He’s big; He’s green; and he’s one of the most recognizable characters in comics today. But how come he’s never been able to make a big screen verso work?
The Hulk has been the subject of two major motion pictures in the past ten years; each made back their budget (and then some), but failed to live up to the super-sized performances of their colleagues and counterparts such as Iron Man, The Dark Knight Returns, Spider-man and X-Men. Each film saw the studios revamp and recast its primary roles, and in light of the upcoming 2012 film The Avengers puts noted actor Mark Ruffalo in the green-skinned guise of Bruce Banner. Shortly after Ruffalo was announced for the role of the Hulk in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Marvel’s newly-minted TV department announced that Guillermo del Toro and David Eick were working on a TV series. Putting that aside for now, a successful outing in Joss Whedon’s The Avengers film would prime the pump and begin the speculation on if a third time is the charm for a Hulk movie.
Instead of waiting until summer 2012 however, let’s dig in and see what a rejuvenated Hulk movie could look like.
Although word isn’t out as to what happens to the Hulk in next year’s The Avengers, there’s room for speculation on the other side of the Marvel movie-verse. Instead of trying to revisit and retell the Hulk’s origin so soon after the early 2000s Ang Lee film, that origin could be accomplished in the opening credits akin to the opening sequence in Grant Morrison & Frank Quitely’s All-Star Superman. With that out of the way, a new Hulk film could show an enterprising Hulk superfan such as Amadeus Cho out to find the reclusive Bruce Banner who is on the run from S.H.I.E.L.D. While trying to stay in the shadows, Cho pulls Banner out into society just in time to see the rise of the Absorbing Man fresh from prison breakout and hyped up with powers thanks to Loki. Bruce Banner embracing the powers of the Hulk to stop a super-powered threat such as Absorbing Man while trying to stay two steps ahead of S.H.I.E.L.D. I’d keep Betty Ross in the picture but off-screen for this new film, instead having her communicate to Banner by letter and voice-over.
In his past two outings, the Hulk has had two acclamed and diverse directors in Ang Lee and Louis Leterrier; maybe it’s time to treat The Hulk like the monster movie it is and enlist Monsters filmmaker Gareth Edwards. He’s already shown he knows special effects and how to direct a movie using them without overpowering the story behind it. He’s already been put on standby to revamp the Godzilla franchise for American audiences, but maybe he should trade up his green-skinned goliaths and call Marvel his home.
The Hulk / Mark Ruffalo:
Although he’s yet to hulk out on the big screen, Ruffalo’s excitement showed through in a recent MTV interview hyping up next year’s The Avengers. The award-winning actor could turn it up the volume on a super-hero suspense story that can be quality without forsaking its blockbuster potential.
The Absorbing Man / Dominic Purcell:
He may not seem like the A-List villain needed to fill out the villain role in a Marvel movie, but with some expert screenwriting and awesome special effects “Crusher” Creel could be a formidable presence. Although he’s yet to carry a major motion picture on his own, Prison Break’s Dominic Purcell has the look, the background and the chops to be a force to be reckoned with.
Amadeus Cho / Aaron Yoo:
Although he’s relatively new to comics in the broad scale of things, Amadeus Cho could be a male-equivalent to Kat Dennings’ Darcy in Thor will some amazingly cerebral humor and tactics. More than just a tech-guy for a hero to call, Cho could be the viewer’s own vantage point into the Hulk world and make it seem real and still supernaturally awesome.
In the grand tradition of Marvel 'seeding' films with potential spin-offs, nods to comic continuity and just plain nerd bait, here's two ideas for Kevin Fiege to consider. The first would be to pit young attorney Jennifer Walters as the public defender of Absorbing Man prior to his prison escape, leading her to be injured in his breakout. Second would be in the end-credits scene: imagine waiting in a darkened theatre to see the Illuminati meeting up to discuss jettisoning the rampaging Hulk off the Earth and into a “Planet Hulk”-eque storyarc for the second film.