Oct 9, 2022

Green Hornet: Batman Lite

The Green Hornet appeared on Friday nights in the fall of 1966 with guns blazing, ready to take the kid world by storm.  There were coloring books, comic books, action figures, viewmasters, Green Hornet costumes for Halloween (apparently he was a revision of an early pulp hero).

  But he turned out to be Batman lite, reviled or ignored by everybody at Denkmann Elementary School, especially the boys who liked boys.

1. Instead of spandex costumes that beautifully displayed muscles and bulges, crime-fighting vigilantes Green Hornet (Van Williams) and Kato (Bruce Lee) wore silly green business suits and overcoats.  Ironic, considering that Van Williams, formerly of Sunset Strip, was well known for his muscular physique.

And Bruce Lee's beefcake posters would soon be plastered on the bedroom walls of millions of gay and non-gay kids.

2. Instead of cool villains like the Joker, the Riddler, and Catwoman, the Green Hornet and Kato fought crooked insurance companies, construction contractors, and local politicos.  And they expected kids to watch?

3. People actually died on The Green Hornet. And they expected kids to watch?

4.Robin was Batman's "youthful ward."  I didn't know what a ward was, but apparently it involved living together, emotional connection, and lots of nick-of-time rescues.  Kato was the Green Hornet's valet.  They lived together, sort of, but no emotional connection and no "my hero!" moments.  Ironic, considering that Van Williams was one of Rock Hudson's associates and rumored to be gay, and the liberal Bruce Lee would probably be a supporter of gay rights.

Facing strong competition from The Wild Wild West and Tarzan,  the series crashed. Guest appearances on Batman in September 1966 and March 1967 didn't help.  After 26 episodes, it vanished, never to be seen again -- until Seth Rogen and Jay Chou starred in a comedy version in 2011.


  1. Alas, Van Williams seems to be quite heterosexual and is still happily married to his wife Vicki after 53 years together. Were you perhaps confusing him with Van Johnson?

    1. He's mentioned in "The Man Who Invented Rock Hudson" as a member of the 1950s Hollywood gay circle. But I can change it to "rumored to be gay."

  2. Apparently both you and Devin Grayson didn't know what a ward was.

    Bruce Lee also did Kung Fu. Or came up with the concept, but they hired David Carradine because racism.

    1. A ward is a juvenile with a legally appointed guardian . I think it predates adoption

    2. Sort of. A ward is basically non-binding after you turn 18 (barring being deemed legally incompetent).

      Robin was only formally adopted in 2001. In the meantime, he

      Went to college in 1969
      Became a Congressional page in 1972
      Officially joined the Justice League in 1979
      Turned 18 and revived the Titans in 1980
      Became Nightwing/was replaced as Robin in 1984
      First slept with a woman (well, an alien catgirl) in 1985
      Turned 20 (as the multiverse was collapsing) in 1986, caused an interstellar incident, oh and he also joined a cult
      Trained his new replacement as Robin in 1989
      Was raped in 1992 (Oh yeah, starting with Jericho's death, Teen Titans takes a pretty dark turn.)
      Was almost married in 1993
      Became Batman for a stint in 1993
      Was declared the greatest tactician in the universe in 1994 (or what was left of it, since here we go again...)
      Murders the Joker in 1999 ("I hit Jason harder than that!" should be inscribed on every Joker figurine.)
      Also dates Barbara Gordon for the first time in 1999.

      Is only formally adopted in 2001 in a miniseries by Devin Grayson in Gotham Knights. The comic is randomly racist and Ra's al Ghul's great plan is to troll the bats.

  3. Maybe if they had found a way of getting Williams and Lee to loose their shirts they series might have lasted longer.

    1. That is true. I mean, it's harder to do with detective stories, but not impossible.

    2. In the Wild Wild West- Robert Conrad at least had one shirtless scene in every episode and of course the villains loved to tie him up- so I can imagine an story in :The Green Hornet they could have done both easily


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