Kevin Smith is best known as the director of such slacker classics as Clerks and Dogma, but he has been successfully moonlighting as a comics writer for years, working on such heroes as Green Arrow, Bat-Man and Daredevil. Now his two roles are coming together as he adapts his unproduced Green Hornet screenplay into a 10-issue mini series for Dynamite Entertainment, which debuts in March with art by Jonathan Lau and variant covers by Alex Ross, John Cassaday, Stephen Segovia and J. Scott Campbell.
The Green Hornet is a long lasting pulp character who has starred in comics, radio dramas, movie serials, TV shows and movies. The Hornet himself is Britt Reid, a newspaperman by day who fights crime at night, aided by his sidekick Kato. Smith kept the basic elements in place in his screenplay but changed Kato to a female sidekick.
Although initially reluctant to revisit his Green Hornet project — Smith pulled out of the film when he realized making a big budget action film wasn't something that was in his comfort zone — eventually Dynamite publisher Nick Barucci talked him into adapting it for a comic. "Nick brought up the script, " says Smith, "and I was like, 'Oh, the script I'd written for the flick.' It was the idea of, here's the terrible movie I never made and well I think it will appeal to both fans and haters. Fans will be like 'Wow man, that would have been cool. You should have done it.' Haters would be 'I knew you were an untalented dick, and now here's the proof. You get points for being smart enough for backing out but other than that, confirmed, epic fail! You fucking loser.' So I don't know, on that level the book works for both audiences and I'm pretty happy with that."
In adapting the screenplay for the page, Smith took full advantage of the fact that comics are so much cheaper to make than movies. "[The top comics artist] is a god," says Smith. "He can take you places that no one can take you in a movie, not even James fucking Cameron, because he is not limited by budgetary restrictions." With that in mind, Smith put back in some scenes he had cut from the screen version, some for technology but some more character driven.
"When you're making a movie, you're making one of these large movies for $70/$80 million budget or whatever it was going to be they want broad strokes, man," says Smith. "They just want to make sure everyone's always engaged, don't hit them with the boring, hit them with all the cream and whatnot. Character development stuff tends to go out the window first. There's a scene between Britt Reid, Sr. and his wife that I really, really liked from the script but right before I submitted the script it was too long, so I said 'You know what, the first scene they're going to cut out is between him and his wife because you never see her again so I'm going to take it out.'"
Although Smith's cinematic take on the Green Hornet was shelved, the character is now coming back at the end of 2010 in a movie starring Seth Rogen and directed by Michel Gondry. Despite some bumps, Smith feels the Green Hornet remains a pulp character who survives reinvention for audiences throughout the years. "I always thought that was rather clever because he doesn't have a lot of things going for him some other characters have, he doesn't have superpowers, he doesn't have the ten year's training that Bruce Wayne had to become the masked crime fighter that he is as Batman."