“We’re not fighting! We’re collaborating!”
That’s the gist of the email Edward Norton fired off to Entertainment Weekly in response to the multiple stories claiming that there’s bad blood a-boiling behind the scenes on The Incredible Hulk. But don’t settle for my interpretation. Read it yourself:
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.Keep the faith, and motherfuck F. Gary Gray.E to the H to the N
Well, that settles that. Guess we’ll see you at the New York Comic Con, Edward?
Here’s my non-sarcastic question: why didn’t Edward Norton issue this statement to Brooks Barnes for inclusion in her New York Times article (rather than a “no comment” through his publicist)? That he chose not to go on the record, even tersely, makes the above email read like the dreaded vote of confidence handed down by owners and general managers right before they fire the head coach. There’s the telltale overstatement (“I’ve never had a better partner” must come as quite a slap to David Fincher, Spike Lee, Woody Allen and Milos Forman), the careful wording (Apocalypse Now is a terrific example of a “good movie” that got “forged through collaboration” by people who respected “the validity of each other’s opinions” – i.e. when they weren’t hastening heart attacks and enduring mental meltdowns), and the damning omission (Leterrier gets a shout-out, but not Marvel’s Kevin Feige).
How much do I hate myself for parsing this email? Loads. Give us a new, better trailer soon, Universal.