Page last updated at 08:14 GMT, Friday, 13 June 2008 09:14 UK

The Hulk returns to the big screen

The Incredible Hulk

By Peter Bowes
BBC News Los Angeles

The Incredible Hulk, complete with digitally enhanced biceps and some old anger management issues, returns to the big screen this weekend.

It is only five years since the green Goliath's last cinematic outing in the 2003 film, Hulk. Director Ang Lee's movie suffered a mauling at the hands of critics and did only moderate business at the box office.

But Hollywood knows a good story when it sees one and the French director Louis Leterrier, who made the Transporter films, accepted an offer to remake or re-imagine the tale of the monster with elasticated pants.

"I loved the first one so I didn't want to do the same thing, exactly," says Leterrier.

"It's the beginning of a story but it's not Ang's movie.

"So you can see Ang's movie and see my movie and like both of them differently. It's not a continuation - it's a different cast and everything."

Liv Tyler talks about playing Betty Ross

The idea of another Hulk movie took many in Hollywood by surprise - including Liv Tyler, who plays Betty Ross, the Hulk or rather, Bruce Banner's love interest.

"I was actually really shocked," she said.

"I think I had the reaction that most people had, 'Didn't they just do that?' And then they just explained to me that they were not making a sequel or picking up where they left off - they were doing it again in some kind of way so I was very intrigued."

Gamble

Tim Roth, who appears as the Hulk's arch-nemesis, was not perturbed by the concept of a remake.

"That didn't even cross my mind - I just assumed that they keep making films anyway," he said.

"We've done Shakespeare stuff over and over again and none of it really matters - as long as it's fun.

"These films have got to be fun. They've got to scare you, they've got to make you jump and they've got to be fun."

But the project does appear to have been something of a gamble for Marvel and Universal Pictures.

I'll be in the back of some theatre on opening weekend watching it
Edward Norton

With a lukewarm reaction by fans to Lee's Hulk, it was always going to be a challenge to reinvent the character.

Negative chatter on the internet fuelled rumours that the film's star and writer, Edward Norton, was involved in behind-the-scenes battles.

Norton has taken part in little pre-release promotion for the film - the BBC was told scheduling difficulties" prevented him from sitting down for an interview to discuss the movie.

Hulk appetite

But Norton did put in an appearance at the film's world premiere in Los Angeles, where he dismissed any suggestion that he was at loggerheads with the film's producers.

"That's just people looking for a story. People who make movies know the way it pushes it all upwards... it's all for the good," he said.

But had he seen the final product?

"I haven't actually gotten to see the finished print," he said.

Edward Norton
Edward Norton also co-wrote the film's script

"Our effects came in so late that literally I think Louis has only had the finished print for a week and I have been out of town. I'll be in the back of some theatre on opening weekend watching it."

Norton is convinced Hulk fans would have an appetite for a new interpretation of the story.

"People all over the world know this character and I think that's the way comics work too," he said.

"They change up the story-lines all the time, they re-boot the origins story."

Sequels

The disagreements over the film's final edit appear to have centred on the tone and length of the movie.

Marvel wanted a faster, action-led flick while Norton and Leterrier were in favour of more character development and dialogue.

"It just kind of works in some way - and it has a lot of soul and a lot of heart," said Tyler.

"The best thing they can do is let the film speak for itself. I don't know how the marketing stuff works, but I would imagine there is a built-in fanbase of Hulk lovers."

Tim Roth
British actor Tim Roth plays the Hulk's arch nemesis

"This was just the next in the Hulk line," added Roth.

"The idea was that the Ang Lee film was the origins movie - how the Hulk arrives on the scene.

"In the way of the Batman franchise, you don't have to stick with one idea - you can play around with all kinds of things."

The producers behind the latest movie clearly have a new franchise in their sights - the film's ending leaves the storyline wide open for a sequel or two.

"I know some things that they have got in mind," said Roth.

"The deal that you make when you sign on is for three, so I'm up for it. I'd love to do another one - it would be great. The character's got a lot in him, there's a lot that we can play around with."

The Incredible Hulk is now in UK cinemas. Watch Peter Bowes's TV report on E24, at 1045 BST and 1745 BST on Saturdays, and at 1745 BST and 2145 BST on Sundays on the BBC News Channel.


SEE ALSO
Hurt 'joins Incredible Hulk cast'
13 Jun 07 |  Entertainment
Norton lands new Hulk movie lead
17 Apr 07 |  Entertainment
Hulk star fights real-life crime
14 Feb 06 |  Entertainment

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