Monday, April 16, 2007

Norton Goes Green; Bana Gets Bounced

I think I'm one of the few people on Earth who actually liked Ang Lee's dark, introspective take on a comic adaptation with 2003's Hulk. That said, I knew opening day that it wouldn't have legs based on its, well, dark and introspective take. That, plus the fact that it took almost an hour to see any random violence of the big and green variety. In the end, Hulk opened big, but it's second-week drop was equally large, and the movie ended up with a domestic gross of around $137 million.

Obviously this was a disappointment for Universal and Marvel, who were no doubt hoping for X-Men/Spider-Man numbers, and got something a little short of that. Then again, it sold plenty of toys, and the Hulk is still a pretty big kid in the Marvel sandbox, so it shouldn't come as any great surprise that they're going back to the well once again to see if they can't get it "right."

This time Lee's moody take has been jettisoned in favor of a more "comic book style" (interpret as you will, for good or for ill). Transporter director Louis Leterrier is at the helm of this one, so right there you know there'll be a considerable tonal shift. Also, leading man Eric Bana has been replaced by the surprising (though not unpleasant) choice of Edward Norton, who will step into the tattered purple trousers of tormented physicist Bruce Banner.

I'm a pretty big Hulk fan, due largely to the considerable influence of the '70s/'80s Bill Bixby-Lou Ferrigno Incredible Hulk TV series on my formative self, so it's good to hear that the new film, not really a sequel, not really a reboot, will pay homage not only to the comic books, but also to the show (most visibly with its title, The Incredible Hulk).
As always with these things, I'm cautiously optimistic, especially with early word that the movie's villain will be one of the Hulk's comic book baddies, The Abomination, but the fact that the script is the handiwork of writer Zak Penn, he of Elektra and X-Men: The Last Stand fame (or infamy, if you like) is definite cause for concern. The Incredible Hulk is due to smash theaters June of next year, so for now it's just going to be a lot of wait-and-see.

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