The Road To AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR – Part II: Louis Leterrier’s THE INCREDIBLE HULK

The Road To AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR – Part II: Louis Leterrier’s THE INCREDIBLE HULK

The Road To AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR – Part II: Louis Leterrier’s THE INCREDIBLE HULK

Our countdown to Infinity War continues with the Green Giant’s second journey on the big screen and a movie that Marvel Studios have been trying to erase from reality for a long time - The Incredible Hulk.

Last week, we investigated Iron Man’s road to the silver screen. At the same time, one of Marvel’s biggest properties fought for survival, as the financial failure of Ang Lee’s Hulk almost killed the brand. But long before The Incredible Hulk successfully put the series in a coma, there was a different idea. Let’s take a look at another Hulk’s failure, one that didn’t even manage to hit the theaters - Hulk 2.

YOU DON’T DESERVE THAT POWER 

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Marvel Enterprises Inc. had high hopes for Ang Lee’s Hulk. According to former Marvel President and Chief Executive Allen Lipson, after the renegotiation of the "not very good" deal with Universal Pictures, Marvel was expecting a revenue between $215 - $220 million in 2003. That would be a decline from $299.1 million from 2002, but the studio knew that Hulk was no Spider-Man when it comes to popularity. Still, the company was expecting a lot from the Green Giant’s debut.

The Hulk, a movie that was supposed to win the battle of summer’s top movies, opened with $62 million. That was the only good news as in the next weekend the movie lost 70 percent of its audience, which still is one of the biggest drops in the history of blockbusters. The movie ended its box office run with $245 million worldwide, almost $600 million less than Raimi’s Spider-Man. Vivendi's Universal spent $137 million to make one of the most expensive movies at the time. Instead of seeing a lot of green, Universal and Marvel had to face an "underwhelming" result.

Right after the release of The Hulk, Marvel was in pretty heated talks about the sequel. Apparently, at one stage there was a talk about a series of games, a new animated series, a new TV drama series, but all the ideas got canned once the film flopped. Universal had the right of first refusal on the sequel and Marvel wanted to make a smaller movie in scale, something with a $80 million budget and less expensive cast. If Universal had refused the offer, Marvel would've called Columbia Pictures.

Half a year after the release of Lee’s Hulk, Marvel Studios Vice President Kevin Feige said “It [Hulk 2] is set up at Universal again. We talk to Universal almost on a daily basis about 'Hulk 2'. Hulk is a great franchise with a lot of life left in it." Feige also was an executive producer on the first Hulk, which was one of his first credited job after Singer’s X-Men and Raimi’s Spider-Man. In an interview with Comic Continuum, the producer confirmed that the continuation of Hulk’s story would “explore other elements of his character from the comics that people love and remember. We want to continue to take it very seriously and continue to follow his inner psyche, but at the same time allow us in the audience to have a little more fun, a little more action, a little more of the 'Hulk smash.'"

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The movie's producer Avi Arad described the sequel as “Hulk-lite”; “It'll be the end of movie one, the beginning of movie two. Now he's come to terms with his life and who he is and we can let him be now Hulk the hero. Movie one seemed to have been tough on some people, but some of us think it is one of the more courageous depictions of a comic book character."

Eric Bana (Bruce Banner from Lee’s Hulk) was apparently “seriously considering” playing the character again and Jennifer Connelly was contracted to return in the sequel as Betty Ross. 

Two years after The Hulk debut, Arad ensured the fans that Hulk 2 is still in progress and Universal is working with Marvel to add a few intriguing changes that would be made from the first installment: “The Hulk will be smaller. If you make him 15-feet tall, there's no human connection there... Right now we are still developing the sequel. I think the key thing is to come up with the right story”. The producer also promised “less angst and a lot more Hulk smashing”. Banner would be more comfortable with his darker, greener side.

Former Marvel Vice Chairman Peter Cuneo disagreed with a popular opinion that Lee’s Hulk was a huge box office disappointment for everyone involved: "The Hulk did $250 million worldwide box, which is a huge box, and as you may recall, we had tremendous success with our toy line, which was a complete sellout, over $100 million worldwide. Our licensing was also very, very strong, and we had a complete sell-through of all of the consumer products associated with Hulk. So from our point of view, while some people may have been predicting higher box office, we were very thrilled with Hulk, and Hulk 2 is currently being worked on”.

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IESB caught up Eric Bana at the Celebrity Poker Charity Tournament and asked The Hulk star about the plans for the next chapter. "I can't see a sequel happening anytime soon,” Bana answered and said that Avi Arad is always optimistic, but “I don't see it [Hulk 2] moving forward for a while, I am obligated for at least one more but I really don't see that happening anytime soon."

SuperHeroHype had a chance to interview Bana in Las Vegas and the actor changed his mind and said that Universal and Marvel are planning to start shooting the movie “next year”, in 2006. Bana was supposed to come back in the lead role, but Connelly decided to leave the project, forcing the producers to start searching for a new Betty Ross. Instead of starting the pre-production on Hulk 2, news broke that the sequel has been scrapped. Bana confirmed the rumors and told Newsday that “Nobody’s talking about any sequel”. 

On February 2006, Mort Handel, former Marvel's chairman announced that Marvel Studios has taken back the rights to the Hulk from Universal Pictures. Marvel Studios exec Avi Arad added that Universal would still distribute a Hulk sequel but it would be totally a Marvel movie. According to Arad, the studio was "very aggressive in development on Hulk [2]. 
 

A REAL FIGHT



Immediately after the Marvel Studios takeover, many websites have run with news that Eric Bana would not return to the lead role. The actor denied the reports and asked to not count him out of the “reboot-prequel-sequel” (or shortly, “requel”).

Hulk 2 finally found the director on July 20, 2006 when Louis Leterrier has signed on to helm the picture. Before The Incredible Hulk, he directed the first two Transporter movies and Unleashed. Producers Feige and Arad first met with Leterrier in 2004 and were struck by his passion for the Marvel universe. The French-born director wanted to direct Iron Man, but when this project was given to Jon Favreau, he went back to his studio and storyboarded two action sequences and developed his take on the titular monster to get the job.

Zak Penn (Elektra, X-Men: The Last Stand) joined the picture to write the screenplay. In contrast to Lee’s Hulk, Leterrier wanted to create an atmosphere of real, physical danger in his movie and decided that Emil Blonsky, the Abomination would be the lead villain in the untitled sequel. 

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During San Diego Comic-Con 2006, Louis Leterrier described the project as “Marvel's horror movie. It's Frankenstein meets Jekyll and Hyde with a little bit of Edward Scissorhands." His take on Banner would focus on Bruce’s hatred for the monster inside him, aiming im in the tone of the Bill Bixby/Lou Ferrigno TV show.

With the filming set to start on April 2007, Hulk 2 has evolved into The Incredible Hulk and received an estimated release date right next to Favreau's Iron Man - the second quarter of 2008.

The biggest question remained the same – who would replace Eric Bana as Bruce Banner in the upcoming movie? There were many candidates, including some really interesting ones, such as Brendan Fraser (George of the Jungle, The Mummy), Dominic Purcell (Blade: Trinity, Prison Break), Adrien Brody (The Pianist, Predators) and Sam Rockwell (Moon, Iron Man 2).

One of the most common complaints about Lee’s version of the Green Giant was the quality of the visual effects. Despite Industrial Light & Magic’s groundbreaking work, many critics compared their efforts to Shrek. Marvel didn’t want to make the same mistake again: "We're studying every method and we'll pick the best method for every shot," the director said in an interview with Superhero Hype. "It's important to make the Hulk tactile in this one. As an audience member I love to be confused and not know if it's CGI, animatronic, make-up (loved Davy Jones in Pirates... all CG!!!)."

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Leterrier was an experienced director when it comes to shooting action scenes, but his movie budgets used to be smaller than $23 million. The director called TIH’s budget “very big in Hollywood standards”, so it became clear that the dream of keeping the budget under $80 million was gone. 

The director studied the first Hulk very closely to understand its flaws, but he didn’t want to copy someone else’s work: "I like the first film," Leterrier said. "I just think I'm a maggot compared to [first film original director] Ang Lee. I'm not going to try to copy him, it would be an enormous failure. I'm going to do my version of a Hulk film. There's a lot of me in Unleashed. If you liked this film, you'll like our Hulk." According to the picture’s director, Zak Penn’s script was just amazing and one of the best, if not the best script he ever read.

Arguably the biggest Marvel’s mistake during the production of  Hulk was announced on November 6, 2006. The Incredible Hulk finally received a specific release date – June 27, 2008, a month after Iron Man and a month before The Dark Knight. Marvel and Universal couldn’t know that Nolan’s film would be released on July 18, 2008, as Warner Bros. revealed the movie’s date a half of the year later, but the decision to not move TIH’s release date is one of the main reasons why the Hulk’s solo story wasn’t continued after The Incredible Hulk

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Marvel Studios started 2007 with an announcement that TIH would be filmed in Toronto, starting in the summer. "This timely decision reinforces Toronto's status as the national center of excellence and will serve as a strong kick-off to our 2007 production year," said Mayor David Miller. The rumor says that one of the reasons why the production moved to Toronto was the fact that Mayor Miller was a big fan of the Green Giant and he let the filmmakers to do whatever they wanted, including destroying an old factory and closing streets.

This time, the producers decided to say thank you to Industrial Light & Magic and Marvel hired Rhythm & Hues as the lead visual effect house to bring the Green Giant to life via the VFX.

One of the biggest questions about the movie was answered in April as the studios have found their new Bruce Banner – Edward Norton (Fight Club, The People vs. Larry Flynt). After the unexpected success of The Illusionist, Marvel decided to hire the actor to play Banner and the Hulk. "Edward Norton is a rare talent and one of the most versatile actors in the business," Marvel Studios production president Kevin Feige said in a statement. "His ability to transform into a particular role makes him the ideal choice to take on the character of Bruce Banner and the Hulk. Edward is perfectly suited to bring one of the most popular and important Marvel icons to the big screen in a new and exciting way." We will come back to this casting decision later on.

Liv Tyler (Armageddon, The Lord of The Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring) joined the picture as Betty Ross on June 5. Tim Roth (Reservoir Dogs, Pulp Ficiton) signed on to play Emil Blonsky, the Abomination a day later and William Hurt (Artificial Intelligence: AI, The Village) took place of Sam Elliot as General Thaddeus "Thunderbolt" Ross shortly after.

IRON MANThe first poster was shown to the public in June and it teased a drastically changed, darker direction for the Hulk.

Before the beginning of the shoot, actress Christina Cabot (Fight Club, Hostage) joined the picture as an aide of General Ross and Tim Blake Nelson (Minority Report, Kill the Messenger) signed on to play Samuel Sterns, known better as the villainous Leader.

In an interview with Rotten Tomato, Tim Roth said that he’s playing Blonksy/Abomination for his children "We've done some very cool things. I think it's going to be fun. I'm in my own world with this one so there's a lot of it I don't see what's going on. All I know is, as far as I'm concerned, this is some fun stuff going on. I'm still filming it. This is one for my boys. Pure, on set, all I'm asking is, 'Okay, this has got to be a cool shot for my kids, all right? Am I going to look cool in this shot?' It's truly about that for me, completely about that." 

Jon Favreau, who was directing Iron Man at the time, confirmed that the audience would see the first Marvel movie crossover in The Incredible Hulk, in a scene where General Ross is meeting with Tony Stark. William Hurt described it as “a funky scene”.

To make the situation a bit clearer, Norton dismissed any links between Ang Lee’s Hulk and The Incredible Hulk. “I think like Chris Nolan and those guys did with Batman, we just said: 'We’re going to start completely with our own version of this myth or saga,” Norton said The Sun. The actor also teased The Incredible Hulk 2: “We left a lot out on purpose. It’s definitely intended as chapter one.

HULK

Ex-Hulk Eric Bana was pretty excited about Norton’s take on Banner “I’m a big fan of Ed’s. I was really thrilled that someone of Ed’s caliber stepped up to play [Hulk] in the sequel,” he said. “It’s great. I’m sure his version will be incredible.”. The actor also ensured that he held no grudges against Norton.

Composer Craig Armstrong has been tapped to challenge Danny Elfman’ and create the soundtrack for the requel.  That was one of last good news for the Hulk crew.

The production’s problems started to leak to the public from March 2008. Deadline broke news that Edward Norton battled Marvel over The Incredible Hulk’s final cut. Norton came to the project under the stipulation that he could re-write Penn’s script and have major input on the final cut of the film. An insider revealed that "There's a lot of posturing going on between Edward's camp and Marvel over how you edit the final version." 

Apparently Norton has been in meeting with Marvel Studios chairman David Maisel, Marvel Studios president of production Kevin Feige, and director Louis Leterrier to solve the argument and try to reach a resolution to the $150+ million film feud.

Another source stated that, "There is a very healthy exchange of ideas going on. Discussions now are even more heated. But some of Ed's best movies have had this exact dynamic to them. Everyone's in the process of figuring it out and working it out. But I expect it'll all get resolved pretty quickly."

Norton immediately denied the rumors and told Entertainment Weekly that the reports have been overblown. Here’s Norton’s official statement approved by Universal and Marvel Studios:
 
“Like so many people I've loved the story of The Hulk since I was a kid, so it was thrilling when Marvel asked me to write and help produce an altogether new screen incarnation, as well as play Bruce Banner. I grew up reading Marvel Comics and always loved the mythic dimension and contemporary themes in the stories, and I’m proud of the script I wrote. In every phase of production, including the editing, working with Louis Leterrier has been wonderful... I've never had a better partner, and the collaboration with all the rest of the creative team has been terrific. Every good movie gets forged through collaboration, and different ideas among people who are all committed and respect the validity of each other's opinions is the heart of filmmaking. Regrettably, our healthy process, which is and should be a private matter, was misrepresented publicly as a 'dispute,' seized on by people looking for a good story, and has been distorted to such a degree that it risks distracting from the film itself, which Marvel, Universal and I refuse to let happen. It has always been my firm conviction that films should speak for themselves and that knowing too much about how they are made diminishes the magic of watching them. All of us believe The Incredible Hulk will excite old fans and create new ones and be a huge hit...our focus has always been to deliver the Hulk that people have been waiting for and keep the worldwide love affair with the big green guy going strong”.

To cover the rumors about the behind the scenes drama, Gale Anne Hurd and Kevin Feige ensured the audience that nothing changed and TIH still sets up The Avengers: "It's nice to be able to let things evolve, and we set things up with this film," Hurd said in an interview at New York Comic Con. "We have Tim Blake Nelson playing Dr. Samuel Sterns, and anyone who is a fan of the comic books knows that Samuel Sterns turns into the Leader, so there is an opportunity to explore that. It's in this film, but for people who aren't aware of that, it's not confusing."

Leterrier spoiled that the next Hulk's movie villain has a large cranium, confirming The Leader's return. 

A week before the movie’s release date, IESB revealed that Norton received no credit for rewriting The Incredible Hulk. According to the website, Writers Guild of America (WGA) confirmed and determined that only Zak Penn would receive a sole credit for story and screenplay. Norton decided to make a complicated situation even worse and didn’t participate in promoting the movie, except some interviews for Moviefone.

Despite a terrible atmosphere surrounding the movie, The Incredible Hulk smashed box office with a $55 million opening. A bit less that Ang Lee’s Hulk which opened to $62 million and a big decrease for Marvel Studios from Iron Man’s $100+ opening weekend. But it was just a small beginning of the fast approaching (big) troubles…
 

DON'T MAKE HIM HUNGRY

HULK

But before we start to talk about the recasting and even more behind the scenes drama, let’s talk about the movie itself. It’s hard to review The Incredible Hulk without referring to Ang Lee’s Hulk, so let’s just get over with it – I don’t think that Lee’s take on the Green Giant was absolutely horrible, but Letterrier’s version is better in almost every way.
 
HULKLeterrier has made a very good decision to not tell Banner’s origin story again, but to give the audience basic information about his accident and complicated relationship with the Ross family through flashbacks, dialogue and absolutely perfectly done title sequence, inspired by the TV series. It tells the story of the creation of the Hulk without “wasting” the first act on retelling it once again.

The Green Giant looked much, much better than the Hulk from 2003, when the technology clearly wasn’t ready despite Industrial Light & Magic’s efforts. Norton’s Hulk moves naturally, doesn’t change his height from scene to scene and is arguably the most ripped and "animal" Hulk in the history.

Edward Norton was a very good Doctor Banner and one of his only flaws is the fact that Mark Ruffalo is slightly better. Don’t get me wrong, his Bruce is insecure, tired and despaired, but also pretty sympathetic and… uninteresting, representing the most comic-accurate Banner in the movies. It may sound harsh, but maybe because we’ve never had a chance to see him with The Avengers, Norton doesn’t have Ruffallo’s charm, but is a way more complex character.

His romance with Liv Tyler’s Betty Ross is acceptable, but the actress excels in the scenes with her movie father, Hurt’s General Ross. They both have many reasons to hate and love each other and it’s the most fascinating relationship in the movie.

HULK

Tim Roth did a good job as Blonsky. His painful journey to become the Abomination and the beast’s design were handled way more interesting than the comics versions. Altering his color from a shade of green to light brown and making him look like one, muscled bone was a great decision and didn’t change the final showdown into “what am I looking at right now” festival.  The Abomination’s origin was executed really, really well with two super soldier serums mixed into one, angry, afraid of losing power and ageing person.

Since we’re talking about the final fight, The Incredible Hulk is the most graphic Marvel Studios’s movie. For example, Hulk breaks the Abomination’s elbow and stabs him with it. TIH was the last MCU movie before the Disney deal was signed, and it’s clear that the violence was toned down in the "post-Disney" movies. There’s also a lot of smoking, a thing we don’t see in today's Marvel movies.

The first act features some truly beautiful cinematography, especially Banner’s run in the seedy Brazilian Favelas. The editing is sharp, maybe even too sharp, considering that it’s the shortest movie in the MCU. I watched the officially released deleted scenes and except night scenes in Betty’s house with Banner and Dr. Samson, I’m glad that they were cut. In most of them the characters explain what has happened in the past or what somebody said to somebody someday, a thing that always irks me. 

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But there’s one thing the movie did the best from all Marvel Studios’ productions – the score. Craig Armstrong’s soundtrack is not only a pure joy to listen to, but it perfectly captures the hero’s journey. Unlike Elfman’s Hulk work, Armstrong’s score is consistent and feels like it belongs to the world of Hulk and Banner, with constantly repeated music cues. “That is the target” is my absolute favourite and once again, it’s a shame that with the exception of Age of Ultron and Thor: Ragnarok, Marvel didn’t bring the old themes to the new movies. The fans of Elfman must be pretty sad, considering that Armstrong didn’t include quasi-Arabian sounds that have nothing to do with the movie.

Unlike Lee’s ambitious and conflicted The Hulk, Leterrier’s created “just” a competent movie that doesn’t try to revolutionize the main characters and their story. It’s biggest flaw is the fact that Marvel Studios have tried to hide the movie for a very long time, until Captain America: Civil War which finally confirmed that the movie is part of the bigger universe, with a return of Hurt's General Ross. There are rumors that Liv Tyler’s Betty Ross will return in Avengers: Infinity War, so maybe Marvel finally realized that this movie is worth remembering. 

Leterrier's The Incredible Hulk is a unique production in comparison to the rest of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It doesn't try to be funny, doesn't include unnecessary subplots to tease what's coming next, features a lot of graphic violence and that has its appeal.
 

ANY LAST WORDS?



Pushed in between Iron Man and The Dark Knight, The Incredible Hulk finished its box office run with $263 million, a similar score to Lee’s Hulk. That wasn't what Marvel Studios have wanted, especially after the huge Iron Man success. No matter how you look at the movie’s box office result, till this day, The Incredible Hulk holds the title of the lowest grossing Marvel Studios’ movie.

I think that is the main reason why the storyline wasn't continued. Of course, after the Disney deal, the potential talks with Universal to distribute a sequel would've been harder. Neither Marvel Studios, nor Universal needed another bombing Hulk movie with a $150+ budget. In the end, The Incredible Hulk generated a small profit for both studios, thanks to merchandising and effective cost cutting. Toronto City covered some production costs, but nothing will change the fact that the box office numbers are responsible for putting the franchise in a comma.

That’s how Universal domestic distribution president Nikki Rocco commented the movie’s results:  "[...] we are very pleased with the result. But Marvel has yet to greenlight a Hulk sequel. So other observers suggest the films' most important distinction lies simply in how well market expectations were managed in advance of their respective bows”. The greenlighting never happened.

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The only important thing (except introducing new characters) TIH did to set up The Avengers – showing the military side of the MCU wasn’t used. General Ross would fit perfectly in the events of Joss Whedon’s movie, but he had to wait eight years to return in Captain America: Civil War

Four month after the movie’s release, Edward Norton said that he’s unsure about The Incredible Hulk 2 or even if he would return in The Avengers: “The minds of Marvel are sometimes opaque,” Norton told MTV News. “I won’t say [they're] obtuse, but I don’t have any idea what they want to do.”

Tim Blake Nelson, who’s The Leader was obviously teased in TIH confirmed that he signed a deal for a trilogy “I’m signed on to do ‘Hulk 2’ and ‘3’ whether Edward’s there or not, so it’s not even up to me,” he explained. “When I agreed to do ‘Hulk,’ I signed off for two sequels, so it’s a moot question. I certainly hope Edward is on the sequel — but that’s up to Marvel and Edward.” He never returned to the role and eventually joined the Fant4stic team.

Tim Roth also singed a three picture deal, but just like the Leader, the Abomination is still lost somewhere in the universe. The villain was supposed to return in AvengersAge of Ultron "They were going to do it. They did do that. They were thinking, in the Avengers two or something. There was a film we could do at that one point, but way back when. It just kinda got swept under the carpet I guess. That would be hilarious," Roth said Crave Online in 2014.

A full year after TIH’s release, Kevin Feige ensured the worried fans that the Hulk would return in the upcoming Avengers movie. Leterrier expressed his willingness to do another Hulk movie many times, but Feige never answered his requests.

In 2010, Marvel Studios President of Production Kevin Feige forwarded the following email to HitFix: 

We have made the decision to not bring Ed Norton back to portray the title role of Bruce Banner in the Avengers. Our decision is definitely not one based on monetary factors, but instead rooted in the need for an actor who embodies the creativity and collaborative spirit of our other talented cast members. The Avengers demands players who thrive working as part of an ensemble, as evidenced by Robert, Chris H, Chris E, Sam, Scarlett, and all of our talented casts. We are looking to announce a name actor who fulfills these requirements, and is passionate about the iconic role in the coming weeks.

Marvel Studios' president confirmed that Edward Norton won't be involved in the upcoming Avengers movie and many fans weren't happy about this decision. Notron used his Facebook page to clarify the situation and wrote a long response to Feige's mail and the fans questions:

As most of you know, I don't like to talk much about the business of making movies because it means a lot to me to protect the audience's fullest enjoyment of the 'magic' that films can have. But I am so appreciative of the outpouring of support from fans of the Hulk and the Avengers that I feel it would be rude not to respond. So here goes: It seems it won't work out for me to continue playing Bruce Banner for Marvel in "The Avengers." I sincerely hoped it could happen and be great for everyone but it hasn't turned out as we all hoped. I know this is disappointing to many people and that makes me sad. But I am very sincerely grateful to Marvel for extending the offer and even more so for giving me the chance to be a part of the Hulk's long and excellent history. And I really can't thank the fans enough for how much enthusiasm you've sent me way about what Louis and I tried to do in our turn with the legend. It means a lot to me. I grew up with Banner and Hulk and have been a fan of every incarnation. I'm really proud, and very blessed, to have been one of them and will be thrilled to see him live on through other actors. Hulk is bigger than all of us, that's why we love him, right?

Two weeks later, Marvel officially announced at San Diego Comic Con that Mark Ruffalo was cast as Bruce Banner in The Avengers. Norton asked about the whole situation said to MTV: "I said what I had to say about that. I didn't want to be negative about anything. I had a great time doing that. I was very happy to be part of it allPeople's response to that film was great," he added. That's everything you want. If you're going to do one of those, and be in those long traditions of those things we all grew up in, you don't want to be in one of the bad ones. So I'm really happy people had a good thing with that. The thing that was disingenuous about some of the stuff that had gone on is it was a very professional and very respectful business situation, he said. "We really couldn't work it out on a business level, and I know that's disappointing to some people but it's nobody's fault. I don't have any disrespect for anybody's decisions in the business framework. You do what you feel you need to do on both sides, and that's totally fine," Norton continued. "I have no idea why anybody tried to characterize it as anything other than that kind of a decision, which is absolutely what it was".

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Just like Eric Bana has been asked about being replaced Edward Norton, Norton has been asked about being replaced by Mark Ruffalo. And just like Bana, Norton had only kind words for the future Doctor Banner: "Mark's one of my favorite actors and a very good pal of mine," Norton told MTV News at the Toronto International Film Festival. "We've already been laughing about it."

After the failed talks to make a sequel, Marvel decided to make a small screen adaptation of the Green Giant’s adventures. Guillermo del Toro (Pan's Labirynth, The Shape of Water) signed on to helm the series, but the idea was ultimately scrapped, probably due to the budget issues and the fact that Kevin Feige doesn’t like to share the movie characters with television.

In 2011, Norton revealed that not the creative differences, but the money were the main reason why he never came back to the role "I found it a cheap and unnecessary representation that it was about things other than money,"  Norton said. "They came to me avidly to talk about it and then at the end of the day it was just flat out a business decision. I would say that blew back on them much worse than it blew back on me," he avers. "I couldn't have been happier with the experience that I had making the film, but nor do I feel any kind of intensity about doing it again. A really good friend of mine's going to do it now [Mark Ruffalo and he's awesome! Marvel's going to have to deal with their own karma – they've got bigger problems than me."

"And how could I get anxious over something like that?" he continued. "I couldn't ask for a more blessed position. The way that the work I've done has found its way into people's lives, it's everything that I got into the business to achieve so I just don't feel this relentless intensity about climbing higher anymore. I've got plenty of other things in my life to be getting on with."

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Probably the most confusing news about the awkward situation broke five years after TIH’s debut. Interviewed by Empire Onine, Louis Leterrier revealed that Mark Ruffalo was his first choice to play Bruce Banner:  "I've known Mark for quite a while. I met him on my Hulk a long time ago and it was funny - Marvel didn't go with him first time around".

What’s even more confusing is the fact that Marvel Studios hired a big, troubled unknown to play Tony Stark, but resisted casting Ruffalo and preferred “a bigger star”, Edward Norton.

Feige explained the absence of the Leader and the Abomination by saying that the studio faces “an embarrassment of riches”. He also teased that the characters may return: "Finding the right place. And as I said, if you can’t do it right, don’t do it or do it later, and the notion of “Hey, I’m here too! Next!” is not interesting to us. Abomination is in a prison somewhere too.'"

Hulk’s solo future is uncertain. Nobody knows for sure how the deal with Universal really works, his two solo movies underperformed and we had to wait eight years to see a character from the movie again on the big screen. The Incredible Hulk truly is the bastard child of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.


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