(detailed information about this entry from Wikipedia)
The Incredible Hulk is a 2008 superhero film based on the Marvel Comics character the Hulk, which was released on June 13, 2008. It is directed by Louis Leterrier and stars Edward Norton as Bruce Banner / the Hulk, Liv Tyler as Betty Ross, William Hurt as General Thaddeus "Thunderbolt" Ross, and Tim Roth as Emil Blonsky / the Abomination. The film follows Banner as he flees the pursuit of General Ross while attempting to find a cure to rid himself of the Hulk. When Blonsky personally volunteers to be injected with Banner's gamma formula to aid Ross in his capture, he becomes an even greater monster, and Banner must accept his inner beast to 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 much closer to the comics and the television series. Norton rewrote the script after he signed on to star, severing all ties to its predecessor by retelling the origin story in flashbacks and revelations, thereby establishing the film as a reboot. Filming of principal photography mostly took place in Toronto, Canada in 2007, and the film's crew went to great lengths to reduce the production's carbon emissions. Leterrier'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 bony protrusions.
A series of flashback shots show the gamma radiation accident that transformed scientist Bruce Banner (Edward Norton) into the Hulk, and hospitalized his lover Betty Ross (Liv Tyler). Now a fugitive from the United States Army, and Betty's father, General Thaddeus "Thunderbolt" Ross (William Hurt), Banner goes on the run for five years. He settles in Brazil, working in a soft drink bottling factory while attempting to find a cure for his condition with the help of an Internet friend, "Mr. Blue". He also studies martial arts and meditative breathing techniques with a Brazilian Jujitsu expert (Rickson Gracie) to help control his emotions, and has not suffered a transformation for five months.
After Banner suffers a cut, and his blood drips into a soda bottle eventually drank by an ill-fated consumer in Milwaukee, Wisconsin (Stan Lee), Ross discovers Banner's location, and sends a team to capture him, led by Russian-born British special operations expert Emil Blonsky (Tim Roth). Following a ferocious battle in the soft drink bottling plant where he transforms into the Hulk, Banner escapes Blonsky, and ends up in Guatemala. He travels to the United States, where he sees that a now-recovered Betty is working at Culver University and is dating psychiatrist Leonard Samson (Ty Burrell). He also sees his old friend Stanley, a pizzeria owner, who gives him a job as a delivery boy. Banner uses this job to sneak past a security guard (Lou Ferrigno) to continue his research. After Betty visits the pizzeria and sees Bruce, she later reunites with him.
Blonsky reports to Ross that Banner evaded them in Brazil because of the appearance of a large green monster. Ross explains that the monster is Banner, and that he was created accidentally during an experiment in radiation-resistance that was inspired by World War II era military bio-force enhancement research (or "Super-Soldiers", as Blonsky puts it). Blonsky, seeking both revenge and power, volunteers as a test subject in order to capture Banner, and receives a small dose of the mothballed original Vita Ray serum. He leads an assault on Banner at Culver University, during which Betty is knocked unconscious. Despite Blonsky's increased strength, speed and agility, the Hulk crushes most of the bones in Blonsky's body. The Hulk saves Betty from an explosion and escapes with her to the Smoky Mountain National Forest.
Banner and Betty then travel to Empire State University in New York City, where they meet "Mr. Blue", Samuel Sterns (Tim Blake Nelson). Accompanying Sterns to his lab, Banner and Betty learn that Sterns has developed a possible antidote that may cure Banner's condition or merely reverse each individual transformation while an overdose could kill him. Despite the risks, Banner agrees to test Sterns' antidote and is restrained before being shocked into transforming with electricity before being reverted to normal with an injection of the serum. Exhilarated by the success of the antidote, Sterns reveals that he has synthesized Banner's blood sample into a large supply with the intention of using it to enhance the human condition to the next evolutionary level. Appalled by what Sterns had done and fearful of the Hulk's power falling into the wrong hands, Banner attempts to convince Sterns to destroy the blood supply but is shot by a tranquillizer from one of General Ross' snipers.
As both Banner and Betty are taken into custody, Blonsky, whose super-soldier treatment has healed all his injuries but is desperate for more power, demands Sterns subject him to a dose of the Banner's gamma radiation treatment. Sterns warns that the combination of the Super Soldier formula and a gamma treatment would be an unpredictable combination that could turn him into an "abomination". Blonsky is less than concerned about this, and Sterns promptly administers the gamma charge. As Blonsky mutates into the monstrous Abomination, he knocks Sterns aside and an irradiated sample of Banner's blood-derivative drips into an open wound on Sterns's temple, causing his cranium to mutate and expand. In an attempt to draw the Hulk out, the Abomination goes on a rampage through Harlem and Banner, realizing that he is the only one who can stop the Abomination, convinces General Ross to release him. He jumps out of Ross' helicopter as it hovers over the city, hoping the fall will stimulate his adrenal glands into triggering a transformation. Banner's plan succeeds and after a brutal battle the Hulk manages to defeat the Abomination by strangling him with a huge chain, though he releases his grip after a plea from Betty. The Abomination collapses, and the Hulk flees the scene with the army in hot pursuit.
Thirty-one days later, Banner is in Bella Coola, British Columbia. Instead of trying to suppress his transformations, he is attempting to initiate them in a controlled manner. As his eyes turn green, a grin appears on his face. Meanwhile, General Ross is drinking in a bar when he is approached by Tony Stark (Robert Downey, Jr.) who reveals that a "team" is being put together.
|"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
Edward Norton as Bruce Banner / Hulk: A genius scientist who, because of exposure to gamma radiation, transforms into the Hulk when stressed, enraged, or excited. Eric Bana turned down reprising the role, as he viewed the first film as a one-time opportunity. Gale Ann 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 Letterier and Marvel, however, he liked their vision, and believed they were looking to him to guide the project. Thus, Norton rewrote the script. "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."
- Lou Ferrigno voices The Hulk: During the 2008 New York Comic Con director Louis Leterrier offered Ferrigno the chance to voice the Hulk for the film. Ferrigno also has a cameo in the film as a security guard who is bribed by Banner with a pizza.
Liv Tyler as Dr. Elizabeth "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". 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 as Bruce's unexpected return into her life.
Tim Roth as Emil Blonsky / Abomination: A Russian-born officer from the United Kingdom Special Forces loaned to General Ross. Recognizing he is past his prime, he lusts after the Hulk's power. The character is known as the "Abomination" in the comics, but Zak Penn considered this name too silly, and he is only referred to as Blonsky on screen (though Dr. Sterns does warn that the experiment may turn him into "an abomination"). Roth took the part to please his sons, who are both comic book superhero fans. As a teenager, Roth was a fan of the TV show, 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.
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 found it tough playing Blonsky: although he constantly chases Banner, Roth could not work out because he had to portray Blonsky's aging that foreshadows his desire to become the Abomination. 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. 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." 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".
Additional cast members include Tim Blake Nelson as the scientist Samuel Sterns, and Ty Burrell as psychiatrist Leonard Samson.
Robert Downey, Jr. cameos as Tony Stark at the end of the film, reprising his role from Iron Man. He did it as a favor to Marvel Studios, which he acknowledged as a smart move, because when he was promoting his film he would also have to mention their other production. Hulk co-creator Stan Lee makes an appearance in a scene which Kevin Feige claimed "the whole plot of the movie hinges on". 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.
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. During the filming of Hulk, producer Avi Arad had a target May 2005 theatrical release date. On January 18, 2006 Arad confirmed Marvel Studios would be providing the money for The Incredible Hulk's production budget, with Universal distributing, because Universal did not meet the deadline for filming a sequel. Marvel felt it would be better to deviate from Ang Lee's style to continue the franchise, arguing his film was like a parallel universe one-shot comic book, and their next film needed to be, in Kevin Feige's words, "really starting the Marvel Hulk franchise". Producer Gale Ann Hurd also felt the film had to meet what "everyone expects to see from having read the comics and seen the TV series".
Louis Leterrier, who enjoyed the TV series as a child and liked the first film, had expressed interest in directing the Iron Man film adaptation. Jon Favreau had taken that project, so Marvel offered him the Hulk. Leterrier was reluctant as he was unsure if he could replicate Lee's style, but Marvel explained that was not their intent. Leterrier's primary inspiration was Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale's Hulk: Gray (a retelling of his first appearance). He replicated every comic book panel that he pinned-up during pre-production, from the many comics he browsed, in the final film. Leterrier said that he planned to show Bruce Banner's struggle with the monster within him, while 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". Avi Arad also said the film would be "a lot more of a love story between Bruce Banner and Betty Ross".
The first screenwriter, Zak Penn, said the film would follow up Hulk, but stressed it would be more tonally similar to the TV show and Bruce Jones' run on the comic. He compared his script to Aliens, which was a very different film to Alien, but still in the same continuity. The Incredible Hulk had been a working title for the first film before being changed to simply Hulk. Penn wrote three drafts, before departing in early 2007 to direct The Grand. 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. Leterrier acknowledged the only remaining similarity between the two films was Bruce hiding in South America, and that the film was a unique reboot, as generally audiences would have expected another forty minute origin story. Leterrier felt audiences were left restless waiting for the character to arrive in Ang Lee's film.
Norton explained of his decision to ignore Lee's origin story, "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." "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". Instead, editor Kyle Cooper, who also created the Marvel logo (with the flipping pages) and the montage detailing Iron Man's biography in that film, edited together a three-minute opening flashback to the Hulk's origin. Norton's rewrite also added the character of Doc Samson and made references to other Marvel characters, while writing out Rick Jones and toning down S.H.I.E.L.D.'s presence. Norton rewrote scenes every day. Ultimately, the Writers Guild of America decided to credit the script solely to Penn.
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 Thaddeus "Thunderbolt" Ross. 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." Roth concurred the Abomination from the comic was rooted in the Cold War.
 Filming and editing
Leterrier had to direct four units with a broken foot. Filming began on July 9, 2007. Hamilton, Ontario was the shooting location for an exploding factory and part of the Hulk and the Abomination's battle. The film's sets were built in Toronto. There, they shut down Yonge Street for four nights in September, to shoot the Hulk and the Abomination's clash at 125th Street. They also shot at the University of Toronto, Morningside Park and the Financial District; CFB Trenton in Trenton, Ontario; and at a glacier in Bella Coola, British Columbia. Afterwards, there was a week-long shoot in New York City and two weeks in Rio de Janeiro, where filming concluded in November.
The Incredible Hulk joined Toronto's Green-Screen initiative, to help cut carbon emissions and waste created during filming. Producer Gale Ann Hurd acknowledged the Hulk, being green, was a popular environmental analogy, and Norton himself was an environmentalist. Hybrid and fuel efficient vehicles were used, with low sulfur diesel as their energy source. The construction department used a sustainably harvested, locally sourced yellow pine instead of lauan for the sets, and also used zero-or low-VOC paint. The wood was generally recycled or given to environmental organizations, and paint cans were handed to waste management. In addition, they used; cloth bags; biodegradable food containers; china and silverware food utensils; a stainless steel mug for each production crew member; a contractor who removed bins; recycled paper; biodegradable soap and cleaners in the trailers and production offices; and the sound department used rechargeable batteries.
Seventy minutes of footage, mostly dealing with the origin, was not included in the final cut. This included an early scene where Banner comes to the Arctic to commit suicide, which was considered too intense for young viewers. Norton and Leterrier disputed with the producers over the final running time: they wanted a it to be near 135 minutes, while the producers 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". 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."
The Hulk faces down Emil Blonsky.
Leterrier had planned to use prosthetic makeup and animatronics to compliment the computer-generated imagery that was solely used in the previous film. Norton and Roth provided motion capture for their characters, and filmed their fights on a stage with 37 digital cameras. Leterrier cited the motion capture potrayals of Gollum and King Kong by Andy Serkis (from The Lord of the Rings and King Kong) as the standard he was aiming for. The two actors filmed 2500 takes of different movements the monsters would make (such as the Hulk's "thunder claps"). Leterrier hired Rhythm and Hues to provide the CGI, while Image Engine spent over a year working on a shot where Banner's gamma-iradiated blood falls through three factory floors into a bottle.
Dale Keown's comic book artwork of the Hulk was an inspiration for his design. Leterrier felt the first Hulk had "too much fat [and] the proportions were a little off". He explained, "The Hulk is beyond perfect so there is zero grams of fat, all chiseled, and his muscle and strength defines this creature so he’s like a tank." Visual effects supervisor Kurt Williams envisioned the Hulk's physique as a linebacker rather than a bodybuilder. A height of nine feet was chosen for the character as they did not want him to be too inhuman. To make him more expressive, computer programs controlling the inflation of his muscles and saturation of skin color were created. Williams cited flushing as an example of humans' skin color being influenced by their emotions. Leterrier cited An American Werewolf in London as the inspiration for Banner's transformation, wanting to show how painful it was for him to change. As a nod to the live action TV series, Banner's eyes change color first when he transforms.
Bruce Banner's eyes turn green as he transforms into the 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. The character also shares Roth's tattoos. A height of 10 feet was chosen for the character. Leterrier tried to work in the character's pointed ears, but realized the Hulk would bite them off (using the example of Mike Tyson when he fought Evander Holyfield), and felt ignoring that would make the Hulk come across as stupid.
The make-up artists who worked on X-Men: The Last Stand created Blonsky's gradual transformation. 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]."
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. Scottish composer Craig Armstrong visited Seattle to compose the score with Leterrier, aiming to create a truly iconic theme for the character. Marvel were so proud of the score that they decided to release it as a two-disc soundtrack.
|"We know the Hulk from 2003 didn't satisfy the fans, and we had to acknowledge that. We emphasized the passion that fans still have for this character and that this is the movie people have always wanted."
—Stephanie Sperber, executive vice-president of Universal Studios Partnerships
Universal and its promotional partners have tried to position The Incredible Hulk as a franchise reboot similar to Batman Begins. Effort was made to promote the story as having a romance and a physical antagonist, and the title was used for promotional puns (such as 7-Eleven's "Incredible Gulp" slurpees, and "Incredible Dad" themed Father's Day gifts at Kmart). Burger King also promoted the film, and General Nutrition Centers used the title character as a role model for strength training. Hasbro created the toy line, which they released on May 3, 2008, while Sega released a video game on June 5, 2008. The film was promoted in an episode of American Gladiators on June 9, 2008, which was hosted by Hulk Hogan and featured Lou Ferrigno.
 Box office
In its opening weekend, the film grossed an estimated $54.5 million in 3,505 theaters in the United States and Canada, ranking #1 at the box office. Behind Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer, it was the second-highest gross for a film released over a Father's Day weekend. This surpassed the Los Angeles Times's report of expectations of a $45 million opening, following the disappointing response to the 2003 film. Universal believed word of mouth will contribute to the film eventually breaking even. A Cinemascope poll indicated the majority of viewers were male and graded the film an A-, and 82% of them had seen the 2003 film. It also opened in thirty-eight other countries, which added $31 million to the total opening. The film outgrossed the 2003 film in South Korea, while its openings in Mexico and Russia created records for Universal.
The Incredible Hulk received generally postive reviews from critics. As of June 15, 2008, the review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes reported that 66% of 143 critics gave the film positive reviews. Metacritic reported the film had an average score of 61 out of 100, based on 36 reviews. It received an average score of 71.3% from 34 film critics according to Movie Tab. According to Rotten Tomatoes The Incredible Hulk received better reviews than the earlier film Hulk which 61% of critics gave positive reviews based on 219 reviews. Rene Rodriguez of The Miami Herald applauded that the film "does a lot of things [Ang] Lee's Hulk didn't: It's lighter and faster-paced, it's funnier and it embraces (instead of ignoring) the 1970s TV series that furthered the character's popularity". Mark Rahner of The Seattle Times wrote that, "The relaunch of Marvel's green goliath is an improvement over director Ang Lee's ponderous 2003 Hulk in nearly every way — except that the actual Hulk still looks scarcely better than something from a video game, and he still barely talks". Lou Lumenick of The New York Post said, "What lingers in my memory ... is the lengthy, essentially animated climactic battle between the Hulk and the Abomination on the streets and rooftops of Harlem, and an earlier showdown between the title creature and the U.S. Army, which is deploying high-tech weapons including sound-wave cannons. These are expertly staged by director Louis Leterrier, who disposes of the backstory under the opening credits and wraps up the whole thing in twenty-four minutes less than [Ang] Lee took".
Conversely, Christy Lemire of the Associated Press found that "the inevitable comparisons to Iron Man, Marvel Studios' first blockbuster this summer, serve as a glaring reminder of what this Hulk lacks: wit and heart. Despite the presence of Edward Norton, an actor capable of going just as deep as Robert Downey Jr., we don't feel a strong sense of Bruce Banner's inner conflict". A.O. Scott of The New York Times opined, "'The Adequate Hulk' would have been a more suitable title. There are some big, thumping fights and a few bright shards of pop-cultural wit, but for the most part this movie seems content to aim for the generic mean". David Ansen of Newsweek wrote, "Leterrier has style, he's good with action and he's eager to give the audience its money's worth of bone-crunching battles. Still, once the movie leaves the atmospheric Brazilian settings, nothing in this "Hulk" sinks in deeply: its familiar genre pleasures are all on the surface. ... The movie's scene stealer is Tim Blake Nelson, making a comically welcome third act appearance as the unethical but madly enthusiastic scientist Samuel Stern".
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. Nelson is signed on to reprise the role. Ty Burrell wants to portray the superpowered Doc Samson faithfully to the comics. 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." Leterrier made the film's final shot of Banner ambiguous, so if there is not a sequel, the shot would instead indicate that in the scheduled 2011 feature The Avengers, he becomes a menace.
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