Creation, Concepts and the birth of a Legend
The concept of Cross Fire was a superhero wrestler with a red cross-shaped visor on his mask. It is said that the concept was inspired from the Toei hero Gekko Kamen and a motorcycle racer. Cross Fire had several concept names, such as Maskman K (マスクマンK Masku Man Kei), Kamen Angel (仮面天使 Kamen Tenshi) and Cross Kamen (十字仮面 Jūji Kamen). Later, Ishinomori continued to design some different concepts with a lion motif and a kanji (火 Hi, lit.Fire) on the forehead.
However, Ishinomori wanted something more "fantastic and grotesque". The Cross Fire design was in his opinion "too safe" as he felt it didn't stand out from past tokusatsu superheroes before it. A prototype concept for a TV version of the Skull Man costume was made instead and Cross Fire was discarded.
However, the Toei and MBS executives were unhappy with the concept as they thought such a scary character was unsuitable for a children's show, so that idea was discarded as well. After the Skull Man plan failed, Shotaro was forced to create a new character whose design, a grasshopper man, was chosen by his son from a lineup of drawings, thus creating Kamen Rider.
Like Skull Man, despite Cross Fire never making it as a series, an unproduced pilot episode storyboard still can be found in MBS' archive. It shows an sketch of Spider Man breaking in a window and a front scene of Cross Fire riding on a motorcycle. Futhermore, it revealed the name of protagonist is Takeshi Hongo and will be portrayed by Masaomi Kondō (later replaced by Hiroshi Fujioka). Elements of the costume's design and concept would be used years later in Kamen Rider Series. It would also be the name of a finisher attack used by Skull Man in the Kazuhiko Shimamoto 1990s manga.
Some things in the Kamen Rider Series were created as homages of Cross Fire:
- SPIRITS soldiers' armor - Kamen Rider Spirits manga
- Kamen Rider OOO Latorartar Combo - Kamen Rider OOO
- Cross of Fire concept - Kamen Rider Wizard
- Kamen Rider Mach's V-Helm - Kamen Rider Drive
- Another New 1 - Kamen Rider: Reiwa The First Generation