Have to admit that this one caught us off guard.
Paramount Pictures is planning, of all things, a reboot of The Green Hornet. Director Gavin O'Connor (The Accountant, Warrior) is developing an entirely new take on the masked crime fighter, who was last seen on the screen in a 2011 action comedy that starred Seth Rogen in the title role and did not exactly set the box office on fire.
But O'Connor apparently thinks there is still potential in the character, a wealthy newspaper publisher named Britt Reid who fights crime at night alongside his partner Kato from their technologically advanced auto, the Black Beauty. The director is already working on a script with Sean O'Keefe that he says will "re-mythologize The Green Hornet in a contemporary context."
O’Connor is quite passionate about the project, as he told Deadline:
"I’ve been wanting to make this movie -- and create this franchise -- since I’ve wanted to make movies. 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."
O’Connor also revealed that he had been tracking the rights to the property for nearly 20 years, and when they became available again after the 2011 movie flopped, he snagged them:
"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."
The director also described his take on the character, which sounds quite a bit different from the 2011 version -- or any previous version, for that matter:
"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...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]."
In case those last two references confused you, O'Connor's version of Reid will have military experience that he categorized as "more CIA Special Activities Division than Seal Team 6."
Look, I admire the guy's obvious enthusiasm for the project, and it's true that while the 2011 film was a stiff, that was partially because Rogen, his writing partner Evan Goldberg, director Michel Gondry and the studio were all at odds over what kind of movie they were making, a battle that manifested itself in both the final product and its marketing.
But could a grittier, more weighty Green Hornet hit the mark with audiences? Although the character was created in 1936 and starred in radio shows, film serials, a TV series and comic books, the property was more or less consigned to obscurity (except for comic books) for the better part of the last 50 years. In an era when a number of big-budget films trading on dusty nostalgia -- including The Lone Ranger, John Carter and The Green Hornet itself -- have failed to connect with new fans, why should this be any different?
It looks like we'll get another chance to find out.