After the rights to The Green Hornet property were purchased by Miramax in 2001, Kevin Smith was attached to write and direct the film in 2004, with Jake Gyllenhaal in the lead. The story had Britt Reid a.k.a. The Green Hornet, and Kato as old men in retirement, with Britt Reid, Jr. a.k.a. Green Hornet II (Gyllenhaal) and Kato's daughter donning their fathers' masks to combat a new evil. Smith pulled out of directing, due to an insecurity of directing with such a large budget. He stayed on as writer, and wrote two drafts, but with no further progress with the script, the rights were let go, and purchased by Columbia Pictures. Then, Seth Rogen, who had starred in Zack and Miri Make a Porno (2008), became attached to star, and write a completely different screenplay. Smith's screenplay was adapted into a comic book miniseries, called "Green Hornet: Sins of the Father", published by Dynamite before the movie's release.
When Britt and Kato are watching themselves on the news, running away from vandalizing the statue, Kato does not see himself on-screen. He reasons he is "too fast for the camera". When Bruce Lee played Kato in The Green Hornet (1966), they filmed his fight scenes at a faster rate, because he was "too fast for the camera".
During the initial confrontation outside the hibachi restaurant, Kato punches a henchman through a window using a very fast short punch. This is an homage to Bruce Lee's famous "one-inch punch", which was said to be able to knock a person off their feet with a strike that only moved one inch.
In the scene where the Black Beauty is first revealed, a 1939 Lincoln Zephyr is under the tarp. This is a reference to the original Black Beauty from The Green Hornet (1940), which was a black 1939 Lincoln Zephyr that could go two hundred miles per hour, and outrun any car chasing it.
A poster for The Lone Ranger can be seen in Britt Reid's room. In the original radio program, Reid was the The Lone Ranger's grandnephew. His father rode with The Lone Ranger on some of his adventures, and they shared the family name of Reid. Both radio programs were created by George W. Trendle and Fran Striker.
The reference to Twilight (2008) is changed in international versions of the film (whether dubbed or subtitled), so that the reference makes sense in context. For example, in France, the characters reference Sunset Blvd. (1950) instead.
When Britt Reid and Kato first go out to vandalize the statue, their disguises closely resemble the costumes of the early incarnations of the Green Hornet and Kato of the film serials The Green Hornet (1940) and The Green Hornet Strikes Again! (1940).
Michel Gondry was initially set to direct the film for Universal Pictures back in 1997, for what was to be his directorial debut. The script was written by Edward Neumeier and featured a villain who ate human hearts. Gondry initially wanted Vince Vaughn for the lead, but the parts of Britt and Kato were offered to Mark Wahlberg and Jason Scott Lee.
In late 2008, Stephen Chow was set to direct and co-star as Kato. However, creative differences prevented him from doing so. Although, for a while, it seemed he was still set to play Kato when Michel Gondry became attached. Seth Rogen stated the reason for Chow's departure, was that the director wanted Kato to implant Britt with a microchip and control him with a joystick, something Rogen wasn't keen on.
Kato says he's from Shanghai, to which Britt replies that he loves Japan. Kato was originally Japanese in the radio series from 1936 until 1939. Due to world events, the character's nationality was changed briefly to South Korean before settling on Filipino for nearly all of the 1940s. In the 1960s, Bruce Lee's definitive portrayal fixed the public perception of Kato as Chinese for The Green Hornet (1966), although subsequent versions in other media, such as comic books, have sometimes reverted to the original Japanese origin.
The Green Hornet was originally a radio show, first broadcast in 1936 and running to 1952. Although there were two serials, (The Green Hornet (1940) with thirteen chapters, and The Green Hornet Strikes Again! (1940) with fifteen chapters), the last six chapters of the first one re-edited into a one hundred minute feature, and several episodes of The Green Hornet (1966) were edited together into a pair of ninety minute films. This is the first original feature-length Hollywood treatment of the costumed hero.
This is Cameron Diaz's second superhero styled film for her to appear, as a possible love interest to the main character. Her first one was also her first film, The Mask (1994), where she played Stanley Ipkiss' love interest and bombshell, Tina Carlyle.
The trivia items below may give away important plot points.
In the television series, District Attorney Frank Scanlon knows Britt Reid's secret identity, and is one of the Green Hornet's closest allies and confidants. However, in this film, he is portrayed as a villain who eventually finds out Reid's secret identity, and is killed by the Green Hornet and Kato with the Black Beauty.