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April 27, 2008

The Incredible Hulk

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , — nazalea @ 10:30 am

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Incredible Hulk

Promotional poster
Directed by Louis Leterrier
Produced by Avi Arad
Gale Anne Hurd
Kevin Feige
Written by Screenplay:
Edward Norton
(credited by his middle name Harrison)
Zak Penn
Comic book:
Stan Lee
Jack Kirby
Starring Edward Norton
Liv Tyler
Tim Roth
William Hurt
Music by Craig Armstrong
Cinematography Peter Menzies Jr.
Editing by John Wright
Distributed by Globally:
Paramount Pictures
United States:
Universal Studios
Release date(s) June 13, 2008
Country United States
Language English
Budget $130 million[1]

The Incredible Hulk is a superhero film based on the Marvel comic of the same name, set for release on June 13, 2008.[2] It is directed by Louis Leterrier and stars Edward Norton as Bruce Banner, Liv Tyler as Betty Ross, William Hurt as her father General Thaddeus Ross and Tim Roth as the villainous Emil Blonsky, known in the comics as the Abomination. The film follows Banner as he flees the pursuit of General Ross and attempts a cure to rid himself of the Hulk. But when Blonsky injects himself with Banner’s gamma formula and becomes an even greater monster, Banner must accept his own inner beast and defeat Blonsky.

After the 2003 film Hulk, Marvel Studios reacquired the rights to the character, and writer Zak Penn began work on a loose sequel that would be closer to the comics and the television series. Norton rewrote the script after he signed on to star, severing ties to its predecessor by retelling the origin story in flashbacks and revelations. Filming mostly took place in Toronto, Canada in 2007, and the film’s crew went to great lengths to reduce the production’s carbon emissions. Letterier’s direction aimed to make the monsters look more realistic and frightening. He redesigned the Abomination, who in the comics is a reptilian KGB agent, into a mutant soldier with an bony protrusions.


[edit] Premise

Bruce Banner is a fugitive in South America, trying to cure the condition that turns him into the Hulk. He is being pursued by the United States Army, led by General “Thunderbolt” Ross and Emil Blonsky, who wants to use his power. Blonsky himself repeats the accident that gave Banner his powers, but when he discovers he is unable to change back into human form, he blames Banner and seeks his revenge.[1]

Louis Leterrier said that he planned to show Bruce Banner’s struggle with the monster within him.[3] Producer Kevin Feige added the film would explore “that element of wish fulfillment, of overcoming an injustice or a bully and tapping into a strength that you didn’t quite realize you had in yourself”.[4] Avi Arad also said the film would be “a lot more of a love story between Bruce Banner and Betty Ross”.[5]


[edit] Cast

“There’s a thing in Hulk of the Prometheus myth: it’s tapping the story of stealing fire from the gods and being burned by it […] When you think about Banner’s driving motivation, part of what was interesting to me was a sense of guilt, a sense of having monkeyed with nature. He’s applied a certain arrogance to his work and assumed he can master forces that maybe aren’t meant to be tinkered with casually, and he’s driven by […] wanting to put the genie back into the bottle. […] There’s a certain blowback to messing with nature.”
—Norton on the subtext of the Hulk[6]

Edward Norton as Dr. Bruce Banner / The Hulk: A genius scientist who, because of exposure to gamma radiation coupled with childhood trauma, transforms into the Hulk when stressed or enraged. Eric Bana turned down reprising the role, as he viewed the first film as a one-off opportunity.[7] The filmmakers were interested in Norton because he reminded them of Bill Bixby, who played Banner in the TV series.[8] Lou Ferrigno, who played the Hulk with Bixby, stated that Norton reminded him of the actor, as “He has a similar physique, [and a] similar personality.”[9] Zak Penn also compared Norton’s character in Fight Club to that of Banner.[10]

Norton was a Hulk fan, citing his first comic book appearances, the Bixby TV show and Bruce Jones’ run on the comic as his favorite depictions of the character.[11] He had expressed interest in the role for the first film.[12] He initially turned down the part for this film, recalling “there [was] the wince factor or the defensive part of you that recoils at what the bad version of what that would be,” as he felt the previous film “strayed far afield from a story that was familiar to people, […] which is a fugitive story”. When he met Letterier and Marvel though, he liked their vision, and believed they were looking to him to guide the project too. Thus, Norton rewrote the script.[6] “Norton’s script has given Bruce’s story real gravitas,” Letterier said. “Admittedly I’m not the most adult director, but just because we’re making a superhero movie it doesn’t have to just appeal to 13-year old boys. Ed and I both see superheroes as the new Greek gods.”[1]

During editing, Norton and the producers had a dispute: he and Leterrier wanted a running time near 135 minutes, while they wanted the film to be under two hours. This was made public, and rumors spread that Norton “made it clear he won’t cooperate with publicity plans if he’s not happy with the final product”.[13] Norton dismissed this, “Our healthy process [of collaboration], which is and should be a private matter, was misrepresented publicly as a ‘dispute’, seized on by people looking for a good story, and has been distorted to such a degree that it risks distracting from the film itself, which Marvel, Universal and I refuse to let happen. It has always been my firm conviction that films should speak for themselves and that knowing too much about how they are made diminishes the magic of watching them.”[14]

  • Liv Tyler as Betty Ross: Bruce’s girlfriend, whom he is separated from due to his condition. Tyler replaced actress Jennifer Connelly, who portrayed Betty Ross in the 2003 film Hulk. Tyler was attracted to the love story in the script, and was a fan of the TV show, because of the “humanity and what [Banner] is going through”.[11] She said filming the part “was very physical, which was fun for me. I got to do a whole bunch of action stuff I’d never done, [like] running in front of tanks”.[15]
  • Tim Roth as Emil Blonsky: An English soldier in the United States Army Special Forces who becomes a monster while pursuing the Hulk. The character is known as the “Abomination” in the comics, but Zak Penn considered this name was too silly, and he will only be referred to as Blonsky on screen.[10] Although Russian in the comic, the filmmakers refused to hire a dialect coach for Roth, so he was made English.[16] Roth took the part to please his sons, who are both comic book superhero fans. As a teenager, Roth and a bodybuilder friend were fans of the TV show, and he also found the director’s ideas “very dark and very interesting”. Roth watched the 2003 film, but stopped as he did not want to be caught up in the controversy over its quality, and to compare himself to that film.[16] Leterrier is a fan of Roth, noting “it’s great watching a normal Cockney boy become a superhero!”,[1] but Marvel and Norton were initially reluctant to cast him.[17] Before he was cast in Punisher: War Zone, Ray Stevenson was in discussions for the role.[18]
  • William Hurt as General Thaddeus “Thunderbolt” Ross: Betty’s father, who has dedicated himself to capturing the Hulk. Letterier cast Hurt because “Ross is more physical, more explosive in this movie, and no actor goes from zero to 100 as well as William.”[1] He compared Ross to Captain Ahab.[17] The Hulk is Hurt’s favorite superhero, and his son is also a big fan of the character. Hurt found production very different from the typical “pure anxiety” of a studio movie, finding it more akin to an independent movie.[19] He described Ross as “humiliated by Hulk’s conscience: he actually sees and recognizes that it’s more developed than his own, even though he’s a patriot and a warrior for his country. He’s sacrificed [much] for that purpose, but at the expense at times of his humanity — which he occasionally recovers.”[20] Sam Elliott, who played Ross in the first film, would have liked to reprise the role, noting it was odd seeing someone take his part, “but I’ll be looking forward to seeing this one”.[21]
  • Tim Blake Nelson as Samuel Sterns: A scientist.[22]
  • Ty Burrell as Dr. Leonard Samson: A psychotherapist who tries to help Banner rid himself of the Hulk.[17]
  • Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark: Downey will have debuted in the role in Iron Man, as part of Marvel Studios’ effort to depict the same Marvel Universe on film. He will share a scene opposite General Ross.[19]

Hulk co-creator Stan Lee has yet to shoot his cameo appearance, as he was unable to organize his schedule to fly to Toronto during principal photography. However, a pick-up may be scheduled for him during February or March 2008 in Los Angeles, in order to film his cameo.[23] Lou Ferrigno and Michael K. Williams also cameo.[9] Norton wrote a role for Williams because he is a fan of The Wire.[24]


[edit] Production


[edit] Development

The Incredible Hulk is influenced by the TV series of the same name. Above is Edward Norton, and below is Bill Bixby, both sitting in a similar machine.

The Incredible Hulk is influenced by the TV series of the same name. Above is Edward Norton, and below is Bill Bixby, both sitting in a similar machine.

At the time of the release of Ang Lee’s Hulk, screenwriter James Schamus was planning a sequel, featuring the Gray Hulk. He was also considering the Leader and the Abomination as villains.[25] On January 18, 2006 producer Avi Arad confirmed Marvel Studios would be making the film, with Universal distributing,[26] because Universal did not meet the deadline for filming a sequel.[27] Marvel felt it would be better to deviate from Lee’s style to continue the franchise.[28] Louis Leterrier had expressed interest in directing the Iron Man film adaptation, but Jon Favreau took that project, so Arad offered him the Hulk.[29] Although he liked the first film, Letterier concurred with Marvel for a less cerebral tone.[28] As a child, he had enjoyed the TV series, and read Hulk: Gray by Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale to get into the mindset of directing.[30]

Screenwriter Zak Penn said the film would follow up Hulk, but tonally the film will be more similar to the TV series or Bruce Jones’ run on the comic. He compared the film to Aliens, which was a very different film to Alien, but still in the same continuity.[12] Peter David’s run is also referenced in the film.[30] Penn wrote three drafts, before departing in early 2007 to direct The Grand. Edward Norton, who had rewritten previous films he starred in, wrote a new draft, which pleased the director and the studio in establishing the film as a reboot.[31]

Norton explained, “I don’t even like the phrase origin story, and I don’t think in great literature and great films that explaining the roots of the story doesn’t mean it comes in the beginning.”[11] “Audiences know this story,” he added, “[so] deal with it artfully.” He wanted to “have revelations even in the third act about what set this whole thing in motion”.[6] Norton’s rewrite also added the character of Doc Samson and made references to other Marvel characters.[32] Letterier stated, “We don’t go against anything that the first one established, but it’s brand new, a fresh start.”[30] Norton rewrote scenes every day.[16]

Marvel chose the Abomination as the villain because he was the most famous enemy, and because he would be an actual threat to the Hulk, unlike General Ross.[28] For the Abomination, Letterier updated his KGB background from the comics, making him a soldier. The character acts as Banner’s foil: “a fighter, he’s a machine, he’s a very effective, cool-as-a-cucumber soldier that is over the hill – 38, 39 years old – has finished his life as a soldier, should be a Colonel by now and has never accepted that failure. He loves being a fighter, loves being on the field.”[17] Norton explained, “[Abomination] really does have his own arc, so he’s not just some creature that pops up.”[6] Roth also concurred the Abomination from the comic was rooted in the Cold War.[16]


[edit] Filming

Filming began on July 9, 2007.[8] The Canadian shoot included Toronto, Hamilton, Ontario, CFB Trenton,[33] Vancouver, British Columbia and Belleville, Ontario.[34] Afterwards, there was a week-long shoot in New York City and two weeks in Rio de Janeiro.[33] The Incredible Hulk joined Toronto’s Green-Screen initiative, to help cut carbon emissions and waste created during filming. Producer Gale Anne Hurd hopes the film will be a symbol of the drive to encourage less pollution from film productions. Norton used a hybrid vehicle on set.[35] Leterrier had to direct four units with a broken foot.[1]


[edit] Effects

Concept art for the film's incarnation of the Hulk. The character's scar on his left cheek is modelled after Edward Norton.

Concept art for the film’s incarnation of the Hulk. The character’s scar on his left cheek is modelled after Edward Norton.

The director said of the special effects in the first film “that there was no weight to [the Hulk]. He was flying around and it was very poetic, but […] I want everything to be gritty, darker, even a little scarier. Frankenstein, King Kong, these monsters are pretty scary. They’re not smooth-looking, fluorescent-green-looking characters. They’re pretty dark and, still, within, there’s a tenderness and a humanity that you can see through them.”[30] Leterrier planned to use prosthetic makeup and animatronics in combination with computer-generated imagery that had solely been used in the previous film.[36] Norton and Roth provided motion capture for their characters, and filmed their fights on a stage with 37 digital cameras.[1] Leterrier hired Rhythm and Hues to provide the CGI, because of their skills in character animation. Industrial Light & Magic worked on the 2003 film.[37] Image Engine spent over a year working on a shot where Banner’s gamma-iradiated blood falls through three factory floors into a bottle.[38]

The filmmakers chose a darker shade of green for the Hulk,[39] and decided to not make him as large.[26] His size does not increase as he becomes further enraged,[11] staying at a consistent height of nine feet.[39] The Hulk is not directly modelled on Norton as he was cast after the designs had begun. After the main look was approved, the filmmakers did decide to add subtle elements of his features, such as the scar on his left cheek and a mole on the right side of his mouth. They were careful to make sure the character’s hair did not look like a mullet.[30] As a nod to the live action TV series, Banner’s eyes change color first when he transforms.[40]

Edward Norton's eyes turn green as he transforms to Hulk

Edward Norton’s eyes turn green as he transforms to Hulk

Leterrier changed the Abomination’s design from the comics because he felt the audience would question why he resembled a fish or a reptile, instead of “an über-human” like the Hulk. Instead, his hideousness is derived from being injected multiple times into his skin, muscles and bones; creating a creature with a protruding spine and sharp bones that he can use to stab. His green skin is pale, and reflects light, so it appears orange because of surrounding fire during the climactic battle.[17]

The make-up artists who worked on X-Men: The Last Stand created Blonsky’s gradual transformation.[16] Zak Penn said they approached his mutation as “not [being] used to having these properties. Like he’s much heavier, and we talked about how when he walks down the sidewalk, his weight destroys the sidewalk and he’s tripping. [It’s all about] the humanization of these kinds of superhero characters, showing the effects physics may actually have on [them].”[10]


[edit] Music

Marvel has bought the rights to “The Lonely Man Theme” from the TV series. The piano piece was composed by Joe Harnell and was used over the end credits to represent Banner’s never-ending search for inner peace.[30] On February 14, 2008, it was announced that Craig Armstrong would compose the original score for the film.[41]


[edit] Marketing

Hasbro created the toy line, due for release on May 1, 2008.[42] Sega will release a video game of the film on June 3, 2008.[43]


[edit] Sequel

Samuel Sterns, played by Tim Blake Nelson was introduced to set him up as a villain in a future film, where he would become the Leader.[30] Norton said, “The whole thing was to envision it in multiple parts. We left a lot out on purpose. [The Incredible Hulk is] definitely intended as chapter one.”[6]

In addition, Marvel Studios is keen to have Norton reprise the role in an adaptation of The Avengers. Iron Man director Jon Favreau said “[Marvel is] pretty clear on wanting to do it with the actors who’ve established the roles or to not do it at all.”


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