who for the better part of four years has been trying to get “The Green
Hornet” feature film off the ground despite changes to the script, the
tone, the director and, well, pretty much everything except the hero’s
cool customized car.
The comedy-action movie, finally, has a solid
release date set for January and Rogen, who stars in the title role and
co-wrote the script, brought the film to
on Friday to begin a public campaign to take the film’s street
credibility from zero level to hero level. You’ll have to forgive the
native if he moans about all the other superhero properties that fly
much faster and far straighter on their way to movie theaters.
“I had a meeting with Fox the other day and they
have all of the ‘X-Men: First Class’ stuff up on the wall,” Rogen said
of the Marvel Comics adaptation, which didn’t even have a director
until May but is now being fast-tracked for release next summer. “Look
at the way that movie is happening. It could have the worst script in
the world, the worst director in the world — not that it does, but it
could have those things — and there’s no way the movie isn’t going to
get made. Our movie was not like that.”
Rogen, sitting in a
restaurant, sighed and then jabbed at his side salad with a fork. The
actor, who shed plenty of weight to play the title role in “Hornet,”
seems alternately irked and impressed by his struggle to make “Hornet,”
which Rogen co-wrote with
“It’s been a project of passion, and that’s the only reason we kept it going,” Rogen said.
In the movie, Rogen plays
an amateur gumshoe trying to puzzle out the story behind the new
mystery man zooming around the city in a weaponized 1966 Imperial
Crown, nicknamed the Black Beauty.
That the film will hit theaters in January is not
exactly a sign of studio confidence — the conventional logic is that
post-holiday weekends are the doldrums for
Even slimmed-down, Rogen isn’t the dashing,
action-hero type — that’s where much of the film’s comedy comes from —
but Green Hornet has a far different heritage than Batman, Spider-Man,
Wolverine or the comic-book properties that moviegoers have met in
Superman introduced the modern concept of the
superhero and the comic book in 1938, but two years earlier, the Hornet
was already wearing his mask and fighting gangland hoods — it’s just
that he was doing it on the radio dial, not the printed page. The
Hornet was created by
was originally portrayed as Japanese, a heritage that was changed by
1940 as the American perception of
The Hornet was featured in movie serials in 1940 and
1941 but never really made much impact as a comic-book character. In
the modern consciousness, he is remembered primarily because of a brief
stint on 1960s television and the legacy of one man:
Gondry, who grew up in
was drawn to the Hornet character first by the aura around Lee and his
life and then, later, he felt the property was one that would allow him
to make a film that was decidedly not art house. “My archetypes of a
great movie are ‘RoboCop’ and ‘Back to the Future,'” Gondry said.
“Those are maybe my two favorites.”
For Rogen, the appeal of a “Hornet” movie was to put
a volatile friendship in the center of an action-comedy that had
superhero layers on top of that.
“The two guys who try to be superheroes, and their
own relationship is really the biggest thing they have to overcome,
that was always the idea,” Rogen said. “People are trying to kill them
and all that, but if they can figure out how to work together, then the
rest is fine.”
to direct the film and to play Kato, but his version of funny didn’t
sync up with Rogen and Goldberg’s. The arrival of Gondry in
“He has a son, and that gave him some insights, and
we really expanded on all of that,” Rogen said. “Also, while keeping in
the tone of this realistic movie, we needed moments that kind of crack
it open and visually explore things that don’t 100 percent fall into
the realistic world. It’s — more than any of our movies — not a strict
comedy. It was hard to get to this point, but now we’re here, and it’s
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