Superhero movies are going through some interesting, if difficult, transitions right now. Following the big explosion of comic book adaptations in the late 1990s and early 2000s, the artistic pretense of the genre was no longer a laughing matter, but neither was its commercial prospects; audiences are in the incipient stages of experiencing franchise reboots, such as with the forthcoming 'Spider-Man' films, and it remains to be seen whether or not second-tier characters and series will succeed as easily as their predecessors. Meanwhile, material inspired by alternative sources or created concurrently with its printed-page iteration, such as 'Kick-Ass' and 'Scott Pilgrim,' has met with mixed success at best. All of which is why 'The Green Hornet' may inadvertently be a litmus test as the first major superhero adaptation of this new era.

As written by Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg and directed by Michel Gondry, the film's artistic and commercial bona fides are more than well-covered, at least in terms of attracting some general interest of mainstream moviegoers and fans of less conventional fare. But it's because of this scattershot combination of elements that 'The Green Hornet' is on admirable (if decidedly shakier) ground, since it creates a superhero origin story that seems both too ambitious and uneven to satisfy fully, either as four-square genre material or as a straightforward crowd-pleaser.