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Marvel’s Plans for The Hulk

The Incredible Hulk has been smashing his way through television and movies since the 1970s and now there’s more green goodness on the way, courtesy of Marvel Studios.

The Hulk teams up with the Avengers.

Mark Ruffalo owns the role of the brooding scientist/wrecking machine in “The Avengers.” So much so, he recently signed on for more movies (six of ‘em, in fact) to play the Hulk. And despite some past headaches with the franchise, Marvel is ready to (yet again) re-start the green machine.

“If Hulk’s successful turnaround continues,” Marvel’s Paul Gitter recently told Forbes magazine, then Marvel “will spin him off to a stand-alone program next year.” A new Hulk movie is slated for 2015. But before that, don’t be surprised if you see the Hulk making some cameo appearances in commercials. Marvel reportedly is interested in having Hulk represent one or more companies in a manner similar to the way that “Peanuts” character Snoopy has become the corporate icon for MetLife Insurance Company.

A new Hulk television show created by film director Guillermo Del Toro, of “Hellboy” fame has also been rumored. Some have wondered how well a Hulk TV show would perform against a new Hulk movie series starring Mark Ruffalo.

The birth of a giant: The Incredible Hulk #1. (Marvel Comics, May, 1962)

The Hulk is a creature of constant change, and he’s gone through quite a bit in the past:

“The Incredible Hulk” (1978-1982) 
The highly-rated television series starred TV icon Bill Bixby as the genetics researcher altered by his experiment. Part of CBS’ Friday night ratings juggernaut (along with “Dallas”), the program ran for 82 episodes over five seasons.

Journeyman TV actor Bixby was the producers’ first choice for the role of Bruce Banner, but much casting went into finding the right Hulk. Arnold Schwarzennegger auditioned for the role was thought to be too short. Bodybuilder Lou Ferrigno finally won the role – and three-hour makeup sessions (his green wig was made out of yak hair). After five seasons, CBS sold the TV franchise to NBC, which went on to make three made-for-TV Hulk movies, two of which were directed by Bill Bixby himself.

The original Incredible Hulk: Bill Bixby played troubled scientist David Banner, while Lou Ferrigno dominated the screen as the Hulk in the 1970s TV show of the same name.

“Hulk” (2003)
Directed by Ang Lee, this film was the first time the raging green monster made his way to the big screen. “The Hulk”made an impressive $245 million worldwide but had more than its fair share of film production headaches.

The project began back in 1990 and went through several re-writes (at one time or another, at least ten different screenwriters were working on the project). In addition to Eric Bana, the film featured Sam Elliott, Jennifer Connelly and Nick Nolte, as Bruce Banner’s father, David. In the end, mixed reviews and upset fans caused the film to be removed from the Marvel Universe…

Eric Bana plays the alter ego of the green giant.

“The Incredible Hulk” (2008)
After Hulk fans expressed their extreme dissatisfaction with the 2003 film, Marvel reacquired the film rights and began making a movie that would meet fans expectations. One of those fans was actor Edward Norton, who liked the original comic book, as well as the original television series. When Norton was brought on board the movie (directed by Louis Leterrier), he not only took on the role of Bruce Banner but also served as script doctor, rewriting large chunks of Zak Penn’s script.

The movie grossed $263 million worldwide, scoring $58 million of that from DVD sales alone. As the production began, there became increasing conflict between star Norton and the film’s producers. Eventually it was decided that despite his major acting chops and writing talents, the Hulk franchise and Edward Norton would not work together again.

Edward Norton – a fan favorite – parted ways with the franchise due to conflicts over creative control with Marvel Studios.

“Untitled Hulk Movie” (2015)
Mark Ruffalo replaced Edward Norton in “The Avengers” after negotiations between Norton and the studio broke down. Joaquin Phoenix was also rumored to be considered for the part, but in the end, Ruffalo stepped up and not only played the role, but owned it. For the voice of the Hulk in “The Avengers,” the filmmakers tapped Lou Ferrigno, who played the Hulk in the original television show, and who has often voiced him in other versions.

Ruffalo and “the other guy,” his new alter ego, The Incredible Hulk.

Actor Ruffalo spoke about playing the character(s) recently and had this to say, “(Bruce Banner is) a guy struggling with two sides of himself, the dark and the light; everything he does in his life is filtered through issues of control.” What does he think about the “hulking” alter ego? “(He’s) a loose cannon – he’s the teammate none of them are sure they want. It’s like throwing a grenade into the middle of the group and hoping it turns out well!”

It looks like it will turn out well – Ruffalo enjoyed playing the Hulk so much, he has a six-film deal. And based on audience reaction, it appears fans have finally found their not-so-jolly green giant.


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