|The Incredible Hulk|
Theatrical release poster
June 13, 2008
The Incredible Hulk is a 2008 American superhero film based on the Marvel Comics character the Hulk. It is directed by Louis Leterrier and stars Edward Norton as Dr. Bruce Banner. It is the second film to be released in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. This film establishes a new backstory where Banner becomes the Hulk as an unwitting pawn in a military scheme to reinvigorate the supersoldier program through gamma radiation. On the run, he attempts to cure himself of the Hulk before he is captured by General Thaddeus "Thunderbolt" Ross (William Hurt), but his worst fears are realized when power-hungry soldier Emil Blonsky (Tim Roth) becomes a similar but more bestial creature. Liv Tyler also stars as Betty Ross, Banner's love interest and General Ross' daughter.
At Culver University in Virginia, General Thaddeus "Thunderbolt" Ross (William Hurt) meets with Dr. Bruce Banner (Edward Norton), the colleague and lover of his daughter Betty (Liv Tyler), regarding an experiment which is meant, as Ross claims, to make humans immune to gamma radiation. The experiment—which is part of an operation Ross hopes will restart Dr. Abraham Erskine's failed "super soldier" program (that created Captain America)—fails and exposes Banner to huge amounts of gamma radiation. This has the effect of transforming Banner into the Hulk whenever Banner becomes angry. As the Hulk, he destroys the lab and injures Betty. Afterwards, he flees the scene. Banner, realizing what he had done, leaves the U.S, becoming a fugitive from the U.S. military on orders by Ross.
Five years later, Banner works at a bottling factory in Rocinha, Rio de Janeiro, while searching for a cure for his condition. On the Internet, he collaborates with a colleague he knows only as "Mr. Blue", and to whom he is "Mr. Green". He is also learning meditative breathing techniques from a martial arts expert (Rickson Gracie) to help keep control, and has not transformed in record 158 days. After Banner cuts his finger, a drop of his blood falls into a bottle, and is eventually ingested by a consumer (Stan Lee) in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, creating medical complications. Using the bottle to trace Banner's location, Ross sends a team, led by British Royal Marine Emil Blonsky (Tim Roth) to capture him. Banner transforms into the Hulk and defeats Blonsky's team. After Ross explains how Banner became the Hulk, Blonsky agrees to be injected with a small amount of a serum developed as part of the same operation, which gives him enhanced speed, strength, agility and healing, but after time it begins to distort his skeleton.
Banner returns to Culver University and reunites with Betty, who is dating psychiatrist Leonard Samson (Ty Burrell). Banner is attacked by Ross and Blonsky's forces, tipped off by the suspicious Samson. The Hulk dispatches Ross and Blonsky's team and flees with Betty. After the Hulk reverts to Banner, he and Betty go on the run. Banner makes contact with Mr. Blue, who urges them to meet him in New York City. He turns out to be cellular biologist Dr. Samuel Sterns (Tim Blake Nelson), who tells Banner he has developed a possible antidote to Banner's condition. After a successful test, though he warns Banner that the antidote may only reverse each individual transformation, Sterns reveals he has synthesized Banner's blood samples, which Banner sent from Brazil, into a large supply, with the intention of applying its "limitless potential" to medicine. Appalled and fearful of the Hulk's power falling into the hands of the military, Banner attempts to convince Sterns to destroy the blood supply. Ross' forces attack and take Banner into custody with Betty.
Blonsky forces Sterns to inject him with Banner's blood, as he covets the Hulk's power. Sterns warns that the combination of the super-soldier formula and Banner's blood may cause him to become an "abomination". Unconcerned, Blonsky forces Sterns to administer the blood and a gamma charge. The experiment mutates Blonsky into a creature with strength surpassing that of the Hulk. Abomination then attacks Sterns, who gets some of Banner's blood into a cut on his forehead causing it to bulge and mutate him. Abomination then rampages through Harlem. The basic problem is that, unlike Hulk, Abomination cannot revert back to normal Blonsky state.
Realizing that the Hulk is the only one who can stop Abomination, Banner convinces Ross to release him. He jumps from Ross' helicopter and transforms after hitting the ground. After a long and brutal battle through Harlem, the Hulk defeats Abomination by choking him with a huge chain, relenting only after Betty's plea to spare him. After having a small, peaceful moment with Betty, the Hulk flees from the scene, and Banner escapes from New York.
A month later, Banner is in Bella Coola, British Columbia. Instead of trying to suppress his transformation, he is attempting to transform in a controlled manner. As his eyes turn green, a grin appears on his face, revealing he now has control of the Hulk, and ability to transform whenever he wants to do and fully control his powers.
- Edward Norton as Dr. Bruce Banner / Hulk:
A genius scientist who, because of exposure to gamma radiation, transforms into the Hulk when stressed, enraged, or excited. David Duchovny was a front-runner for the film before Norton's casting. Gale Anne Hurd recalled Norton's portrayals of duality in Primal Fear and Fight Club, while Norton reminded Kevin Feige of Bill Bixby, who played Banner in the TV series. Lou Ferrigno, who played the Hulk with Bixby, remarked Norton "has a similar physique [and a] similar personality".
- Norton was a Hulk fan, citing the first comic appearances, the Bixby TV show, and Bruce Jones' run on the comic, as his favorite depictions of the character. He had expressed interest in the role for the first film. 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 Leterrier and Marvel, he liked their vision, and believed they were looking to him to guide the project. Thus, Norton rewrote the script."Edward's script has given Bruce's story real gravitas," Leterrier 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."
- Lou Ferrigno voices The Hulk:
During the 2008 New York Comic Con Leterrier publicly offered Ferrigno the chance to voice the Hulk for the film. This marks the third time Ferrigno portrayed the Hulk, having also voiced the character in the 1996 animated series. Originally, the Hulk's only line was "Betty" at the film's ending, which would have been his first word. Leterrier was aware that fans wanted him to speak normally, and added "leave me alone" and "Hulk smash!" The latter line received cheers during a screening he attended. Ferrigno also has a cameo in the film as a security guard who is bribed by Banner with a pizza.
- Lou Ferrigno voices The Hulk:
- Liv Tyler as Dr. Elizabeth "Betty" Ross:
Bruce's girlfriend, whom he is separated from due to his condition, and a cellular biologist. Tyler replaced actress Jennifer Connelly, who portrayed Betty Ross in the 2003 film Hulk. Tyler and Connelly had previously played sisters in the 1997 film Inventing the Abbotts. 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". She was called about the role while driving to her home, and she accepted the part after a day without reading the script. Tyler and Norton spent hours discussing Bruce and Betty's life before he became the Hulk. She said filming the part "was very physical, which was fun", and compared her performance to "a deer caught in the headlights", because of Betty's shock at Bruce's unexpected return into her life.
- Tim Roth as Emil Blonsky / Abomination:
A Russian-born officer from the United Kingdom's Royal Marines Commandos loaned to General Ross. Recognizing he is past his prime, he lusts after the Hulk's power. Roth said he took the part to please his sons, who are comic-book superhero fans. As a teenager, Roth was a fan of the 1970s TV series, and he also found Leterrier's ideas "very dark and very interesting". Roth started watching the 2003 film to prepare for the part, but stopped as he did not want to be caught up in the controversy over its quality, and to compare himself to it. It was Roth who suggested Blonsky be a soldier, whereas in the comics he was a KGB agent.
- Leterrier is a fan of Roth's work, and felt "it's great watching a normal Cockney boy become a superhero!", but Marvel and Norton were initially reluctant to cast him. Before he was cast in Punisher: War Zone, Ray Stevenson was in discussions for the role. Roth prepared for the part by learning to fire guns and break into rooms with two experts. Roth found it tough shooting the chases, because he could not work out to show Blonsky's aging. He especially found it difficult to run while pulled with a harness, which was used to show the injected Blonsky's 30–40 mile per hour running abilities. Cyril Raffaelli performed some of Roth's stunts. Roth enjoyed the motion capture, which reminded him of fringe theatre, and he hired his trainer from Planet of the Apes to aid him in portraying the monster's movement.
- William Hurt as General Thaddeus "Thunderbolt" Ross:
Betty's father, who has dedicated himself to capturing the Hulk. Leterrier cast Hurt because "Ross is more physical, more explosive in this movie, and no actor goes from zero to 100 as well as William." He compared Ross to Captain Ahab. 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. 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." 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".
- Ty Burrell as Dr. Leonard Samson:
The psychiatrist in a relationship with Betty during Bruce's absence. Burrell had performed with Norton in the off Broadway play Burn This in 2003, and when Leterrier met him, he recognized Burrell as the "jerk" from the 2004 Dawn of the Dead remake, which was how Samson was characterized in the script before Norton rewrote it. He is presented as a mostly sympathetic character.
Additional cast members include Tim Blake Nelson as the scientist Samuel Sterns, and Robert Downey, Jr. has an uncredited cameo as Tony Stark at the end of the film. As The Incredible Hulk takes place during and after both Iron Man films, Stark has therefore already announced that he is Iron Man. He did it as a favor to Marvel Studios, which he acknowledged as a smart move on Marvel's part, because when he was promoting his film he would also have to mention their other production. Hulk co-creator Stan Lee cameos as a man who becomes ill when drinking the soda poisoned by Banner's blood. Michael K. Williams appears in the film, in a role that was written for him by Norton, who is a fan of The Wire. Paul Soles, who voiced Banner in the 1966 The Marvel Superheroes cartoon, cameos as Stanley, a kindly pizza restaurant owner who helps Banner. Additionally, the late Bill Bixby appears, when a scene featuring Bixby on his TV comedy-drama The Courtship of Eddie's Father plays on a television Banner is watching at the beginning of the film. Rickson Gracie has a small role as Bruce Banner's martial arts instructor, despite his Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu background, he is credited as an Aikido instructor.
Craig Armstrong was the arranger for Massive Attack, a band Leterrier was fond of and had collaborated with on Unleashed (2005). Armstrong was his first choice, which surprised Marvel, not knowing if he had scored an action film (he did compose 2001's Kiss of the Dragon). Even the temp track consisted of Armstrong's work and similar music by others. The Hulk, alongside the Green Lantern, was one of Armstrong's favorite comics as a child, although he did not see Ang Lee's Hulk.
Armstrong began composing in his home in Glasgow, Scotland with three sequences; the Hulk and Betty in the cave; the Abomination and the Hulk's alley fight; and Bruce and Betty's reunion. The majority was composed in a few weeks in Los Angeles, California, which was very intense for the director and composer. The score was recorded over four days during late 2008 in a chapel in Bastyr University, located in Kenmore, Washington. Pete Lockett played ethnic instruments in the score, which were recorded in London and mixed together with the orchestra and electronics. The score was orchestrated by Matt Dunkley and Tony Blondal
The Hulk and the Abomination both have two themes, representing their human and monstrous forms. The Hulk's theme was meant to be iconic and simple, like Jaws (1975), with string glissandos on a base C note. Banner's theme is tragic and includes parts of Joe Harnell's "The Lonely Man" theme from the television series. Armstrong played the piano for one scene featuring that piece. Blonsky has a dark theme, which becomes aggressive when he transforms. Armstrong inter played the Hulk and the Abomination's themes during their battle, and found scoring the action sequences similar to a dance. There is also a suspenseful theme, and a love theme.
Leterrier suggested the score be released on two discs, which Armstrong believed to be a joke. Only when he compiled the album – and Marvel asked why they were only given one disc – did he realize they were serious.
|Marvel Cinematic Universe Movies|