Wednesday, August 1

Where did the Green Hornet come from?

We all know the 60's television version of Batman with the campy attitude, colorful costumes and Pow! Wow! graphics. When it originally aired on ABC in 1966, it was paired with "The Green Hornet" that made Bruce Lee extremely popular. He played the Green Hornet's sidekick Kato. As a kid, I was curious about the Batman-Green Hornet crossover. I become aware of the series when the FX Channel started airing old shows like Batman, Wonder Woman, Dynasty, Fantasy Island, etc.; my dad watched the show as a kid and it was his favorite show. A few days ago, I watched the movie loosely based on Bruce Lee's life and they said the show was marketed as "The Kato Show" in Hong Kong. I was now curious if it was true and where did the Green Hornet originate from.

It happens to be that the Green Hornet started as a radio series in 1936 WXYZ's George W. Trendle and Fran Striker, who also created The Lone Ranger. Britt Reid, the newspaper publisher and crime-fighting vigilante was later revealed to be the blood relative of the Lone Ranger. The radio series lasted until 1952. The TV series only lasted one season and the last episode is consider non-canon, and as well as the Batman crossover. A short-lived comic book series started in 1940 and then went on and off from then. In 1989, NOW comics published The Green Hornet and established a continuity between the different versions of the story. In the comic, the TV/Bruce Lee version of Kato was the son of the Kato from the radio stories. The comic also established a new Kato, a much younger sister of the television character. This female Kato also insisted on being treated as the Hornet's full partner rather than a sidekick. Other projects were left unpublished since NOW folded.

Film serials were made in 1940 and feature films were edited from the television series and the film serials. A new film version has been in the works for decades. In the 1990s, the magazine Comics Scene reported that George Clooney and Jason Scott Lee were lined up to play the leads. As of the summer of 2004, Kevin Smith was writing a screenplay for a new rendition of The Green Hornet which was originally scheduled for release in 2005. It was rumored that Jet Li would portray Kato and Jake Gyllenhaal would play the Green Hornet. In 2004, Kevin Smith put the film on the back burner. At the 2006 Wondercon, Smith announced he was no longer officially linked with The Green Hornet.