Beyond their second-class superhero status, there are enough outward similarities between 'The Green Hornet' and 'Green Lantern' to confuse the average moviegoer: They're both green, both fight crime, and both wear those dorky eye masks. But there's one more important similarity the two emerald do-gooders share -- they're both being played by Canadians.
For years, Canada was the go-to place to shoot superhero movies, not only to cast them. But with 'The Green Hornet' hitting theaters this weekend and 'Green Lantern' following in June, Canadians suddenly find themselves front and center in the superhero game. And so, like Toronto doubling for New York, this year we'll see Seth Rogen and Ryan Reynolds stand in for their American counterparts.
It helps, of course, that both Rogen and Reynolds are A-list stars these days (OK, maybe A-minus factoring in the exchange rate), even if their superheroes aren't. The proudly Canadian Rogen is one of the hottest comedy stars in Judd Apatow's camp, while fellow Vancouverite Reynolds has been officially certified as People's Sexiest Man Alive. In a rare twist, the Canadian actors actually have more name recognition than the heroes they're playing. Still, as is the case with just about any superhero movie these days, both faced some serious American competition for the parts.
'The Green Hornet' took a particularly circuitous route to the big screen, going from a 1930s and '40s radio show to comic books to a short-lived TV series. At various points over the last 20 years, George Clooney, Mark Wahlberg and Jake Gyllenhaal have all been attached to the Hornet's millionaire alter-ego Britt Reid. But it wasn't until Rogen and his writing partner, fellow Canadian Evan Goldberg, came on to write the script that 'The Green Hornet' really started moving. The dynamic duo pitched Sony their more comedic take on the masked crime fighter and his sidekick Kato, and Rogen slimmed down considerably to better play the action hero role and quiet the skeptics.
Reynolds, meanwhile, didn't have as far to go to convince producers he'd look good in tights. After a sidekick role in 'Blade: Trinity,' 'The Proposal' star was long rumored to be the first choice to star in a Flash movie. Instead, Reynolds showed up as fanboy favorite Deadpool in Fox's 'Wolverine' spin-off, and earned a spin-off of his own playing the Marvel anti-hero. Not long after, Reynolds beat out another set of walking washboard abs in Bradley Cooper for 'Green Lantern,' giving him not one, but two potential superhero franchises. Warner Bros. is banking on the charismatic Canadian to pull a Robert Downey Jr. and take a second-tier hero into rarefied box office airspace. And considering the studio already greenlit a 'Green Lantern' sequel following an enthusiastic Comic Con reception, it seems their choice to look to the Great White North is paying off.
In the past, Canadians had to settle for secondary superhero roles -- Ellen Page and Shawn Ashmore made up part of the kiddie cadets in the popular 'X-Men' trilogy, and Taylor Kitsch had a small cameo as another comic fan favorite, Gambit, alongside Reynolds in 'X-Men Origins: Wolverine.' Now, thanks to Reynolds and Rogen's success, the BC-born Kitsch could soon find himself headlining his very own superhero movie.
And even though Canada didn't pull off the ultimate coup by getting one of their own into Captain America's red, white and blue trunks, the current role reversal helps make up for past grievances, like Aussie Hugh Jackman being cast as Wolverine, only the most famously Canadian superhero around (apologies to Captain Canuck). And there's always a chance for Canada to strike big again with Zack Snyder's recently announced, currently uncast 'Superman' reboot.
After all, Canadian newspaper The Globe and Mail recently confirmed the 'Watchmen' director will be taking his 'Man of Steel' production to Vancouver. Casting a Canadian Superman would only be fitting considering one of the most famous superheroes ever has an even more steel-clad Canada connection: Toronto-born comic book artist and Superman co-creator Joe Shuster even modeled Metropolis on his old hometown.
That doesn't mean we'll seeing Justin Bieber in tights any time soon (well, at least not in a superhero movie), but thanks to two green crime fighters, a Canadian passport is now anything but superhero-casting Kryptonite.