‘Green Hornet’ Cheat Sheet: Everything You Need To Know

Superhero film took a winding path to the big screen, and we've been there the whole way.

When did the story of the Seth Rogen-starring, Michel Gondry-directed “Green Hornet” begin? Does it go all the way back to the superhero’s adventures on 1930s-era radio, or does it begin with the 1966 TV series that made Bruce Lee a star?

Perhaps instead we should begin in the early ’90s with Hollywood’s attempt to revive the dormant franchise. There are enough twists and turns there to form the basis of an entire master class in major-studio development hell. The title role, in its various incarnations, was reportedly at one time or another offered to everyone from George Clooney to Greg Kinnear. Directors (including Gondry in the late ’90s) and screenwriters came and went. Studios traded rights to the property.

Then, in stepped Rogen and writing partner Evan Goldberg with an outline for the movie in fall 2007. More than three bump-and-bruise-filled years later, “The Green Hornet” finally hit theaters Friday (January 14). How did it get there? What do you need to know before checking out the action/comedy about a rich kid named Britt Reid who turns himself into a superhero with the help of sidekick/genius Kato? All your questions will be answered with MTV News’ “Green Hornet” cheat sheet.

The Green Hornet Meets Red-Faced Fans
Initial fan reaction to the pairing of Rogen with the superhero material was not kind, and the vitriol seemed never to let up. “People just love bitching,” he laughed during a July ’08 interview with MTV News. “Hopefully, people will see it and say, ‘Oh, yeah, they can kind of do that, maybe we’ll give them an easier time.’ ”

Seeking to attract some action-flick cred, Rogen recruited Stephen Chow (“Kung Fu Hustle”) both to direct and to star as Kato. Seeking as well to establish himself as a believable superhero, Rogen hit the gym and began to shed a lot of weight.

Then, just like that, Chow was gone as director. And Rogen was screwed. But he and Sony Pictures regrouped, signed Gondry and pushed forward with the project.

You’re Perfect, Now Change
Nothing, it seemed, would come easy for “Green Hornet.” In summer ’09, the film’s release date was pushed back from June 25 to July 9, 2010. Then Chow skipped out on playing Kato. And then Nicolas Cage, who was set to play the film’s main villain, ditched the production too. The release was once again pushed back, this time to winter 2010. “Every possible obstacle came in our way at one point or another, to the point that it really just got ridiculous,” Rogen told us later.

The crew again regrouped, signing Oscar-winner Christoph Waltz to play the villain, alongside Jay Chou as Kato and Cameron Diaz as Reid’s assistant. Production began in fall ’09.

“I tried to be very precise,” Gondry told MTV News during the South by Southwest Film Festival last March. “I tried to redefine fights in my own style.”

Seriously, Though, Change Again!
By spring of last year, things were getting ridiculous. Sony had decided to convert the film to 3-D and yet again pushed back the release date: January 14, 2011, it would be.

No matter! The first official image popped up online in June, followed by the trailer. The footage was funny, eye-popping stuff. Hey, maybe this thing wasn’t going to be so bad after all? The second trailer, which dropped in November, backed up that initial impression. And when audiences started to check out early screenings of the film, it turned out they actually liked the movie, that it neatly balanced comedy and action, that it wasn’t, as so many Web-based bloviators suggested, the worst movie in the history of the world.

“It is nice that people actually have to base their assumptions on the movie now and not just what they think the movie is going to be like,” Rogen laughed.

Check out everything we’ve got on “The Green Hornet.”

For breaking news and previews of the latest comic book movies — updated around the clock — visit SplashPage.MTV.com.