The Lost "Hulk" - David Hayter's Draft

The Hulk that smashed its way into theaters this summer, Ang Lee's vision of the classic superhero, was not the only version of the comic book adaptation...
Based on previous drafts by John Turman, Michael France and Michael Tolkin

Update / Correction: Since we first posted this article, Screenwriter's Voice has received further details on the draft of the script David Hayter wrote. Although it reads like a much earlier draft, given the near complete rewrite that became the shooting script, Hayter's draft was not an entirely original draft. Screenwriter Michael France wrote a version of Hulk, as did John Turman and Michael Tolkin (who also receives no credit), before Hayter was even hired. He was then brought in by the producers to combine both France and Tolkin's drafts (the two most recent) into one, and add his own spin. Therefor the draft outlined in this article contains work by all four screenwriters, and is largely an a rewrite that combines the drafts by Michael France and Michael Tolkin. James Schamus was the last to be brought in, and his rewrite is the script that Ang Lee used. So clearly a lot of work by even by the two other credited writers on this film (Michael France and John Turman) was lost.

The Hulk that smashed its way into theaters this summer, Ang Lee's vision of the classic superhero, was not the only version of the comic book adaptation. After screenwriters Michael France, John Turman and Michael Tolkin each had delivered a draft, but before writer and frequent Ang Lee collaborator James Schamus completely changed the script into a shooting draft that met with Lee's tastes, David Hayter (X-Men, X2) wrote his version of The Incredible Hulk. Hayter doesn't get credit in any way shape or form on the theatrical release, nor does Michael Tolkin, but Schamus and France do for their efforts. However, the final film doesn't really resemble in any way, shape or form the draft Hayter wrote, based on the earlier work. There are a few - very few - lingering similarities, but most of that is attributed to the fact that the source material is the same. So of course the characters and themes are going to be similar. But this draft of The Incredible Hulk was a far different story, even though it still examined the origins of Bruce Banner's transformation.

In this story, Bruce Banner is working at the lab in Berkeley on the Human Genome Project. His lab partners include: Samuel Sterns, the team leader; Jennifer Sussman, Hematologist and Sterns' girlfriend; Robert Creel, a computer maintenance guy; and of course, Betty Ross, a fellow researcher, the object of Banner's affection, and daughter of one of the U.S. Army's top Generals. At the lab they're working with a one-of-a-kind Gammasphere, and largely thanks to Bruce they've just made a significant breakthrough in the project. Funded by the U.S. Military, they play host to a demonstration attended by Major Talbot, General Ross' right-hand man. They manage to successfully reconstruct damaged cells and heal a damaged frog, the demonstration a complete success, except for a distinctive green coloring to the regenerated tissue, something they're working to fix. All is going well, except perhaps Bruce's love life. The guy is rather oblivious to the fact that Betty shares his affection, and even her not-so-subtle hints go right over his head. Bruce sleeps alone. To make matters worse, the entire team is oblivious to the fact that Creel, the computer technician, has been meeting with wealthy members of the private sector who are very interested in the research that Sterns' team has been doing. His greed overwhelming his common-sense, Creel sneaks into the computers to copy all the data the team has collected, but something goes wrong, and his timing is nothing but bad. He sets in motion a chain of events that start the Gammasphere working, just when the rest of the team is working. They can't shut it down, and three of the researchers are inside the device. Realizing what's happening, Bruce rushes to save them, rescuing Betty but getting himself trapped inside with Sussman and Sterns when the Gamma Rays fire. But Bruce and the others survive the extraordinary experience, unharmed, but not unchanged.

The changes manifest themselves in different ways for the three survivors. Bruce seems fine, although his confidence is up and he finally works up the courage to express his interest in Betty. Sussman and Sterns, meanwhile, do the nasty and it gets? nastier. Sussman seems to have developed the ability to see the very structure of things, Sterns experiencing some sort of electrical connection with computers. As they? celebrate life, Sussman takes a turn for the worse. She spontaneously experiences the effects of exposure to radiation, leaving her mutilated and burned. When Bruce and Betty arrive, Banner's own changes begin to manifest themselves, as his anger toward the man responsible, Creel, takes over. He leaves in a fit of rage, and when we next see him, he's pounding on Creel's door, mostly to the annoyance of Creel and his frat roommate. But when the whole house begins to shake, things get serious. The roommate answers the door to something big and green. We don't see much of what happens, but the next day the house is trashed, and a trail of destruction in the city has the media and the police very curious. Bruce banner wakes up on a flattened bed, his door off the hinges, his clothes torn to shreds. It doesn't take long before he, Betty and Sterns are at the police station answering all sorts of questions, but it also isn't long before Betty makes a phone call, and her daddy, the General, is marching into the station and barking orders at the cops. Betty and Sterns have perfect alibis, but poor Bruce is rightly suspected of causing all the damage at the Creel residence the night before. The interrogation is tough, General Ross and Major Talbot watch the whole thing, including when Bruce Banner starts to get angry. The Hulk comes out, right there in the interrogation room, and smashes his way through the station and out into the streets. It's no secret who the hulk is, everyone who matters saw the transformation, and Betty and Sterns recognize Bruce's cloths (and a wallet he was given as a gift in the beginning).

Now everyone is searching for the big green Hulk that surely must be a threat to the city of San Francisco, including the military. But Betty is the only one who knows Bruce well enough to know where to look for him, and she tracks him down to his cabin in Coffee Creek. There he's become a man again, a man terrified at what he's become, and may not be able to control; a man contemplating ending it all. Sterns, meanwhile, has tracked down Creel to Empyreal Biotechnologies, the private sector corporation he's selling the team's research to. They've created their own Gammasphere, and St
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