In the renaissance of comic book films, 2011’s “Green Hornet” starring Seth Rogen and Jay Chou, isn’t the worst of the bunch but does tend to sit on the lower end of critical estimation.
It was a long shot to adapt as a property, but with acclaimed helmer Michel Gondry (“Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind”) directing it was hoped he could come up with something unique. In a new interview with THR, he spoke about his early experience with the film’s production back in its first incarnation at Universal:
“I had worked on the first version of The Green Hornet for several years. It was in 1996 or 1997, and I had worked with Ed Neumeier, who is a screenwriter who did RoboCop and Starship Troopers. We wrote a script that was really [evocative] of the original.
And then after one month working with it and having done drawings and so on, the executive of the studio, that was Universal at the time, just said they had shelved the project. They just said to me, ‘Next time you pick a project, make sure it’s on the top of the pile.’ And I was very frustrated because that was him who asked me to work on this project. So that was quite a low part of my career.”
Gondry left the project and the film shifted over to Sony Pictures which is when Rogen came onboard with him and Evan Goldberg penning a new script. Chinese action-comedy star Stephen Chow was initially set to both direct and co-star as Kato, but then dropped out. Gondry then came back onboard, but by that time it was more a director-for-hire style gig:
“It was, at times, difficult for me to find my place. What happened is he [Rogen] was writing and acting and producing the film. And so it was hard for me to be able to express myself. Although I don’t feel I was put aside. It’s hard to fall in love with the big movies, expensive movies, where you go on board and the script is already quite advanced. By this time, I feel that there is not enough room for me to be creative or to feel connected to the character and the story.”
As a result, Gondry hasn’t directed another studio movie since then and tells the outlet that though he may return to studio filmmaking one day, he’s done with superhero movies.