We’ve been hearing rumors of post-production battles on The Incredible Hulk for months now, so it’s a little strange that The New York Times has decided to be the bearer of additional bad buzz with little in the way of new info. Once again, we learn that Edward Norton and Marvel are at odds over the final cut of the movie, that the late-arriving teaser was heavily viewed but tepidly received, and that, despite all this, Hulk is still the fourth “most anticipated new portrayal” of the summer (finishing just behind New Eddie and the New Cruisers)!
If there’s an interesting new wrinkle in all of this, it’s that Norton is threatening to withdraw from the publicity effort if the final cut isn’t to his liking. This would be problematic, but not insurmountable provided the final theatrical trailer (scheduled to debut in front of Iron Man) delivers some substantial, edifice-shattering, Harlem, Ontario mayhem. Though the fans will turn out regardless, the rank-and-file need convincing that this isn’t a replay of Ang Lee’s Great Santini-ized Hulk, which opened to a respectable $62 million before taking a disastrous 70% tumble in its second weekend of release. They need reassurances that this Hulk is mean, not just pissed off at his pops.
Brook Burnes’s article goes very heavy on the negative: he/she quotes an entertainment analyst who opines that Marvel’s actions indicate that the film is a “bomb”, which is rather dubiously supported by a non-committal comment from Stan Lee (“My prediction is that it will be more popular than the last one”). There’s nothing conclusive in Burnes’s piece (which also sports a glaring factual error about the Hulk talking in the television show), but it is fascinating that Marvel is experiencing such persistent difficulties with one of its most salable properties. It’s not that difficult to make a mainstream Hulk film, if all you want is to make a mainstream Hulk film.
But why hire an intellectual like Norton (and team him with a director of mindless action films, Unleashed included) if that’s all you wanted in the first place?