By Ryan Penagos and Zack Zeigler
Ready for "The Incredible Hulk"?! Well, before you head out to your favorite theater, we here at Marvel.com wanted to get you close enough to the film to feel the gamma glow! Our "'The Incredible Hulk' Up Close" series of articles lets you hear from the film's key players—today it's Marvel Studios President—Kevin Feige! Don't miss our "Up Close" interviews with Emil Blonsky/the Abomination—Tim Roth and director Louis Leterrier! Enjoy!
Edward Norton chats
with Kevin Feige
A Marvel veteran with nearly a decade of experience at the House of Ideas under his belt, Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige has been associated with nearly every film in the Marvel library. Now, smashing into theaters everywhere today, arrives Feige's latest achievement in evolving comics from paper pages to the silver screen—"The Incredible Hulk."
Beginning with 2000's "X-Men," Feige has been at the forefront of progressing films in the genre. His attention to a character's detail and quality of story—as opposed to simply being big-budget special effects displays—is what separates him from other, less detail-oriented producers.
"Pay attention to the source material," Feige said. "Make it as much about the characters as about the visual effects. Frankly, I've just been waiting for us to finish ['The Incredible Hulk'] so we can show it to people."
His excitement for this version of Bruce Banner's alter ego has been five years in the making.
"We took this film in the right direction," he said. "I was disappointed with the response [of 2003's "The Hulk"], that we didn't deliver the other 99% of what fans knew and expected and enjoyed about the Hulk character. After that, it became a secret dream of mine to have a second bite at the apple, so to speak."
To cure his hunger for another opportunity to do the Hulk justice, Feige began to ponder different directions the next film could take.
"If we compare the first Hulk, Ang Lee's 'Hulk' to 'Star Trek: The Motion Picture,' I wanted the next Hulk to be comparable to the 'Wrath of Khan,' he said. "Which is not only more bombastic and more action-oriented and entertaining, but at the same time has characterizations that are even more recognizable to what fans were expecting."
The expectations moviegoers now have for comic book films, especially after "Iron Man" again raised the bar, has Feige and Marvel Entertainment looking to evolve the product yet again. To achieve that, a deeper relationship between the characters that live in the Marvel Universe has come to the fore.
For example, giving Tony Stark a cameo in "The Incredible Hulk" not only serves as a means of cross promotion, but also boldy sets the stage for films that involve more than one super hero as the protagonist.
"It didn't take us long to look at our roster and realize, wait a minute, 'Iron Man,' 'Hulk,' 'Thor,' 'Captain America' (the last two are to be released in 2010 and 2011 respectively)…It's the Avengers, and that's clearly by design," Feige said. "The road to 'The Avengers' is what I'm most excited about. [I'm also] excited about watching what happens when these four or five very different personalities are forced to sit together in one room."
It's important not to allow the seeds that are planted in films like "Iron Man" or "The Incredible Hulk" to distract from the overall experience of watching the film, Feige explained. That line is difficult to walk, but with a positive response to Samuel L. Jackson's brief appearance as Nick Fury at the conclusion of "Iron Man," and Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) in "The Incredible Hulk," Marvel's idea has been a success.
"Even if only a third of the movie theater buzzes about it, the other 80% will look over to their friends next to them and go, 'What's that? Who do [you] see? What's there?'" he said. "It starts a dialogue that only builds on that anticipation for the next films."
Need to catch up on your Hulk reading? Looking for the perfect stories starring the Jade Giant? Check out our list of the 10 Collections marked as required reading by any Hulk fan!
Read classic Hulk stories in Marvel Digital Comics Unlimited! Take pictures with a life-size Hulk statue at select theaters nationwide! Visit the official "The Incredible Hulk" movie site! Go see "The Incredible Hulk" at a theater near you now!