The make “The Green Hornet” funny, Seth Rogen started by taking the superhero seriously – for a moment.
The comic actor and screenwriter tells PopcornBiz that before he could figure out how to mine laughs out of the crimefighter and his partner Kato, he and writing partner Evan Goldberg took a long look at the character’s nearly eight-decade history – which fortunately wasn’t that deep.
“There were a few benchmark, iconic things that people knew about 'The Green Hornet': Kato, the car, the gas gun – but that's pretty much it,” says Rogen.
A longtime comic book buff, Rogen was excited by the fact that there really wasn’t any dense comic book mythology for nitpicky fanboys to cling to. While the Green Hornet’s lingered in the public consciousness thanks to the original 1930s radio series, some 1940s cliffhanger serials, the single-season but still fondly recalled 1960s TV series – any comic book appearances were merely tie-ins to the showbiz center.
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“We went back to the radio show and the serials that were in movie theaters and the TV show, and we really tried to include ideas from all these things,” says Rogen, who admits borrowing a big plot point from the TV series but struggled finding inspiration in the now-antiquated radio broadcasts.
“We tried to listen to almost all the radio serials,” he says. “They're a little outdated – I guess back then just hearing footsteps for 30 seconds straight was really suspenseful and interesting, and the creaking of a door opening was real cinema at that time, but it's a little hard to sit through hours of it at this point for me. But I'm very stupid.”
No matter: a literal adaptation held no interest for Rogen. “You almost feel like anyone could pick up the first few editions of a comic book and say, 'I want to shoot this,' and then six months later you have the origin story of most superheroes,” he says. “That really didn't interest us in any way.”
“We really wanted to be able to inject our own sensibilities into it, and our own sense of humor,” Rogen explains. “We wanted to subvert notions that you would find in a lot of early origin stories of comic book characters. We wanted to dance on the line between being a comic book movie and commenting on a comic book movie.”