Yesterday, Deadline reported that Paramount Pictures and Chernin Entertainment acquired the rights to The Green Hornet. Leading the way is Gavin O’Connor who is set to direct. O’Connor plans to work closely with writer Sean O’Keefe and take the classic campy television show and overhaul it, turning the leading man Britt Reid into a more edgy protagonist who would be capable of carrying a new franchise.
For those of you who are unfamiliar with The Green Hornet, it’s best known for its 60’s television show that starred Van Williams as Britt Reid and catapulted Bruce Lee’s career starring as his sidekick Kato. The most recent attempt at recreating this franchise came from Seth Rogen in 2011, putting his own action-comedy spin on the character.
Paramount, Chernin, and O’Connor look to have a fresh start by reinventing the franchise in a darker setting, just as Christopher Nolan did with the Dark Knight Trilogy. O’Connor’s most recent work is The Accountant starring Ben Affleck and his past films also include Warrior, Pride And Glory and Miracle. Poised to capture the essence of the original 20’s radio show and 40’s comic, O’Connor seems to be the right man for the job.
While speaking to Deadline, O’Connor had this to say:
I’ve been wanting to make this movie — and create this franchise — since I’ve wanted to make movies,” O’Connor said. “As a kid, when most of my friends were into Superman and Batman, there was only one superhero who held my interest — The Green Hornet. I always thought he was the baddest badass because he had no superpowers. The Green Hornet was a human superhero. And he didn’t wear a clown costume. And he was a criminal — in the eyes of the law — and in the eyes of the criminal world. So all this felt real to me. Imagine climbing to the top of the Himalayas, or Mount Everest, or K2 over and over again and no one ever knew? You can never tell anybody. That’s the life of Britt and Kato. What they do, they can never say. They don’t take credit for anything.
It’s safe to say this film is twenty years in the making for O’Connor who says he’s been closely tracking the rights to this franchise for quite some time:
For almost 20 years now I’ve been tracking the rights, watching from the sidelines as they were optioned by one studio or another- When I discovered the rights were available again, I tracked them down, partnered with Peter Chernin and we set the movie up at Paramount. With the rights now in our loving hands, I’m beyond excited to bring The Green Hornet into the 21st century in a meaningful and relevant way; modernizing it and making it accessible to a whole new generation. My intention is to bring a gravitas to The Green Hornet that wipes away the camp and kitsch of the previous iteration. I want to re-mythologize The Green Hornet in a contemporary context, with an emphasis on story and character, while at the same time, incorporating themes that speak to my heart. The comic book movie is the genre of our time. How do we look at it differently? How do we create a distinctive film experience that tells itself differently than other comic book movies? How do we land comfortably at the divide between art and industry? How do we go deeper, prompt more emotion? How do we put a beating heart into the character that was never done before? These are my concerns…these are my desires, my intentions, my fears, my goals.
These ambitious goals make it apparent that The Green Hornet is in the right hands. O’Connor is on the right track as the “misunderstood anti-hero” is a popular character right now in the superhero genre.
The Green Hornet is ultimately a film about self-discovery- When we meet Britt Reid he’s lost faith in the system. Lost faith in service. In institutions. If that’s the way the world works, that’s what the world’s going to get. He’s a man at war with himself. A secret war of self that’s connected to the absence of his father. It’s the dragon that’s lived with him that he needs to slay. And the journey he goes on to become The Green Hornet is the dramatization of it, and becomes Britt’s true self. I think of this film as Batman upside down meets Bourne inside out by way of Chris Kyle [American Sniper]. He’s the anti-Bruce Wayne. His struggle: Is he a savior or a destroyer? Britt made money doing bad things, but moving forward he’s making no money doing good things. He must realize his destiny as a protector and force of justice by becoming the last thing he thought he’d ever become: his father’s son. Which makes him a modern Hamlet. By uncovering his past, and the truth of his father, Britt unlocks the future.
O’Connor’s passion and knowledge for the character of Britt Reid are astounding, categorizing him as a badass:
Britt’s shadow war background makes him a natural at undercover work. This is connected to his military backstory, which is more CIA Special Activities Division than SEAL Team 6. He’s cross-trained in intelligence work and kinetic operations. A hunter at the top of the Special Operations food chain, working so far outside the system he had to think twice to remember his real name. We will put a vigilante engine under the hood of his character-
This is all work that O’Keefe will be taking on while writing the script. O’Keefe recently adapted the video game franchise Watch Dogs for Ubisoft, Sony Pictures, and New Regency. He also adapted The Esperanza Fire for Legendary.