For the character known by the same name as this film, see Hulk
|Directed by:||Ang lee|
|Produced by:||Avi Arad|
Larry J. Franco
Gale Anne Hurd
Based on comic book characters by:
Stan Lee & Jack Kirby
|The Incredible Hulk (new franchise)|
Hulk is a 2003 superhero film based on the Marvel Comics character of the same name. Ang Lee directed the film, which stars Eric Bana as Dr. Bruce Banner, as well as Jennifer Connelly as Betty Ross, Sam Elliott as General Thaddeus Ross, Nick Nolte as David Banner and Josh Lucas as Major Glenn Talbot. The film explores the origins of the Hulk, which is mainly attributed to Banner's father's experiments on himself, and passing these genes on to his son.
David Banner (not the same character as in the TV series) is a genetics researcher who experiments on himself, trying to improve human DNA. Once his wife gives birth to their son Bruce, David realizes attempts to find a cure for the child's condition when the government, represented by Thaddeus "Thunderbolt" Ross, shuts down his research after learning of his dangerous experiment. David, in a fit of rage, causes a massive explosion of the facilities' gamma reactor and accidentally kills his wife. He is then put into a mental hospital, while four-year-old Bruce is sent into foster care and adopted, taking on the last name of Krenzler, believing his biological parents are deceased. The events leave Bruce unable to conjure the memories into reality.
Thirty years later, Bruce Banner is a brilliant researcher freshly graduated at the University of California, Berkeley. The military-industrial complex, represented by the unscrupulous Major Talbot, becomes interested in the research to build regenerating soldiers. David Banner reappears and begins infiltrating his son's life, working as a janitor in the lab building. "Thunderbolt" Ross, now an army General, also begins to investigate. Ross, the estranged father of Bruce's girlfriend and co-researcher Betty Ross, becomes concerned both for his daughter's safety around Banner, but also because Bruce is working in the same field as the father he does not remember.
Bruce succumbs to a scientific experiment accident. Afterwards, we see Bruce sitting in a hospital bed telling Betty that he has never felt better, which she cannot fathom due to the fact that the nanomeds have killed everything else they've touched. The radiation has intertwined with Bruce's already-altered DNA. That night, his father confronts him, revealing their relationship and hinting at the mutation in his son. Using Bruce's DNA, he begins experimentation on animals. Soon after, the building rage within him stemming from all of the stresses building up around him (his father, Betty, Talbot and the accident) activates his gamma-radiated DNA, triggering Bruce's signature transformation into the Hulk.
After the destruction at the lab, Banner is found unconscious and at home by Betty. Bruce barely remembers his transformation, a sensation similar to birth. Ross arrives, suspicious, and places him under house arrest as well as taking over Bruce and Betty's lab. That night, David phones Bruce and tells him he has unleashed three mutant dogs to Betty's house. Enraged, he attempts to leave but Talbot attacks Bruce. As he is tackled on the ground, Bruce tells Talbot that "you're making me angry", with Talbot responding "oh am I". Soon, Bruce grabs Talbot's hand and nearly breaks them as he turns green, shocking Talbot. As Bruce's strength forces Talbot onto the couch, Bruce immediately transforms again, shocking Talbot. Bruce throws Talbot out of the house and his henchmen opens fire, furthering angering Bruce and causing him to increase his size. He then throws Talbot at his henchmen, knocking them out and injuring Talbot's neck. Betty then encounters Bruce, but this time, as Bruce is in Hulk form, he does not release his rage but is calm. He places her in her car when the mutant dogs come to them and Hulk then manages to kill the dog, though seriously injured. The next morning, Bruce is tranquilized and taken to an enormous underground base in the desert. Betty convinces her father to allow her to attempt to help Bruce control his transformations, but Ross remains extremely skeptical, believing Bruce is "damned" to follow in his father's footsteps. In the meantime, David Banner breaks into the lab and subjects himself to the nanomeds and the gamma sphere, gaining the ability to meld with and absorb the properties of anything he can touch.
Talbot, seeing an opportunity to profit from the Hulk's strength and regenerative capability, intends to weaponize the Hulk's powers. Talbot subdues Bruce and puts him in a sensory deprivation tank to trigger a transformation. Bruce awakens from a induces a nightmare that triggers his repressed memories, and then transforming into the
Hulk. While attempting to personally extract a sample from the Hulk, Talbot is killed by a grenade launcher that he uses. David Banner confronts Betty and offers to turn himself in. In exchange, he asks to speak to Bruce "one last time." Bruce escapes the base in the process. He battles the army in the desert, defeating four tanks and two Comanche Helicopters, and leaps all the way to San Francisco to find Betty again. Betty contacts her father and convinces him to take her to meet the Hulk, believing that he needs "a chance to calm down." Bruce's love for her comes through, and he transforms back into his human state. David is allowed to visit the base and talk to Bruce. David, having descended into megalomania, fails to convince Bruce to help destroy the military. David transforms into a powerful electrical being after biting into a wire and absorbing the energy. This leads into a long fight between Bruce (in Hulk form) and David. Both are presumed dead after Ross orders a Gamma Charge Bomb, leaving no trace of either man. A year later there have still been numerous sightings of the Hulk. Bruce finds exile in the Amazon rain forest as a doctor in a medical camp.
Cast and characters
- Bruce is a brilliant, but withdrawn Berkley-educated scientist, rarely expressing emotion even in extreme cases. He is constantly haunted by repressed memories of his tragic upbringings through nightmares. Due to a scientific-related accident in which he intakes gamma radiation and activated nanomeds, Bruce transforms into the Hulk when rage and stress build in his mind.
- Jennifer Connelly as Betty Ross (Rhiannon Leigh Wryn as Betty as a child), Bruce's girlfriend/co-researcher, as well as the estranged daughter of General Ross:
- Betty is possibly the only way for the Hulk to lead back into his transformation of Bruce. Connelly was attracted to the role by way of director Ang Lee. "He's not talking about a guy running around in green tights and a glossy fun-filled movie for kids. He's talking along the lines of tragedy and psychodrama. I find it interesting, the green monster of rage and greed, jealousy and fear in all of us."
- Sam Elliott as General Thunderbolt Ross, a four-star general and estranged father of Betty:
- Ross was responsible for prohibiting David Banner from his lab work after learning of his dangerous experiments.
- Nick Nolte as David Banner, the mentally unstable biological father of Bruce Banner:
- He was also a genetics research scientist and had been locked away for 30 years for causing an explosion in the gamma reactor and accidentally killing his wife Edith. He had experimented on himself to create a formula for improving Human DNA. However, his genes are mutated in the process and were passed on to Bruce. Before he can work on a cure for Bruce, General Ross, who found out about his years of self-experimentation, cited that it was "dangerous and stupid", has David shut down.
- Josh Lucas as Major Glenn Talbot, a ruthless former soldier, who offers Banner and Betty Ross an opportunity to work for him in an attempt to start an experiment on self-healing soldiers.
- Cara Buono as Edith Banner, Bruce's biological mother of whom he cannot remember, heard and barely appears in most of Bruce's nightmares.
- Celia Weston as Mrs. Krensler, Bruce's adoptive mother, who cared for him after the death of Edith and David's incarceration.
In December 1992 Marvel Studios was in discussions with Universal Studios for a Hulk film adaptation. Michael France and Stan Lee were invited into Universal's offices in 1994, with France writing the script. Universal's concept was to have the Hulk battle terrorists, an idea France disliked. By late 1996, Gale Anne Hurd and husband Jonathan Hensleigh signed on as producers. Industrial Light & Magic was hired to use computer-generated imagery to create the Hulk. For the second time, France was invited to write the script. By April 1997 Joe Johnston was directing with the film's title as The Incredible Hulk. Universal wanted Hensleigh to write the script since he worked with Johnston on the financially successful Jumanji. France was fired before he wrote a single page, but received money from Universal. However, France still wanted to write the script.
Johnston dropped out of directing in July 1997 in favor of October Sky, paving the way for Hensleigh to have his directing debut. John Turman was brought on to write two more drafts, the second of which was rewritten by Zak Penn. Turman's script featured the Leader and Rick Jones, as well as the canonical atomic explosion origin from the comics. Penn's script featured a fight scene with the Hulk and a school of sharks. Hensleigh himself started from scratch, coming up with a brand new storyline. In August 1997 Hensleigh completed his script, featuring Bruce Banner, who prior to the accident which will turn him into The Hulk, performs experiments with three gamma-irradiated insect DNA on convicts. This transforms the convicts into "insect men" that cause havoc.
Filming was set to start in December 1997 in Arizona for a mid-1999 release date, but was pushed back to April 1998. Hensleigh subsequently rewrote the script with J.J. Abrams. Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski were also brought on board to rewrite with Hensleigh still attached as director. In October 1997, Hulk had entered pre-production with the creation of prosthetic makeup and computer animation already underway. Gregory Sporleder was cast as "Novak", Banner's archenemy. Lynn "Red" Williams was cast as a convict who transforms into a combination of human, ant, and beetle. In March 1998 Universal put Hulk on hiatus due to its escalating $100 million budget and worries of Hensleigh directing his first film. $20 million was already spent on script development, computer animation, and prosthetics work. Hensleigh immediately went to rewrite the script in order to lower the budget.
Hensleigh found the rewriting process to be too difficult and dropped out. It took eight months for France to convince Universal and the producers to let him try to write a script for a third time. France claimed "Someone within the Universal hierarchy wasn't sure if this was a science-fiction adventure or a comedy, and I kept getting directions to write both. I think that at some point when I wasn't in the room, there may have been discussions about turning it into a Jim Carrey or Adam Sandler movie." France was writing the script on a fast track from July—September 1999. Filming for The Incredible Hulk was to start in April 2000.
France stated his vision of the film was different from the other drafts, which based Bruce Banner on his "amiable, nerdy genius" incarnation in the 1960s. France cited inspiration from the 1980s Hulk stories which introduced Brian Banner, Bruce's abusive father who killed his mother. His script had Banner trying to create cells with regenerative capabilities in order to prove to himself that he is not like his father. However, he has anger management issues before the Hulk is even created, which makes everything worse. The "Don't make me angry..." line from the TV series was made into dialogue that Banner's father would say before beating his son. Elements such as the "Gammasphere", Banner's tragic romance with Ross, and the black ops made it to the final film. France turned in his final drafts in late 2000 and January 2001, to positive response from the producers.
Michael Tolkin and David Hayter rewrote the script afterwards. Hayter's draft featured The Leader, Zzzax and the Absorbing Man as the villains, who are depicted as colleagues of Banner and get caught in the same accident that creates the Hulk. Director Ang Lee and his producing partner James Schamus became involved with the film in January 2001. Schamus rewrote the script, merging Banner's father with the Absorbing Man to create a physical antagonist.
Bana was cast in October 2001. The role was heavily pursued by other actors. Schamus was still rewriting the script in October 2001. In early 2002, as filming was underway, Michael France read all the scripts for the Writers Guild of America, to determine who would get final credit. France criticized Schamus and Hayter for claiming they were aiming to make Banner a deeper character, and was saddened they had denigrated his work in interviews. He, Turman and Schamus received final credit. Lee claimed he cited influences from King Kong, Frankenstein, Jekyll and Hyde, Beauty and the Beast, Faust and Greek mythology for his interpretation of the story. Schamus said he had found Peter David's storyline that introduced Brian Banner, thus allowing Lee to write a drama that again explored father-son themes. A theatrical release date for June 20, 2003 was announced in December 2002, with the film's title as The Hulk.
Filming began on March 18, 2002 in Arizona. Several weeks later, it moved to the San Francisco Bay Area, shooting at Lawrence Berkeley labs, the Treasure Island military base and the sequoia forests of Porterville, before several weeks in the Utah and Californian deserts. Filming then moved to the Universal backlot in Los Angeles, using Stage 12 for the water tank scene, before finishing in
August. Eric Bana commented that the shoot was, "Ridiculously serious... a silent set, morbid in a lot of ways." Lee told him that he was shooting a Greek tragedy: he would be making a "whole other movie" about the Hulk at Industrial Light and Magic. Lee took many takes of each scene, and one example of his art house approach to the film was taking Bana to watch a bare-knuckle boxing match.
Hulk was released on June 20, 2003, earning $62.1 million in its opening weekend, which made it the 16th highest ever opener at the time. However, poor word of mouth spread, and it never recovered. With a second weekend drop of 70%, it was the first opener above $20 million to drop over 65%. The film went on to gross $132.2 in North America, and $113.2 in foreign countries, coming to a worldwide total of $245.4 million. Hulk failed to recoup its $137 million budget since it did not make more than $274 million. With a final North American gross of $132.2 million it became the largest opener to fail to earn $150 million.
Hulk received mixed (but mostly positive) reviews. Rotten Tomatoes calculated 61% of critics gave positive reviews, although only 53% of reviews from selected notable reviewers were positive. By comparison Metacritic collected an average score of 54 based on 41 reviews. Roger Ebert gave a largely positive review, explaining, "Ang Lee is trying to actually deal with the issues in the story of the Hulk, instead of simply cutting to brainless visual eff
ects." Ebert also liked how the Hulk's movements resembled King Kong. Although Peter Travers of Rolling Stone felt Hulk should have been shorter, he heavily praised the action sequences, especially the climax and cliffhanger. Paul Clinton of CNN believed the cast gave strong performances, but in an otherwise positive review, heavily criticized the computer-generated imagery, calling the Hulk "a ticked-off version of Shrek".
Mick LaSalle of the San Francisco Chronicle considered "the film is more thoughtful and pleasing to the eye than any blockbuster in recent memory, but its epic length comes without an epic reward." Ty Burr of The Boston Globe felt, "Jennifer Connelly reprises her stand-by-your-messed-up-scientist turn from A Beautiful Mind." Lisa Schwarzbaum of Entertainment Weekly stated, "a big-budget comic-book adaptation has rarely felt so humorless and intellectually defensive about its own pulpy roots." Connelly and Danny Elfman received nominations at the 30th Saturn Awards with Best Actress and Best Music. The film was nominated for Best Science Fiction Film but lost out to X2. Dennis Muren, Michael Lantieri and the special effects crew were nominated for Best Special Effects.
Marvel Studios reacquired the film rights to the character, and a sequel to the film was put into development. The film was set to feature the Abomination. Eventually, the sequel was scrapped, and a reboot was made in 2008, as The Incredible Hulk.
Hulk Movie Official Magazine
Hulk: The Official Movie Adaptation
- author = David Hughes|title = Comic Book Movies|publisher = Virgin Books|year = 2003|location = London|pages = 261–269|isbn = 0-7535-0767-6