How the Green Hornet became Chinese: Cross-racial mimicry and superhero localization in Hong Kong

  • Shan Mu Zhao University of Southern California
Keywords: Asian-American, Postcolonial, Superheroes, Transcultural fandom


The Green Hornet television series (1966–67), with Bruce Lee in the role of Kato, the Green Hornet's sidekick, was broadcast in Hong Kong in 1968. In subsequent decades, characters referencing the Green Hornet emerged repeatedly in Hong Kong popular culture, and instead of being Anglo-American like the original Hornet, they have all been ethnically Chinese. Scholarship suggests that fans of color are excluded from identifying with or performing white characters based on their racialization; however, this does not appear to be the case for Hong Kong fans. I apply the concept of colonial mimicry to argue that Hong Kong fans arrived at ethnically Chinese inhabiting the Green Hornet by exploiting Kato's partial inclusion as an Asian American and as a sidekick. In addition, as a colonial audience, Hong Kong fans were well positioned to poach from a transcultural text such as The Green Hornet, and make this cross-racial move.