The Hulk was one of my favorite superheros growing up, and I loved the TV series with Bill Bixby and Lou Ferrigno.
Like all the top superheros, the Hulk was brought to the big screen, twice within a decade, and both attempts really missed the mark.
Now the Hulk will be back for The Avengers, and when the advance poster showing Mark Ruffalo as the Hulk was unveiled at Comic-Con, my friend Pat Jankiewicz told me, "That truly looks kickass, not to sound like a 13-year- old!"
Jankiewicz knows the Hulk well. In fact, he just published his Hulk companion, "You Wouldn’t Like Me When I’m Angry," and I wanted to get his opinions about why the first big screen Hulks didn’t fly, and if he’s finally got a shot with The Avengers, written/directed by Joss Whedon, and hitting theaters on May 4, 2012.
Pat definitely has high hopes for The Avengers, and being a native of Michigan is looking forward to seeing the superheros getting together in Detroit.
"Knowing Joss Wheedon is a classic Marvel fan and is shooting in The Motor City fills me with hope," he says. "In Stan Lee's first issue of Avengers, the team is not a team, but a bunch of solo heroes who join forces to stop a rampaging Hulk. They finally do on a Detroit assembly line, where they decide to permanently team up. I think Joss Wheedon is gonna do a pretty cool take on Avengers #1." (The tagline for the movie is, "some assembly required.")
As for why he feels the Hulk didn’t fly in either the 2003 or 2008 movie, Jankiewicz explains, "Unlike Spidey, Captain America, or Iron Man, Hulk is a much darker character and audiences will accept that on TV, but getting to pay for it is always harder to do. With a hero on the run, whose central superpower is triggered only when he loses control, many summer movie audiences can't warm up to him. By losing control, he cedes all his humanity to his monstrous id. Because of this, he cannot maintain any relationships and remains essentially alone."
Jankiewicz adds, "I liked parts of Ang Lee's Hulk and despised others, while I thought (director) Louis Leterrier’s take was a bit more accessible, as I cover in the book. Both Hulks essentially did the same amount at the worldwide box office. Ang Lee's take was too much of a downer, with frequent flashbacks to the murder of Bruce Banner's mother, it sucked the fun out of it. The last five minutes, with a confusing, inconclusive battle between The Hulk and his father, led to the film having the biggest second week drop in summer blockbuster history. Louis L's film had a great central performance by Edward Norton, but when he would Hulk Out, you would lose all connection to him as a blank-eyed CG construct."
Pat just came back from the D23 festival, and after seeing footage from The Avengers he reports, "I liked their take on Banner and The Hulk. The audience really responded to the way The Avengers treat The Hulk like an atomic bomb, which comes from Mark Millar's Ultimates series for Marvel Comics. Mark Ruffalo's Banner seems likable and when Loki says, ‘I have an army’ and Robert Downey's Tony Stark responds, ‘We have a Hulk!,’ the audience applauded."
So here’s to hoping there will be more applause, along with a big box office hit next May.