Hulk Movie Producers Give Some Scoops

Producer Avi Arad, responsible for teh plethora of superh
by Rob Worley, Staff Writer, CBR
Posted: June 5, 2003

Q: The idea of Ang Lee directing the hulk. What was your first reaction?

Avi Arad (AA): Wow!

That was my first...well, when Gale and I had this very short list of directors, we knew that to do the Hulk, we couldn't use a shooter. It needed to be a character-based director.

At the very, very top [of the list] was Ang, especially after "Crouching Tiger" because "Crouching Tiger" showed us, more than "The Ice Storm," showed us that he can do a great character piece and outlandish, out of this world action. The action in "Crouching Tiger" didn't make any sense: walking on twigs. Flying on water and all this biblical stuff. We knew that this movie would have to be a really complicated mix of high drama and out of this world action.

Ang, as you know, was not a reader of the comics. His kids were. He had to get inside it, because the world offered him every movie, obviously after "Crouching Tiger," and he had to get his arms around the base story about who is Bruce Banner and how do you qualify to eventually erupt and have the patience to deal with the drama of our character. And answer this old age question, controlling your anger.

You send your kids to pre-school so they socialize and they learn to control their anger. And you go to the shrink to control your own, and so on, and so forth.

So that's a really, really interesting metaphor for our world. We needed a genius to come in and embrace that, and really get into it and understand the kind of people he had to bring with him.

James is his partner, collaborator. James is almost too intelligent for his own good. In this case it was very, very important to bring the movie to now, because it's a forty-year-old property. We had to bring the science up to date. What was science fiction forty years ago, today is starting to really get grounded in interesting science.

For that you need a team that is really intelligent and committed and wants to tell a difficult story. Above all you need to find a director who just stood up to the challenge of directing CGI. Until now we saw CGI as augmenting the figure or morphing someone. This had to come to life. We had to get close-ups because the story of Bruce and the Hulk starts [with the eyes].

Q: James received sole story credit. What was it about the story that James and Ang pitched? There must have been other scripts out there?

AA: Well, it's a controversial question so let me count to ten...

It's all source material. I think it's an issue that will continue with the writer's guild. Source material is sort of an adaptation. As you know after forty years we have a lot of stories.

Actually, unless you are sort of a Marvel geek, you may not even know that we have a great issue in which we show baby Hulk, baby Banner with a green halo around him.

After a lot of soul searching, the differences that James and Ang and us chose a different story than just Rick Jones on a motor-cycle and Hulk cut his finger and becomes the Hulk; just the simplicity of adrenaline. You cannot make movies like that. Not for our tastes.

We wanted to bring the audience up, not to go down. Even the television show had great drama. That's why it was so successful. Prime time, a guy that turns green: that's not easy to do. So the show paid homage to our brains and the movie had to even supercede that.

I don't understand the whole credit business. All that I know is that James and Ang came in with a fresh approach where to start our story. What is the most interesting element, even though if it was one or two issues, as a jump-start to form a story, maybe slightly different, but enough to understand and to create this incredible drama.

Q: In the books the father kills his mother, right?

AA: Yes, absolutely.

Q: And the father does this to him as baby, right?

AA: But there is, is he a scientist, was he put away? There are things we added here...

Gale Anne Hurd (GH): There's a whole Greek tragedy element to this that I think is really important. There is inherent in the books stuff that obviously we were able to expand upon. But this really is Greek tragedy.

Things are put into motion long before our character reaches adulthood that are going to all collide. I think that's what makes it psychologically really interesting. It makes the drama compelling. This is an origin story so it's really about how does Bruce Banner become the Hulk and why.

Q: The early Hulk created by ILM wasn't good enough for the film. Can you talk about how the early models fell short? Did it not have good enough hair?

GH: We didn't is the last thing that you put on.

Q: What did he look like in the beginning that you had to change?

GH: There was nothing wrong with it actually. It was simply a fact of: it takes a lot of time. There are 125 digital artists who worked on every shot of the Hulk. Early on you just get an idea, you get a movement idea...

AA: ...the last thing that you finish is the...

GH: the emotion. Are the eyes.

AA: The marketing starts a year in advance, so it's a nightmare. How much do you show?

GH: You don't the refined vision of the Hulk until the very last moment.

AA: Also it's out of context. You just see something standing there.

I'll give you another example. I believe that the reason for our success is that we take the medium as it is. When you make a movie, make things that will work right for a movie.

I'll never forget when I got e-mails, life-threats that Hugh Jackman is six-foot three and Wolverine is five-five.

So you have to look at it [like] this is a movie and you have to make it the best movie you can. There is nothing in the movie that is not based on Kirby. Nothing. Zero. The Hulk concept. The Hulk. People are remembering Lou Ferrigno. They forgot about the books. We went right to the beginning to create this creature from the books.

Q: But what's more important: the legend or the reality? If people think that Lou Ferrigno in the TV series is the bible for the Hulk aren't you then going into...

GH: Absolutely not. Absolutely not. I think the most important thing is to make a good movie. At the end of the day, it is absolutely critical to not second-guess yourself. Once you bring on board someone like Ang Lee and you bring on board James Schamus and they respond to the story. They respond to the drama inherent in the character, the last thing you want to do is second-guess every move along the way.

If you look at movies you don't like, you'll probably find that those are people who are second-guessing what the aud
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