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 director Louis Leterrier. Tomorrow hear from Emil Blonsky/The Abomination—Tim Roth! Then, on Friday, we wrap up the series with Marvel Studios President—Kevin Feige! Enjoy!
Let's get one thing straight: "The Incredible Hulk" movie that rumbles into theaters this Friday is not
a follow-up to Ang Lee's 2003 release "The Hulk."
If it was, director Louis Leterrier wouldn't have signed on to do the project. No disrespect to Mr. Lee, but Leterrier felt if the style being sought for "The Incredible Hulk" was more related to Lee's version, his movie would have been a "catastrophe."
After "nicely declining" to take part in the project, Leterrier was informed by Marvel that the film would be a reinvention, not a continuation. That's when "The Incredible Hulk" suddenly became more appealing.
"I went back to France," [where Leterrier lived at the time
] "and I sorta wrote a plotline that didn't start in the beginning as respect to Ang's movie…I didn't want the same thing, the same origin story," he said. "[In my version] he's already the Hulk. We'll make it a super hero movie that's not your typical super hero movie with an origin."
With the direction of the Hulk's storyline set, the next phase for Leterrier was figuring out how to balance the CG (computer graphics) with what Leterrier refers to as "real editing."
"I'm so afraid and in love with CG at the same time," he said. "This was my first CG [movie], so I didn't want to be the guy who loves CG but fails miserably. I love to use real cameras and real camera angles; I don't like to use CG cameras to fly around. It made it a little bit—quite a bit—difficult."
Growing up in France gave Leterrier more exposure to "The Incredible Hulk" television series starring Lou Ferrigno than the comics. His connection with the Hulk from the comics came after poking around the Marvel vault.
"Reading all the comic books, all the things that I really discovered and fell in love with, it was almost like I was flirting with the character," he said. "I fell in love reading the comics and I was like, this is amazing."
With an education on how the Marvel comic portrayed Bruce Banner and the Hulk, a concern for Leterrier and every director that's involved with a super hero movie is to find a way to create a film that's a loyal portrayal to the fans but that also appeals to a mass audience.
"I couldn't [include] everything I wanted, but yes, it was important that I was a fan making a movie for the fans," he said. "When you do it for the general audience, you specify for the fans and then within this you find possibly the ideal Hulk movie, which is like a good balance between everything."
The future of the Hulk franchise is something that Leterrier made a point to set up in the closing scenes of "The Incredible Hulk." With so many potential storylines that the character could possibly take, Leterrier said the conclusion of his film essentially leaves the ball in Marvel's court.
Depending on how Marvel plans to take the franchise, there are multiple ways to interpret the final shot of the movie. True Hulk fans know what paths Bruce Banner (Edward Norton) and the Hulk might take, but it will be Norton's control as an actor that will help decipher or disguise the Hulk's destiny to newcomers as well as comic fans.
"It's like that super double personality that Edward has," Leterrier said. "We set it up clearly with Edward at the end of the movie…now [Marvel] has a choice to make."
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! Remember, "The Incredible Hulk" comes to a theater near you on June 13!