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The Green Hornet
(1940-1941 Serials)
(2011 Film)

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"The Green Hornet" (1940 Serial)
"The Green Hornet Strikes Again!" (1941 Serial)
"The Green Hornet" (2011 Film)

The Green Hornet Strikes Again! (1941):  This is a good serial.  It's not the all-time best serial I've ever seen.  On the whole scale of things, not much happens to warrant 15 chapters.  12 would have been more than enough.  But the presentation is great.  And it's a must-see for anyone interested in the Green Hornet character.

    This is a good show, but not as good as the 1966 TV series.  The 1966 show, with Van Williams as Green Hornet and Bruce Lee as Kato, really knocks it out of the park.  It pretty much sets the standard for Green Hornet's look and feel.  But if you open your mind, you will find that this 1941 serial has its merits.

    What makes this serial different from the later TV series?

  1. Green Hornet's mask covers his entire face; not just his eyes and nose.
  2. Kato is still Hornet's costumed sidekick, but doesn't really fight or do much.
  3. Black Beauty is a regular car, although made to look a bit odd; it's not a "rolling arsenal".
  4. The only gadget Hornet seems to use is a stun gas gun.
  5. Michael Axford has a thick Irish accent; is a former police officer.

    The advantages of this show?

  1. I like how Green Hornet looks in both shows.  I must admit the mask that covers the whole face is a much more plausible idea than the mask in the TV show.  I mean, if someone gets a good look at Hornet's face, they'll realize it's Britt Reid eventually.  No one could ever tell by the mask used in this serial.
  2. Anne Nagel is lovely as Casey.  I'm also a great fan of Wende Wagner as Casey in the TV series.  I think Wende's portrayal might be a bit better, but mostly because she was given more to do than Anne.  But they're both stunning actresses.
  3. Wade Boteler as Michael Axford is funny and likable.  The Mike Axford of the TV series was great, too, but he was a pain in the butt.  The Axford of this serial isn't so harsh.

    The weaknesses of this show?

  1. Kato doesn't do martial arts.  Let alone fight very much.  And he always takes more punches than he delivers.  This sucks.  You've got to understand, though, that martial arts in movies at this time was nonexistant.  It was barely prevalent in the 1960s.  Bruce Lee is the one who really defined Kato as a kick-butt karate dude.  But Keye Luke is a wonderful Asian actor who I've always enjoyed.  He's a good ally for the Green Hornet.
  2. A big part of the Green Hornet's appeal, even before this in radio, was his use of gadgetry.  He only uses a stun gas gun in this serial.  His car is NOT the "rolling arsenal" we want to see.
  3. There's not much aim from one chapter to another.  It's just one little adventure after another and they decided to end it after 15 chapters.  The bad guy finally gets it in the last chapter.  He could have gotten it any time before this.  Not much changes from chapter to chapter.  No new plot twists or character development.  I'm disappointed there wasn't more of a romance between Britt and Casey.
  4. The major villain was not that cool.  He's a shadowy figure of a crime syndicate.  You would think he'd be masked or a bit more mysterious.  He's just an ordinary old guy.  They really didn't build up any suspense with him.  He was always just right out there.  A great hero always needs an equally great villain.
    What about the actors?

  1. Warren Hull is great as Green Hornet/Britt Reid!  He's a very smooth-looking guy.  Handsome.  What you'd call a pretty boy.  But that's what Britt Reid is supposed to be.  He's a pampered millionaire and the publisher of a major newspaper.  On top of all that, Warren is just a gentlemanly actor on screen.  I can believe he's a good guy.  I'd like to hear from anyone who knew Warren Hull in any way.
  2. Keye Luke is a fine actor.  I've always enjoyed his work.  It's neat that they made him Green Hornet's Kato.  As great as he is, I wish they would've made his Kato stand out more.  Here, Kato is basically a man-servant.  But he's very likable and he's convincing.
  3. Anne Nagel is cute as Casey.  She has kind of a funny voice, but she's cute just the same.  And she's a great actress.  I'd enjoy hearing from anyone who knew Anne Nagel in any way.
  4. Wade Boteler made a fine portrayal of Michael Axford.  In this serial, Mike has a thick Irish accent and we're told he was a former police officer.  He still dislikes the Hornet, but he's not out on a crusade to get the Hornet.  He's funny and likable.
  5. Eddie Acuff as Lowery was great.  He was Axford's reporter rival at the Sentinel.  It was a friendly rivalry, though, so you could still like him.  This was a nice touch; giving Axford someone to bounce off of.  The TV series didn't have a Lowery and it would've benefitted from having one.
  6. Dorothy Lovett played a dual role as Frances Grayson and her look-alike Stella Merja.  It was a bit part, but she stands out.  Dorothy is lovely.  She played both good and bad with such conviction.  I'd really like to learn more about her.
  7. Jean Brooks (Jeanne Kelly in this serial) played Gloria, Britt Reid's fling in the first two chapters of this serial.  She's another one I wanted to see more of.  Gloria was just a really likable woman.
  8. I like all the actors in this serial.  None of them were bad or "hacky".  But the bad guys don't really stand out for me.  It's not their fault, but it's hard to remember anonymous thugs with a stand-out hero like the Green Hornet.  I think the makers of this film should have given some of the villains interesting quirks.
  9. I would love to hear from anyone who knew anyone involved with the cast or crew of this serial.  PLEASE CONTACT ME!

The Green Hornet (2011):  I had my doubts about the film before I saw the trailer.  Then I still had my doubts until I watched the movie.  This movie is AWESOME!  One thing that got a lot of heat from critics, and even I was skeptic, was the casting of Seth Rogen as Green Hornet.  I enjoy Seth in his movies, but as a suave crimefighter?  No way.  How did it work?  The Green Hornet, himself, was far from being cool or perfect.  He has to grow up in this film and learn from his mistakes.  We NEVER see this in any other Green Hornet live-action attempt.  Britt Reid/Green Hornet was always slick and smooth in every single show.  Then again, no other Green Hornet show gave an origin story for the heroes of Green Hornet and Kato.  This is the only live-action outing that delivers a story about how Green Hornet and Kato meet, and how they took to fighting crime.  More important, we learn how they came across the idea of posing as criminals in order to fight crime.

    The acting, action, special effects, and story for this movie is incredible.  You'd have to be a rock-hard fudgee not to enjoy something about this movie.  This movie did make a good profit in theaters.  It didn't make "Batman" money, but I chalk that up to two factors.  One:  The Green Hornet has not been an A-list superhero since the 1960s.  Most people simply didn't know what Green Hornet was when this movie came out.  Two:  People that DO know Green Hornet will automatically try to compare this film to the classic TV series, which is still the best-known form of "Green Hornet" media.  And that's because Bruce Lee played Kato in that series before he reached super-stardom.  Why do I think this movie was a decent commercial success?  Probably because most people didn't know what Green Hornet was.  Ironic!  To the vast majority of movie goers, Green Hornet and Kato were new characters and the filmmakers had a lot of room to play around.

    I'm not trying to say this movie is so incredibly different from previous Green Hornet media that it's unrecognizable.  Far from it.  The look of the heroes, and the Black Beauty, is retained.  The idea of what Green Hornet does and how he operates is the same.  I'd say that this movie simply fleshes out the personalities of the characters and gives us a bigger and better story than "Green Hornet" ever had before.  It's a very respectable film.

    Jay Chou is excellent as Kato.  Bruce Lee was an incredible Kato before him but, in all respect, Jay gives the character more personality.  In this film we know Kato is a person and not a machine or a man-servant.  I guess Cameron Diaz was alright as Lenore "Casey" Case, but I think SHE was miscast.  Diaz is quite a bit older than Seth Rogen, and in all Green Hornet media the characters of Britt Reid and Lenore Case are supposed to be somewhat close in age and a potential couple.  I'm not convinced in this film that they could ever be a couple.  That is the only thing about this movie that doesn't jive with me.  Diaz gave a great acting performance, but they really should have cast someone a bit younger and more in-sync with Britt Reid and Kato.