This weekend, excited fanboys and curious movie buffs alike will head to the theater to check out the newest superhero movie extravaganza, 'The Green Hornet.' For most of us, though, there's just one little question nagging at the back of our mind: What the heck is a green hornet, anyway?

The confusion is understandable, considering that the trailers and commercials for 'The Green Hornet' have been running side-by-side with ads and promotions for this summer's superhero film 'Green Lantern' -- who isn't exactly a household name either (at least in homes devoid of comic-book collectors). It's enough to give even the most hardcore comic geek a headache; thank goodness Green Arrow doesn't have a movie this year or else nobody would have any idea what the heck was going on.

Don't worry, though, because we've gathered together all the facts you'll need in order sort through this cineplex confusion. So check out our guide to 'The Green Hornet' -- and head to the theater with confidence.
How did 'The Green Hornet' start? Despite the fact that 'The Green Hornet' appears to be another comic-book movie, the character didn't debut in comics at all. In fact, 'The Green Hornet' began as a radio show in 1936, two full years before Superman became the first costumed comic book superhero. The radio program quickly became a national sensation, leading to serials, pulps, TV shows and, yes, eventualy even comic books.

What about the 'Green Hornet' TV show? If you're familiar with 'The Green Hornet' at all, of course, it's most likely due to the 1966-67 TV series of the same name. Though the series lasted just one season, it made a permanent mark on pop culture as the series introduced the Western world to the amazing talents of Bruce Lee, who played the Hornet's faithful sidekick, Kato.

Who is the Green Hornet? Underneath his stylish domino mask, the Green Hornet is actually millionaire newspaper publisher Britt Reid. This time around, Reid (played by Seth Rogen) is less of a noble journalistic crusader, though, and more of a lazy trust fund baby who suddenly develops a sense of purpose after his father is murdered.

Who is Kato? In the original radio stories, Kato became the Green Hornet's valet and sidekick after Britt Reid saved his life during a fateful adventure in Asia. That doesn't happen in the movie, though; instead, Kato (played by Chinese pop star Jay Chou) is an employee of Britt's dad who agrees to help Reid fight crime in order to avenge his boss's death.

Why has the movie taken so long? Considering the long pedigree and rich pop history of the character, you'd think they would have put together a 'Green Hornet' film a long time ago. Well, it wasn't from a lack of effort: over the past two decades, everyone from George Clooney and Kevin Smith to Nic Cage and Stephen Chow has tried to get this film off the ground. It took the combination of Rogen and 'Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind' director Michael Gondry to finally get it done.

What are Green Hornet's powers? Actually, he doesn't have any; no magic ring or flying or super strength or any of that nonsense. Like that total copycat Batman, The Green Hornet is an expert detective and master of the martial arts who also happens to be rich enough to afford a bunch of high tech gadgets and gizmos -- including his own souped up version of a Batmobile, known as Black Beauty.

What does the Lone Ranger have to do with anything?! After 'The Lone Ranger' became a hit in the early 1930s, radio execs asked creator Frank Striker to come up with a modern take. In response, he created 'The Green Hornet,' explicitly tying the two characters together by making the Lone Ranger Britt Reid's great uncle. Unfortunately, the rights to the two characters were later sold to different companies, meaning you won't get to see any Lone Ranger flashbacks in 'The Green Hornet.' At least, not this time around -- but who knows what might happen if the film proves popular enough to require a sequel.

'The Green Hornet' Trailer

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The Green Hornet
PG-13 2011
Based on 39 critics

The spoiled heir (Seth Rogen) to a newspaper fortune becomes a costumed crime-fighter. Read More

categories Features, Coming Soon