A Hulk-size Q & A with the filmmakers.
During Part One of our visit to the edit bay of The Incredible Hulk, we took you through the early scenes we were shown and got some background on
the new movie from director Louis Leterrier and producers Kevin Feige and Gale Anne Hurd.
In Part Two we go a bit deeper as the filmmakers field a series of questions on the movie, from the rumors of problems with Edward Norton to the design of Hulk and Abomination.
Q. If it got so bad for Banner, has he ever contemplated killing himself to end the curse of the Hulk?
KEVIN FEIGE: Funny you should ask that, because yes he did and the answer is no he can't. There's some great stuff in comics where he attempts to do that and the Hulk won't let him. The angst and anxiety in even attempting to do that will unleash the Hulk...
There are some things that we'll be unveiling online and on the web sites that sort of fill in the blanks on the story of his journey from Culver University where the incident occurred to Brazil. He went on a worldwide track during that time..."
There are a few scenes that we shot specifically to fill in that journey. We don't want to talk too much about but we will be unveiling as part of the promotion and the marketing up towards release... Some of which deal with that very question...
Q. How did you come up with the new design of the Hulk?
[Edward Norton] was tough to convince because he obviously had been offered other superhero movies before... Although he always regrets not being offered Spider-man. He says that's the one I wanted to do. So this one we had to come back to him a few times and he finally said 'I see the vision.'
LOUIS LETERRIER: The design I started before I was hired by Marvel. I started with skin and texture and surfaces and also, models from the comic books that we refer to from the last ten years where Hulk has evolved. He's less pudgy; he's more human-like. He looks more like a superhuman, a perfect human.
KF: Who was the artist that inspired you?
LL: "There's Dale Keown... But also, I must say, I loved Tim Cell [and] Jeph Loeb gray Hulk just because of that squar-ish, perfect, super comic book design. And also Tim's framing is amazing."
"Our Hulk is sort of like the son of all these Hulks together. If you took all these Hulks and you morphed them all together they would kind of look like our Hulk. I decided to make the skin a little darker just because in the daylight bright skin doesn't look that good... If you had green blood running through your veins you would look like this guy..."
Q. What about the design for Abomination?
LL: Abomination I also started in France before I was hired with a different kind of design. I wanted to update the look... I needed to justify why his gradual transformation would look like this. To me, it was a little bit too much reptilian, a little bit too fish-like, very Creature From the Black Lagoon. I wanted to get something that could be an homage to this but would be realistic. He is a soldier who eventually becomes this... I need to justify why he would become like this... Actually, Avi Arad said 'What about the bones and stuff?’ and I said that's a great idea. The design was more like an exoskeleton became like endoskeleton based on Avi's idea.
KF: Which is why, when you see the design, he's got sort of these shards coming out of his elbows and out of the back of his ankles, his chest plate... And a lot of it was designed knowing that we weren't going to encounter one of the biggest brawls that we'd ever put on film [until] the third act of this movie. It was gonna be two creatures going at it in fisticuffs. So a lot of the design and a lot of the reasons he has these pointy
things is so he could use them in battle. And one of the final reasons, because it was big discussion we had about the ears for Abomination which are quite iconic... That's what it came down to. In the choreography you would see that Hulk is not going for the ears.
LL: It doesn't make sense and he's like, 'Ah, I cannot fight him' and you just take the ears and rip them out and then the guy is...
KF: Because they go at it at the end of it, they're clawing each other and that's gonna be a nice. And it's not a gore-fest where people should be ripping their ears off.
Q. How long is the end sequence?
LL: The end piece where everybody knows where he is 26 minutes. They converge and then we'll show you some stuff afterwards. The fight is pretty long - it's like 10 or 15 minutes long. It's a big fight. Definitely the longest fight I've ever choreographed.
KF: But people who are expecting a 26 minute They Live homage, it's not quite that...
LL: It's a little bit of a They Live homage.
Q. How is the syrum used in terms of how Tim turns into
Abomination? What are the variables?
KF: It's a very different process from the accident that occurred for Bruce, which occurred almost entirely on gamma radiation when he was in that chair experimenting trying to bring out strength within somebody and the injection that Blonsky gets. But absolutely, I think with any Marvel character, it always is the personality of the person. What if somebody else had been bitten by the spider? What if somebody else was hit by the cosmic waves? What if, and you see in the end of Iron Man, what if some body else had that suit... And especially in the case of Bruce Banner in this film, it's usually the person that least wants it. Bruce wasn't in that chair to get strength. He was in that chair to experiment and to prove a theory that he had and in doing so opened Pandora's box and which he spent all the intervening time between the title sequence and the meeting in Brazil and even the first half of this film, trying to lock again, trying to keep at bay. And over the course of the movie, as you've heard us say ad nauseum now about him becoming Hulk as hero, he learns that in the right hands... And it's only until he sees it in the absolute wrong hands, that he realizes that he could be someone to control it for good.
GALE ANNE HURD: And that contrasts with Emile Blonsky who is
very much after that kind of power.
Q. How different from the first films did you want the
relationships to be between Ross and Banner?
LL: Well, it was not a subject in the first one. The
treatment was a little different than ours. The base is the same. They know
each other and he's still the father of Betty Ross and [she] is the love of
Bruce Banner's life.
But our movie...I just didn't want to do the same thing.
It's a good question and that's why we have to make people understand this is
not a sequel to the first movie but it's [also] not a reboot of the first movie
where you do the same thing again. It's not an origin story where you wait 40
minutes for Bruce Banner with his bicycle helmet to come in. Everybody knows
that and Kyle's credit sequence explains that in two minutes. Nowadays, comic
book fans, TV watching people, you give them like two images they understand
the origin. For a long time we scratched our heads and then we came up with
this credit sequence which explained everything you needed to know. For the
longest time it was during flashbacks or you were going forward in nowhere land
like, 'Who's this guy? Am I watching the sequel?' So we said 'let's shove
everything up front and it's going to be really beautiful and we used some of
the stuff that we had shot and didn’t know where we were going to use that...
Q. Are there any hints to other heroes in the movie?
KF: Well, we've already talked about the super soldier syrum which is directly referenced in the film so it sort of hints at the same character and we've announced a release date for that film as well. The idea is, two or three years from now, you can look back at the movies and see how they're all interconnected. There are a number of points in this film that will connect into that bigger Marvel universe.
To answer your question about Ross and Better and Bruce, it goes back to the comics. It's the same source material and it really is trying not to ignore that or choose different characters... General Ross and Betty Ross were the core relationships in Bruce's life and we wanted to continue to explore that and I think throughout the course of the film people will feel is a very emotional way.
Q. Hulk talks but not complete sentences, right? What is his level of dumbness?
KF: I don't know if it was dumb. Whether it was speaking or not speaking, I don't know that the Hulk was ever dumb. He is not verbose in his linguistics.
LL: You get an understanding... That's my stupid French guy analogy of the Hulk. Let's say Banner has become Hulk nine times when we first see this guy on screen. It's like a five-day old baby and Hulk, like a baby, every time he opens his eyes, people are shooting at him or hitting him, so he becomes a reactively aggressive creature, a defensive creature. In this movie he gets to Hulk-out a few times and gets to learn things along the way, meeting people, meeting different characters, different opponents. That's why in the beginning he's very primal in his way of fighting, but once he fights
Abomination at the end, he learns new tricks, new stuff. His evolution is quite important. Banner's evolution in the movie, we get him at a certain point and bring him to another one, but the really interesting evolution to follow is the evolution of The Hulk and how the two of them come together. In the comic book Banner hates Hulk, Hulk hates Banner and that's the start of our movie and then we take it someplace else. The evolution of these two characters brings us to the finale.
I hope you got all of that because that was deep, man.
Q. There are so many different Hulk personas in the comics. Is that a direction you'd want to pursue or would you want to keep it grounded in a TV series reality?
KF: I think there are a ton of great stories from the books and he already talked about Hulk Gray, which Jeph Loeb, who was part of our discussion group for this... Louis always had a copy of Hulk gray in his back pocket. Just so you know, Hulk Gray is not just another color; it's almost like another character of Hulk. In those comics, there was great stuff with Thunderbolt, with Betty, with Hulk and, in particular, a shot with Betty and Hulk in this grado, this cave that was a direct inspiration for a big scene in the center of
our film. When Louis was framing shots and the animators were animating, it was always going directly back to that comic for stylistic and framing inspiration.
LL: It's a great comic if you want to get accustomed to the world of Hulk, for somebody who's a novice and doesn't know what to get, it's a great comic to get. It's not as convoluted as some of the more recent comics are. It's more modern in its storytelling. The first time I met Kevin and walked around a comic book shop in April 2006, that was the only Hulk comic book they had, I picked it up and read it and got excited. Hulk, for me, I
remembered the old Hulk, the leaders army and stuff like that. It was quite complicated. I wanted something that was more basic but I didn't want to go back to the army testing of gamma bombs. I wanted the exploration of Hulk's psyche and I got that in Hulk Gray.
KF: There are a lot of stories we'd like to tell. We'd love to do Hulk Gray some day. We were talking the other day about Red Hulk, which is in the comics now. How good is that? So there are a lot of stories to tell.
Q. How much is he destroying in this movie?
GAH: A lot. And that's just the beginning. One of the things that people always wondered was what would happen if you put him in a big city.
Q. I want him leveling buildings.
LL: You'll get that. That's one of the reasons I'm a
Q. Is he a complete raging Hulk?
GAH: Only in response to a threat from someone or something.
LL: If he Hulks out for some reason... It's in reaction to something. He uses this as a weapon. He's defensive he's not aggressive. That's something we were very conscious of is not to make Hulk a villain that eventually gets a conscious.
KF: And he's not if you notice in that bottling sequence, he's trying to get away. He's trying to get out and that's what he ends up doing is bashing out eventually.
Q. Gale you worked on both movies and this is not a reboot...
GAH: It is a reboot.
LL: Okay, you guy's task is to find the right name for it.
GAH: The reason reboot is kind of wrong is that implies an origin story like Batman Begins and that is kind of wrong. If you guys can come up with a term, we'd be very grateful.
Q. At what point did you realize you wanted to make another
Hulk and who stood up and said let's make it happen again?
KF: When we got our slate funding and we looked at what characters we'd like to bring to the screen, first it was Iron Man, because we'd just gotten that character back from New Line and we spoke with Universal about bringing Hulk back...
Q. Can you talk about casting Edward Norton?
KF: We knew that we were going to redesign Hulk from the first film. We knew that tonally it was going to be a big tonal shift
Q. Any interest in Bana returning?
GAH: Then it is a sequel and it would be more confusing.
KF: I love Eric and we did have conversations with him but we did want to start fresh and it was the comic books and the TV series that we were really tapping into which is why we kept the same characters and just revamped the look and the tone.
GAH: You look at Edward Norton's body of work and you look at someone who has the intelligence to play a scientist who isn't a bodybuilder guy, someone who looks like an average person and also is playing the duality that is inherent in the character. You look at Edward's films from Primal Fear to Fight Club and you realize that there isn't anyone more right for the role than Edward.
LL: He was tough to convince because he obviously had been offered other superhero movies before... Although he always regrets not being offered Spider-man. He says that's the one I wanted to do. So this one we had to come back to him a few times and he finally said 'I see the vision.' We had a dinner with him in New York and he said nothing the entire time. I was [talking about] explosions. He said he had to go and I [thought it] was the worst meeting I ever had.
GAH: But it wasn't, because he came to LA... He wanted to see the imagery that Louis had talked about because you can't, sitting there in a dark restaurant in New York...
LL: It was actually very funny. Very early we talked about the fighting style so it was Edward and myself in the middle of the Marvel office pushing all the furniture [and acting it out]. Mr. Intellectual actor brawling around with me... (Laughs)
KF: It was the Bill Bixby shoes that we'll never really be able to fill but we wanted to come close to. And even in the few clips that you've seen, Edward is not the kind of person that you expect to see running and dodging bullets and being hunted by the military. Just like Bill Bixby, just like Bruce Banner, he's a scientist; he's supposed to be in the classroom working in a laboratory teaching kids. The fact that this affliction has overcome him and he's forced... These scenarios help with this pathos. You say it was sad, in every episode; it sort of was at the end. You know, he would come to a town, he would take an odd job because he wanted to try to into a laboratory or reasons you will discover while watching the film [as to] why he is working in that bottling factory. He's trying to get access to things to try to work on this cure for himself.
Q. Tell us about Norton's involvement as a writer and the rumors that he's not happy with the project?
KF: Well the writing was something that happened as we were meeting with him early on and he was getting more and more enthusiastic about what we were doing and about what the film could be. It was at a point where Zak [Penn] had gone off and was going to promote... He was finishing The Grand and we needed a polish, we needed a rewrite and Edward said, 'We've all been talking for hours and hours over days and days. Can I have a shot at doing the next rewrite?' And that's what he did a very good job of it.
And all the rumors of the fighting, you know, we've said it and I hope it has been put to rest for the most part, but the conversations we've had between the three of us and Edward in production and in post was no more or less passionate or argumentative than any other film we've ever done. The difference was he's a movie star and he's a movie star who has reputations from other movies for whatever reason and the press just latched onto it. If the press was in the cutting room on Iron Man or X-Men 1, 2 or 3 or with us with Sam and Sony on the Spidey movies there's always something to write about. There are always new ideas, there are always disagreements, and there are always changes. It becomes a story when it's someone the caliber of Edward Norton. I think he's done an amazing job, I think he's setting it at rest and supporting the movie. He's making a number of appearances for the film that haven't been revealed yet...
Q. What’s the final run time?
Q. How much did you leave out?
GAH: It not like that really. You're constantly refining it so it's not like there's a running time that we started with to get to this point. There's always evolution...
KF: Every Marvel movie has had its three hour cut, it's 2:45 cut, it's 2:30 cut and then comes to live anywhere between 1:50 and 2:10. X-Men 1 was 92 minutes.
GAH: Because there's visual effects sequences coming in, there's shots coming in. All of that changes the mix as you're going through post-production. Louis, who I have to tell you, has been up at times, what, four days straight?
LL: Actually, last week I was up all week long.
GAH: He's not exaggerating.
KF: I wish he was.
LL: I woke up Saturday night, I went back to sleep two days ago, yeah?
GAH: But that's what it takes. You're refining it and it's a 24-hour-a-day job refining it. It's not as clinical as, 'Okay, there's this version and then you consciously follow a process to get to another version. It's completely organic.
Q. It seems like this is poised to be the surprise of the summer. Why is Hulk 2 not on the Marvel slate?
KF: In the next three years, no, we announced Iron Man 2,
Thor, Cap and Avengers.
The four films that we announced we needed to lock up release dates which we've done. The whole idea of a crossover that we've talked about, Hulk will pop up very soon.
Q. Were you working with the DVD and Blu-Ray release in mind?
LL: Yeah because your movie lives three weeks, a month and a half if you're lucky, in the theater. And for the rest of the life it lives on in DVD. Now we are the first Universal Blu-Ray DVD so we are really putting everything into it with multi-layers and everything. There's no secret. Everything that was cut out of the movie will be put onto the DVD.
We saved time by doing the Kyle Cooper stuff in the beginning. All the sequences like the lab transformation, finding Banner. All that stuff was like little flashbacks spread out throughout the film and that was one of the things we took out. So I'm gonna unravel this thing and put them in their full scene, full-length scenes on the DVD. I don't think it will be like a long edition of the movie. I don't like that because the movie now is in its perfect shape as a movie. We've dropped some images, we haven't dropped entire scenes. We dropped maybe one or two scenes. These scenes will be on the DVD of course, but also the long versions of the scenes that we compacted. I don't think I want to do a long version of the Hulk, like a two and a half hour version of this movie. For this kind of movie, these chase movies, I've done a few of them now, it doesn't work. You sort of, the audience, gets out of breath after a
while. An hour and 45, hour and 52 with credit sequence, that's the longest chase movie I've seen in a long time without losing its pace. It's just really fast so you'll get a whole lot of Hulk and you see a whole lot of scope. You start in the Arctic then you go to Brazil then you go throughout American and finish in New York City. It's huge.