The film version of The Green Hornet had been in Development Hell since the mid-1990s. One rumor circa 1996 had George Clooney (who ultimately passed in order to do Batman & Robin) and Jason Scott Lee (Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story) cast as the Green Hornet and Kato. The most solid adaptation rumors after this had Kevin Smith writing and directing before bowing out due to personal doubts about handling so big a project.The eventual creative team was director Michel Gondry and starring Seth Rogen (who also co-wrote the script) and Taiwanese singer Jay Chou. As for its Super Hero Origin, Britt Reid is the spoiled and lazy son of a newspaper tycoon and he is given a wake-up call when his dad dies and the responsibility is passed on to him. Now completely lost without the opportunity to piss off his dad, he strikes up a friendship with Gadgeteer Genius and martial arts master Kato. This leads to a night of drunken vandalism when they end up foiling a late-night robbery/rape attempt.Feeling a sense of accomplishment for the first time in their lives, they set out as vigilantes to track down the criminal underworld, with their particular angle being that they are acting as rival criminals. Britt uses the resources of his fathers paper and the intelligence of his secretary, Lenore Case, to unknowingly further their mission. This catches the attention of the underground kingpin Chudnofsky, who wants them dead.
More of irony than allusion, but Jay's breakout role in his native Taiwan also involved hard-and-fast driving in a Live-Action Adaptation, as Takumi in Initial D. The scene with Kato playing with a basketball also alludes to Jay's earlier movie, Kung Fu Dunk. And the massacre of several gangsters just for wearing green parallels a plot point from Curse of the Golden Flower. This is basically Meet Jay Chou: The Movie.
James Franco as a meth dealer. What was his last movie with Seth Rogen? Pineapple Express.
Almighty Janitor: Kato, the car mechanic and coffee guy who could kick your ass five ways at once.
Apparently Powerless Puppetmaster: Anyone who hears Britt Reid speak for five minutes realizes he is a buffoonish Man Child. His father left him the Sentinel, but obviously Britt is a Rich Idiot with No Day Job who cannot do anything for himself. Then you realize he doesn’t need to do anything for himself: he continuously and successfully manipulates people much more intelligent than him (Kato, Casey and Mike Axford) into doing exactly what Britt wants them to do.
Bad Boss: Chudnofski plays this chillingly straight.
Kato in light of the following: Being called a sidekick, Being poked, getting cheapshoted in a fight, and being asked to make coffee especially if asked by the one who told him not to waste his potential in making coffee.
You also do not want to tell Chudnofsky that he's not scary.
Bilingual Bonus: Kato actually says "I spent three months" in Mandarin before correcting himself and switching to English. "I spent three weeks..." And for the record, he's ranting "that idiot will be the death of me" after his argument with Britt leads to Lenore hitting him as well.
Case watches Russian news as the two boys run into her house. The real treat is that the text is read by a real Russian and not in what passes for the language in Hollywood.
Bullet Time: Kato's combat perspective (and subsequent ass-kicking) is rendered like this. Ironically, one of the more realistic elements of the film, as seasoned fighters' advanced reaction time (plus adrenaline) does make time seem to slow down and space to distort. (The best part is that Kato is drunk when he's doing this.) Parodied when Britt even tries it toward the end, though he has a hard time controlling his momentum and using an Improvised Weapon.
Byronic Hero: Britt is this trope personified: Ungrateful, deluded, ungrateful, egomaniacal, self-centered, ungrateful, immature, stupid and did we mention ungrateful. He is not shown to have one decent or redeeming quality about him - even after he manages to drive away Kato, until his extravagant efforts to promote the Hornet as a menace resulted in the deaths of seven innocents who just happened to be wearing green. His horror at the consequences of his selfishness is the first time we get to see a decent and heroic side to him, and he gets better from there.
Card-Carrying Villain: Chudnofsky. Cares a lot about people being scared of him. Takes great pride in his double barreled handgun. Later gives himself a supervillain name and comes up with a very bad Pre-Mortem One-Liner.
Invoked deliberately with the Green Hornet, with literal cards and an email address.
Car Fu: Oh my, let me count the ways... We have the Black Beauty, three industrial trucks, a flying construction vehicle, a rolling cement tank, the replacement Black Beauty, various normal cars, the front half of the Black Beauty. And no motorcycles, even though this Kato owns aCool Bike.
Also, the suicide doors contain machine guns. Pretty much every inch of the car contains machine guns. Or rockets.
Cool Garage: Britt uses it in the beginning to impress a date. Britt's dad doesn't like his garage being used for that.
Cool Gun: Chudnovsky's double barreled handgun. The barrels can move to automatically target someone.
Crazy Awesome: In-universe, Britt's description of Kato basically boils down to this.
"You're like a human Swiss Army Knife!... it's a thing that you keep pulling things out of, every time you think you're done pulling out things, another cool thing pops right out and that's you!"
Creator Backlash: Seth Rogen has recently admitted that the making of this movie, and its subsequent failure, was a "nightmare," adding that he'd "sooner not work for a year," then do a sequel. Michel Gondry also recently bemoaned his lack of creative freedom on the film, and regrets directing it.
Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: In the movie incarnation, Britt Reid isn't as suave, but there are times when he is able to more than hold his own. The end of the film basically showcases this as he becomes the Green Hornet most people know.
If you look at the fights, Britt does pretty well in one on one situations when he isn't panicking (he can throw a pretty good hook).
He can also take quite a bit of punishment. In his fight with Kato both land some extremely good hits. Justified for Kato, as he's a martial arts expert who has fought all his life, but Britt is a spoiled creampuff with no training. Apparently getting beat up so much in school taught him how to take a hit.
Being One Head Taller and about a hundred pounds heavier probably helped too.
Cruel and Unusual Death: Chudnovsky gets speared through both eyes with two halves of an office desk leg, courtesy of Kato.
Deadpan Snarker: Kato is much more of a smart-ass this time around, and with good reason, being saddled with an idiot like Britt.
Dead Person Conversation: Invoked and parodied when Britt spends five minutes, with a dumb look on his face, piecing the facts together in his head with his father after Scanlon practically spelled it out.
Deconstruction / Reconstruction: Arguably of the Hero/Sidekick dynamic. Two people with strong enough personalities to dress up in costumes, fill multiple cars with enough guns to take out a small country, and spend their nights kicking criminals asses without a care to the police are not going to work effectively in that kind of partnership. Since the movie is a bit more optimistic than, say, The Dark Knight, Britt and Kato eventually learn how to work together.
Desperately Looking for a Purpose in Life: Kato. How desperate? After a series of failed, if educational, careers (stuntman, chemist, engineer) he immediately jumps at the chance to go crimefighting with his dead boss' deviant of a son.
Did Not Get the Girl: Given that both of the main characters compete for the same girl, this is a given. Neither one gets her.
Disappeared Dad: James. He was physically present only when it was time to say how much of a disappointment to him Brit was. Otherwise, he had 750 employees to take care of and too bad about Brit missing his departed mother.
Disney Villain Death: Played with. Scanlon falls to his death out of a window of the Sentinel building, but only because Kato rams him with the Black Beauty. And then the Black Beauty lands on him.
Dump Them All: In the end, Lenore is only interested in a working relationship with Britt and Kato, though both of them have been pursuing her romantically.
Dyeing for Your Art: Seth Rogen trimmed down noticeably for this role, even looking a bit gaunt after his 11-day coma (though that's probably down to lighting).
Engineered Public Confession: Britt manages to get Scanlon to confess to his father's murder and various crimes as part of a Breaking Speech, which he records onto a flash drive. Well, he thought he did anyway, before Britt realized it was completely blank. Oops.
Evil Makeover: At the end of the film, Chud... BLOODNOFSKY feels he needs to begin to emulate the Green Hornet, dressing in fine, crimson suits. Funnily enough, this is exactly what Crystal Clear told him at the beginning of the film.
Eye Scream: Chud... BLOODNOFSKY tries to pull this on Kato with his double-barreled handgun. Kato returns the favor by stabbing two pieces of wood into his eye sockets.
Family-Unfriendly Death: Scanlon is still recognizably intact even after falling more than ten stories while being crushed by half a car. Chudnofsky had none of his luck.
Fanservice: Lenore Case (Cameron Diaz), particularly at the end.
Anybody notice the chick at the beginning? She was wearing a clear bra just barely covering.
Foreshadowing: one of the outfits Britt tries out for his Green Hornet thing is seen again on one of the hoodlums who get massacred later on.
Freudian Excuse: As much as an unlikable jerk Britt may be, he gave up on trying to be a good person as a child when his father told him straight out that he should not bother trying because he fails at everything.
Funny Background Event: When Kato "carries out" the hit on Britt in the Japanese restaurant, one of the dozens of panicky yells from around them is actually "it's the Green Hornet's sidekick!"
The Garfunkel: Britt Reid is basically useless in the first few fights, gets himself in situations he can't handle all the time (he's a pretty competent one-on-one fighter, but he tends to get entire gangs after him at once), he's a glory-hogging egotist and his major contribution to the Black Beauty is suggesting ejector seats. In contrast, Kato builds all of their toys and is an expert martial artist who can take out entire gangs at once. Eventually lampshaded when Britt accuses Kato of being this instead during their big fight. Britt gets better in the final fight.
Gas Mask Mooks: Lampshaded. Chudnofsky starts wearing one as part of his new persona. When he and his minions end up in a situation where gas masks are actually useful, Scanlon demands to know why no one else was issued one.
Genre Savvy: When Britt thinks of spinning the Green Hornet as a villain to avoid common superhero pitfalls.
Goggles Do Nothing: An odd example. The gas mask worn by Chud... BLOODNOFSKY is useful when the heroes throw knockout gas around. Then it hinders him when the lenses get fogged up. Both situations were completely unexpected, though he was only wearing it to look scary. He never thought of an actual function for it to have.
Good Is Not Nice: The protagonists. Britt and Kato's initial motivation for becoming vigilantes was boredom, and Britt still acts like a jerk as he gets more into the act. They also have few scruples when it comes to taking the lives of criminals (They outright murder DA Scanlon) or wounding the police if the situation calls for it. They're not mean or cynical though, they just don't care because they (in their minds) really have nothing at stake and nothing to lose.
Groin Attack: There's a lot of them in the film, mostly by Kato.
Guns Akimbo: Chudnofsky is most known (before his reinvention) for his double-barreled Hand Cannon. It can even spread the barrels apart to fire at different targets.
Britt specifically brings up a number of problems with being a 'hero' and concludes that appearing as a 'villain' will give him more freedom to act. Interestingly, at least initially this could be justified as a desire to find the man who desecrated his father's grave - and then he becomes an 'actual' menace.
Britt: He's my man. Kato: I'm not your man. Britt: He's not my "man" man, he's my... we're platon- it's platon- we're just platonic male friends... [looks at Kato, who nods] Britt: YES.
Hidden Depths: Averted with Britt, aside from his being able to take some punishment and his 5-minute jaunt into truth-o-visionnote note that the conclusion he arrived at goes beyond what Scanlon told him, but mostly consisted of him staring into space like an idiot. Amusingly, Kato is entirely this.
Hyper Competent Sidekick: Kato in the 2010 movie. He built Black Beauty (and several duplicates), made all the toys he and Green Hornet use, fights like he came off the set of The Matrix, and did many of the things his partner is given credit for. Reid, by comparison, is a klutzy, stupid man with no combat training who leads mostly because Kato doesn't make the effort to. This is endlessly lampshaded.
And somewhat deconstructed as it more or less becomes the basis to the film's conflicts.
I Am Not Lefthanded: The Black Beauty has one final gimmick for slipping away from the cops - color changing.
Britt swings around an office chair's five-point wheels in the final fight... just before tripping.
Indy Ploy: Invoked by Britt, thinking he's gotten it down after the first time. Kato's luck is just a little better.
"What are you doing?!" "Either killing us or saving us!"
Inner Monologue: Britt has one when he finally pieces everything together in the Hibachi restaurant. This is lampshaded immediately afterward when he's told he had been sitting in his chair with the same dumb look on his face for the last 5 minutes.
Innocent Innuendo: Britt says quite a few lines that have homosexual tones all throughout the whole film, but he's very clearly unaware of what he's saying. Kato is, on the other hand.
Britt Reid: What do you want your autobiography to say, "Oil Changes and Cappuccinos"? Because I think "Balls Deep in Shit Kicking Dudes" by Kato is a much cooler sounding book! I would read that, and I won't read shit! And when they make it into a movie I would watch the shit out of it!
Man Behind the Man: Lenore, a hilarious subversion as even she doesn't know that she's effectively masterminding Britt and Kato's activities.
Man Child: Seth Rogen can probably play this role in his sleep. This is one of the driving tropes behind his decision to become a hero — because it's childishly awesome.
Mean Boss: Britt is a rare comedic example of this trope.
Metallicar Syndrome: Subverted in the 2011 film, where the car should be conspicuous, but turns out at the end to have camouflage technology that lets it hide from a police pursuit.
Mood Whiplash: The tone is rather lighthearted for most of the film, which makes the scene when it's revealed that after a hit is put out on the Green Hornet, seven innocent people were killed by mistake because they just happened to be wearing green at the time quite jarring to say the least. It mirrors Britt's view of heroics.
More Dakka: The Black Beauty has guns everywhere. Hood, suicide doors, trunk...
The bad guys also bring a heavy machinegun when they attempt to destroy it later.
Must Have Caffeine: Kato is a Master Barista, engineering his own espresso machine, and having an artistic flair for pouring lattes.
Mythology Gag:After the climactic battle Britt Reid's wound and Lenore Case's idea for getting Reid medical help without drawing suspicion is lifted from an homage to the TV series episode "Bad Bet on a 459-Silent".
In the T.V show the district attorney was called Scanlon, although he worked with the Green Hornet. In the film, he's the bad guy.
One of Kato's sketches is of Bruce Lee, Jay Chou's predecessor of the role. Jay Chou even replicates Bruce Lee's best known moves, like the one-inch punch and pushing side kick. The entire subplot of Kato being annoyed at being treated as Britt's sidekick is that basically before Bruce Lee had the role, Kato was literally just the Hornet's driver.
The original show theme (and graphic) play at the end of the film.
The control panel on Kato's espresso machine resembles the one in Reid's garage in the TV series that controls access to the Black Beauty.
Britt's unintended first costume, with a green bandana and brown trenchcoat, is the Hornet's original costume, and also the one in the Year One series.
Britt has a poster of The Lone Ranger, who in the original continuity was his great-uncle.
No Kill Like Overkill: The Black Beauty can pretty much demolish several city blocks with its full loadout. And does.
Hilariously, the car also has non-lethal bean bag ammo, but uses it all of once during the movie.
Not Wearing Tights: Kato specifically mentions he will have no part of that side of super-heroics.
Chudnofsky, on the other hand, does consider it.
The Oner: Multiple-camera split-screen version. The spread of information about the contract on the Green Hornet: Chudnofsky's henchman tells a madam, who sends out two women, who tell two other guys, who tell two other guys...
Only One Name: The name on that resume Kato's filling out just says "Kato".
Kato takes this attitude with Britt when the direct approach doesn’t work: He goes on a date with Casey and lies to Britt about visiting his friend Tony. Does it not seem suspicious that the Hypercompetent Sidekick risks letting his Man Child employer near a gas gun?
Pet the Dog: Britt hiring Lenore comes off like this, despite any motives he had at the time.
Plot-Mandated Friendship Failure: The falling out between Britt and Kato over who gets the girl and who the real hero is. It culminates with an argument over whether they're a boss and employee, or friends. They make up in time to face off with the Big Bad.
Pre-Mortem One-Liner: Chudnofsky makes one when he decides to become Bloodnofsky, but he never has a chance to use it AND kill his target.
Bloodnofsky: Be it my mask or your blood, red is the last color you'll see.
Chudnofsky had a flair for these even before that (and far better luck):
"Do you have any idea how many great men have killed in a suit?!" (shoots Edward Furlong) after trapping the Black Beauty and burying our heroes alive: "And so, thunder strikes lightning."
Properly Paranoid: Kato mentions that Britt's father ordered him to cover many of his cars in gadgets and gizmos for the last few years... and not without reason. Granted, those seem to have been cosmetic or defensive in nature - the machine guns and missiles were put in after he died.
Reckless Gun Usage: Britt is too dumb to ask Kato how to handle his new gas gun properly and promptly knocks himself out for eleven days.
Rich Idiot with No Day Job: Britt to a double-T. It's only once he's made owner of the Sentinel that he has an actual job AND that he finds a purpose for his life (as the Green Hornet) - and that was largely by accident.
Shout-Out: Much like Sam Raimi's Spider-Man film, Britt tries his hand at drawing out costume concepts. Unlike Peter Parker, Britt doesn't have unreasonably good sketching ability (though Kato does) and takes the time to wear a couple.
Bloodnofsky's getup with a gas mask, coat, and gun is quite reminiscent of The Sandman.
The first time Britt and Kato get in a fight Kato is weaing a cheffuer's cap and goggles in a Shout-Out to Jet Li's Black Mask, who in turn was inspired by Kato.
After a news story fails to mention that another guy was involved in taking the statue's head, Kato responds by saying he's "too fast for TV". They told Bruce Lee the same thing when he was attacking faster than the cameras could shoot.
Kato's sketchbook even contains a portrait of Bruce Lee and another of his drawings looks suspiciously like Batwoman.
Stealth Pun: Kato's had it up to here with being referred to as the sidekick - and yet which of Bruce Lee's trademark moves does he replicate at least once?
The Strategist: Lenore. What's unique about her, though, is that she doesn't even know- Britt hires her as a secretary, has her theorize what the Green Hornet would do next...and then he follows her advice and does it.
Stun Guns: The Green Hornet's gas gun makes a return, but getting the potency right so a person is merely knocked out, not put in a coma for 11 days, is shown to be a little tricky.
The Summation: When Britt puts together what's been going on, we see a quick, surreal montage representing his thought processes, implied to be happening instantly. Then we get back to reality, and the guy he's sitting next to says Britt's been sitting there for five minutes with a dopey look on his face trying to put it together.
The Syndicate: While not an actual syndicate per se, Chudnofsky has total control of all the underworld involvements in the city. Nobody is allowed to do anything without his permission.
Theme Naming: Chudnofsky's two henchmen are called Popeye and Chilli - did they get their start in fast food?
Thou Shalt Not Kill: Mostly Averted. If you're a criminal, and you try to kill them, the Green Hornet and his trusted chauffeur will kill you right back. Afterwards, they'll probably drink some coffee and eat fruit salad.
That said, Black Beauty does have beanbag rounds, the Green Hornet does have his gas gun, and Kato (probably) can pull his punches - but the plot mostly throws out situations where these aren't the most effective response.
Token Romance: Subverted; at first, it looks like Lenore Case will be Britt's love interest, but it turns out to be completely one-sided. Kato doesn't get that much further with her either, and both get assaulted for being weird about it.
Trailers Always Lie: The trailers hinted that Kato built the Black Beauty for Reid Sr. and that Britt became the Green Hornet to avenge his father. In the actual film, none of those implications amount to fact.
The trailers also made it look like Kato was against crimefighting wheres in the movie he's just as enthusiastic as Britt (after just a little convincing).
There wasn't enough explosives in the missiles to move the bulldozer, in the buried alive scenario. Enough explosives to move the bulldozer would have emulsified anyone in the car.
Even after thoroughly perforating a car with bullets, an elevator wouldn't chop it in two, especially since elevators have safety features that would prevent the elevator from moving when the doors can't close.
A front wheel drive car is still drivable with the rear end cut off, provided that you have an alternate fuel tank to replace the one that got cut away.
Or, as seen earlier in the movie, just have the MAIN gas tank up there; at the gas station, the hornet logo in the front of the grill is popped open to reveal the gas cap.
Trying to Catch Me Fighting Dirty: When Britt and Kato have their big argument and fight, Kato dismisses Britt as incapable of even touching him. While Kato was certainly the superior fighter, Britt was unafraid of using cheap tactics such as playing hurt or a surprise Groin Attack.
Two Guys and a Girl: this movie essentially sets up our heroes as this for future sequels. Only time will tell if they can solidify into a Power Trio.
Unflinching Walk: Chudnofsky and his mooks after blowing up the nightclub at the beginning of the film.
Ungrateful Bastard: Britt. Good lord, Britt. Kato eventually quits due to this. He gets better, of course.
Unspoken Plan Guarantee: Kato doesn't even tell Britt what's going on before showing up to ostensibly assassinate him. And then there's the bit at the end.
Vanity License Plate: the Black Beauty has a rotating one to switch from a normal plate to one that just says 'HORNET'.
Villainous Breakdown: Chudnovsky undergoes a slow, gradual one through pretty much the length of the whole film, starting in the second scene when Crystal Clear tells him he isn't scary. However, Bloodnofsky is just enough of a sociopath to gather his men around him. (The creators note that this is a combination of insecurities and a mid-life crisis.)
Visual Pun: The lights on the ceiling of Britt's office at The Sentinel are contained in hexagonal tubes and stuck to the ceiling; just like a hornet's nest.
What Measure Is a Mook?: The film zigzags with this trope. While the film has a surprisingly high number of deaths (some fairly horrific ones at that), the trope is averted with a minion when Chudnofsky has a funeral for him and is shown to be pretty broken up by it. Of course, in the next scene, he kills a high-level minion when he suggests that changing his name to Bloodnofsky is the dumbest idea ever.
When the gas gun is revealed, Britt's first complaint is that he should get a real gun. This is immediately justified as he mentions that they will be facing people with real guns.
Where Does He Get All Those Wonderful Toys?: Kato. He seemingly has a lot of connections from other engineers and car mechanics, as well as knowing the right companies to contact for serious hardware. The rest of the time, he builds with scrap.