that Dick Tracy was held in low esteem. Then again, I'm obviously biased, given that it's in my top 10.

But still, I think the better comparison would have been to The Shadow, a movie I also love, despite its faults--and the faults are pretty much the same. All of the cast was brilliant save the star, and it went heavy on the visuals to make up for a weak and often unexplained story... visuals which it then messed up at every opportunity...

I think it did get the tone mostly right though, and your charge seems to be that Green Hornet won't even do that much.

JimShelley said...

@Trey - egads, are we really plumming the depths of radio-era stardom for movie franchises now? :D

Seriously - I acknowledge my ignorance as to the Green Hornet's esteemed legacy in the long dead radio format and eagerly await standing in line with all the senion citizens who listened to his exploits as young kids. ;)

JimShelley said...

@Cash_Gorman - YEAH - the recent Sherlock Holmes movie would have been a MUCH better route to take - not Grim and Gritty, but not campy either!

You know - I was thinking sort of along the lines of The Rock with Sean Connerly - which again isn't grim and gritty or campy but has _just_enough_ wink wink, nudge, nudge charm to it to keep you from cringing during the wrong moments, you know? Why is that type of movie so hard to make?

JimShelley said...

@Lukeblast - yeah, I sort of think The Shadow got most of intended story right - I don't really consider it on the same level as the mismatch we got with Dick Tracy (and I understand why you might like that, because I do too, but overall, I don't think mom and pop America got the movie they wanted...)

Paul said...

Seth Rogan and a comedic tone spells doom and death for this Green Hornet Movie.

Just like Sid & MArty Kroft releasing The Land OF The Lost as a comedy, when what made the original series so good was the serious aspects of it. It was good sci-fi! If they'd have went serious sci-fi it would have been great.

Back to Green Hornet. He was created by same guy who created Lone Ranger as a modern version of that hero. He had slightly above present day technology and lots of money with a partner who could fight his way through most top martial artists. What's not to like? Too bad the movie guys didn't get it.

Seems like they want to screw everything up lately. They ruined Superman, Star Trek, the last Batman movie, and the others mentioned here. Hollywood is way off base.

Paul said...

Seth Rogan and a comedic tone spells doom and death for this Green Hornet Movie.

Just like Sid & MArty Kroft releasing The Land OF The Lost as a comedy, when what made the original series so good was the serious aspects of it. It was good sci-fi! If they'd have went serious sci-fi it would have been great.

Back to Green Hornet. He was created by same guy who created Lone Ranger as a modern version of that hero. He had slightly above present day technology and lots of money with a partner who could fight his way through most top martial artists. What's not to like? Too bad the movie guys didn't get it.

Seems like they want to screw everything up lately. They ruined Superman, Star Trek, the last Batman movie, and the others mentioned here. Hollywood is way off base.

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