The Hulk: Is He or Isn’t He?
Rule number one of The Hulk: do not make Hulk angry. Rule number two: do not make Hulk angry.
You’d think that the bigwigs at Marvel Studios would’ve gotten that memo, but the way they’ve been playing with Bruce Banner’s bigger half says otherwise. After Ang Lee’s widely panned Hulk, Marvel re-rolled the dice with The Incredible Hulk. The film, starring Edward Norton as the Jade Giant, didn’t do nearly as well as Iron Man but still managed to stomp on its 2003 predecessor in terms of critical acclaim. The DVD of the film was released this past Tuesday.
Still, Hulk’s on-screen future is uncertain. Recent reports pegged the character as the villain for the upcoming Avengers film, with Marvel Studios’ own president of production Kevin Feige echoing the idea. Feige later said that a direct Hulk sequel was up in the air.
"The truth is that Hulk has had two films in the past five years, and it’s time to give some of the other guys a turn," Feige recently said in an MTV interview. "I would expect that people may see the Hulk again soon [possibly in The Avengers] before he is again carrying his own film."
That was the official scoop as of Monday, October 20. Now comes a conflicting report from Gale Anne Hurd, producer on both Ang Lee’s Hulk and Louis Leterrier’s The Incredible Hulk. Hurd says that she has every intention of bringing the Green Meanie back to theaters.
"It’s all going to depend on the screenplay and where his character goes in any sequel, because [Edward Norton] does have a multiple-picture deal," Hurd tells MTV News. "[Norton’s] situation is the same with every franchise like this, when you have one of the top actors of his generation."
The "situation," it would seem, is essentially a holding pattern. Hurd echoes Feige’s comments that Hulk will probably pop up in The Avengers before he gets another sequel.
"It’s wonderful that Marvel now controls so many of their own characters, and they can create a Marvel universe in film and populate it with so many of their characters who naturally exist together," Hurd says of The Avengers, calling it an "exciting prospect."
But if The Incredible Hulk 2 were to happen, as Hurd hopes it does, the villain is likely to be the Leader.
"Wouldn’t it be great to tackle the Leader?" asks Hurd. "It’s a completely different type of cerebral villain, which would give the movie a terrific new take on the character."
Towards the end of The Incredible Hulk, Tim Blake Nelson’s Samuel Sterns accidentally exposes his head wound to a dose of Banner’s gamma irradiated blood. Hurd says that a sequel would have to pick up on that thread. Sterns, after all, became the Leader in the comics in a slightly different way but it works.
"It would be a blast [to put the Leader in the sequel]," she says. "Tim Blake Nelson is tremendous and a very talented filmmaker in his own right."
While Hurd acknowledges that it might be some time before another Hulk outing, she doesn’t sound discouraged.
"You never give up on something that is worth doing," she says. "We look forward to having the opportunity to do [another Hulk] again." Hurd waited 12 years between Terminator 2: Judgment Day and Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, a testament to her patience with the film industry.
But the question remains as to whether or not Edward Norton shares Hurd’s zen-like calm. Norton, who rewrote the script to The Incredible Hulk but did not receive a writing credit, had a very ugly, public dispute with Marvel Studios over the final cut of the film. He and director Letterier championed a longer, character-driven version that succumbed to the shorter action-oriented film released in theaters. As a result, Doc Samson’s role was diminished and the now famous Captain America cameo got relegated to the DVD’s bonus features.
Despite his alleged "multiple-picture deal," it’s hardly set in stone that Norton will return once more as Bruce Banner. After all, an alleged multiple-picture deal doesn’t necessarily mean squat in Tinsel Town… just ask Terrence Howard.