“The Incredible Hulk” director Louis Leterrier was the first guest on the new “Happy Sad Confused” spinoff series “Watchalong” and he got frank while discussing his 2008 comic book movie. The film, which starred Edward Norton as Bruce Banner and the Hulk, was the second movie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but its critical and commercial reception nosedived compared to “Iron Man,” which opened a month before. “The Incredible Hulk” only grossed $264 million worldwide, a sharp decline from “Iron Man’s” $585 million.
It’s well known by now that Marvel scrapped all the follow-up plans it had for Norton continuing as Hulk. He was later replaced by Mark Ruffalo. Norton clashed with Marvel during the making of the film, with Leterrier saying that the movie’s tone was perhaps the biggest point of contention.
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“The whole way, everybody was in lock step. It just got tense at the end,” the director remembered. “The end, it was very tense about the tone and the level of humor. Although Edward is very funny, all his friends are comedians and he is an extremely funny guy, he was very right in defending the seriousness of the movie. You have to remember, the mid-2010s…’The Dark Knight’ had such an impact on superhero movies.”
Christopher Nolan’s “The Dark Knight” would open a month after “The Incredible Hulk” and revolutionize the superhero movie with its grounded approach to the genre. It appears Norton wanted “The Incredible Hulk” to feel more like what moviegoers would come to know as a serious Nolan superhero movie than a traditional Marvel movie, with its lighter blend of drama and comedy.
Norton’s fight over the film’s tone wasn’t the only tension taking place. Leterrier remembered clashing on set with William Hurt, who starred as Thaddeus Ross.
“William Hurt didn’t want the mustache to act him out. The size of the mustache was a discussion,” Leterrier said. “But sometimes he and I clashed. You have two types of actors. You got your partners, your best friends that you have to cajole all day, and then the people who like to have these arguments. They feed off that. That’s how he worked.”
“One day he was screaming at me, ‘You don’t know anything about actors!'” the director continued. “Too bad for him he was in the giant helicopter at the end and I was at the control. He was like, ‘You have to find the button to the nuclear plant…’ I took the joystick and shook him and he fell and looked at me and was like, ‘I like you!’ That was it. He just wanted to have a little bit of a fight.”
Hurt has since passed away, but Thaddeus Ross is returning to the MCU in “Captain America: Brave New World” and will be played by Harrison Ford. Watch Leterrier’s full discussion on the first episode of “Watchalong” in the video below.
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