The Incredible Hulk has been the black sheep of Marvel Studios. It’s truly an outlier for the mega studio in such an unprecedented way that it still hasn’t shown up on Disney+. However, it might be coming sooner rather than later thanks to the trade-off of character rights.
And after years of pretending that the movie just doesn’t exist, Marvel has now started to incorporate characters from the movie in the MCU. The first one is Tim Roth’s Abomination, who will be showing up in the She-Hulk series.
Also, as per Shang-Chi And The Legend Of The Ten Rings trailer, Abomination will be in that movie as well. Fans have wondered for long why The Incredible Hulk wasn’t part of the MCU. A new book attempts to give an insight into the production of The Incredible Hulk and just how troubling it was.
In the upcoming book titled “The Story of Marvel Studios: The Making of the Marvel Cinematic Universe,” there’s a really enlightening interview. In the interview, Trinh Tran, presently an Executive of Production & Development at Marvel Studios, talked about her time as a post-production assistant.
This was back when she first started working for Marvel Studios and was assigned projects like The Incredible Hulk and Iron Man. The work on The Incredible Hulk was going on at an off-site facility in the Tribeca West offices.
Iron Man was going on in the first floor while The Incredible Hulk was getting edited three floors from there. Associate producer Stephen Broussard would come to check on the progress of Iron Man, which only served to skyrocket his personal anxiety since he felt that his film was far behind.
The anxiety was about the length of the movie, which was already bloated at 3 hours. To make things worse, Iron Man director Jon Favreau attended a screening of this length and ribbed Broussard about the length. Here’s the quote from the book:
“When both films moved to the Lantana Media Campus in Santa Monica, to complete their post-production and mixing, Broussard saw a late cut of Iron Man that was firing on all cylinders. Meanwhile, Hulk was clocking in with a bloated three-hour cut. Continuing the cross-pollination, Favreau attended the screening of this early version of Hulk and good-naturedly taunted: “Does it feel a little short to you, Stephen?” Broussard reenacts.”
The book even described The Incredible Hulk as a “literal monster.” Something that everyone was surprised by was the fact that in the beginning, it was The Incredible Hulk that was thought of as a sure success. And it was Iron Man that was seen as a risk.
This might make people laugh today, but Broussard didn’t think anything of that. He instead thought that it was awesome and what made the film business so unexpected and yet great. Here’s the quote from the book:
“In that context, it’s easier to see how Marvel Studios’ The Incredible Hulk was treated as their great hope for box office success, while Iron Man was viewed as more of a cool, experimental movie. “But through various circumstances of those films, they switched places,” explains Broussard, “Which I think is awesome; it’s what’s great and unexpected about the movie business. But there was a nervousness, personally for me, of feeling, in a lot of ways, like the runner up as I watched the excitement of Iron Man grow.”
A huge problem for The Incredible Hulk in post-production was also the CGI elements. And more importantly, just how many of them there were in the movie. Here’s the book quote on that:
“Wherever those shifting perceptions may have been leading, there was no time to get lost in the mire of them. Broussard, director Louis Letterier, Feige, and their entire post team had a very limited schedule, and the list of what needed to be accomplished in the post was massive: The title character, the finale antagonist, and most of the finale itself all had to be created entirely by visual effects.”
A major inspiration for the movie was Godzilla. Kevin Feige started that they watched every Godzilla movie there was. Also, the team based much of the structure of The Incredible Hulk on that:
“For inspiration on how to achieve the look and land on the story they wanted, they went straight to the king of all monsters. “We watched every Godzilla movie ever,” Feige reveals. “That’s exactly what the structure of The Incredible Hulk is. The government fights Godzilla for three-quarters of the movie, then a bigger monster comes along, and Godzilla helps the government fight the bigger monster.”
When Marvel Studios was making The Incredible Hulk and Iron Man, it wasn’t a massive success. They were still learning how to tell engaging stories with frankly, an excessive amount of post-production work. This was a terrifying thing since The Incredible Hulk’s main character when in his superhero form, was a full digital creation.
The book states:
“For post on The Incredible Hulk, figuring out the CGI of it all began just like on Iron Man with the tale itself. The studio was still learning how to do just that: simply tell a good story. On The Incredible Hulk, the most terrifying part was trying to figure that out when the title character was not in any of the footage they’d shot.”
It’s certainly surprising to hear that a film studio thought that one project was going to be a success while another was going to be a flop. In reality, the opposite happened when the movies were released. A similar example can be found with Disney’s The Lion King.
It was seen as just a side project while their main team was working on Pocahontas. The house of mouse thought that Pocahontas was going to give them the laurels they wanted. But instead, it was The Lion King that gave them that honor.
However, it’s not surprising to hear that the executives at Marvel Studios had more faith in The Incredible Hulk rather than Iron Man. After all, Hulk had a popular tv series in the 1970s and was a character that was known in pop culture. The same couldn’t be said about Iron Man.
Back then, very few people knew about Iron Man. Right now, things have changed. Iron Man’s popularity has skyrocketed. Now, Hulk is still a popular character. But it’s clear that his popularity has been overshadowed in some way by Iron Man.
The likely reason for Iron Man’s success was the unexpected outcome of casting Robert Downey Jr. He entranced viewers with his performance as Tony Stark. Also, Downey Jr. actually got to act in the role and connect with the viewers. The same can’t be said for his competition who was a screaming monster for most of the movie.
However, thankfully Hulk isn’t going anywhere, and we can all see him in the upcoming She-Hulk Disney+ show. She-Hulk is currently expected to release on Disney+ in early 2022.