The rabid audience at this year’s New York Comic-Con had barely recovered from the “Hellboy II” presentation, when it was time for the highly-anticipated panel for The Incredible Hulk. Director Louis Letterier, Marvel Studios’ Kevin Feige, producer Gale Anne Hurd and actor Tim Roth, who plays Emil Blonsky AKA The Abomination, were on hand to talk about the movie and show some new, never-before-seen footage.
Much of the focus of the panel was to introduce the film’s “kick ass villain,” The Abomination, and Feige thought it was important for the Hulk to start transforming into a hero with the new movie and that the Hulk might even be an underdog against Blonsky’s final incarnation. They showed a series of clips starting with one of Roth as Emil Blonsky talking to William Hurt’s General Thunderbolt Ross. Ross tells Blonsky about a weapons program initiated during World War II to create a “super soldier” (a far from subtle reference to the serum responsible for creating Captain America), but Blonsky is eager to do whatever it takes to become better and more powerful, after facing the Hulk and being defeated. Ross says he can arrange Blonsky to become a test subject for the serum, and we cut to a scene of a doctor warning Blonsky that it requires two very painful injections, one into the bloodstream and one into the bone marrow. Ross says that if there are any signs of side effects they’d have to immediately stop the experimentwe all know that’s not what will happen though, right?and we then see Blonsky strapped to a hospital table facing the floor with his back exposed and the doctor starts injecting one of the shots into his back as he grimaces in pain.
The second clip shown, which probably takes place before Blonsky’s conversation with Ross, was an extended scene in which Edward Norton’s Bruce Banner first faces Emil Blonsky after a tussle with General Ross’ army. The scene starts with Banner being chased into a glass overpass and trapped in there with military personnel on both sides, and General Ross ordering his men to launch gas grenades into the overpass, which they do. We get a brief glimpse of Liv Tyler’s Betty Ross who looks pretty upset about how her father is treating her boyfriend and she starts running towards the overpass with two soldiers chasing after her. She elbows one of them in the head knocking him down but then the other soldier tackles her to the ground. They start emitting gas and Banner starts tensing up and he rips off his outer shirt to put over his mouth, but obviously, he’s not in a good place. We then see the outside of the now gas-filled overpass and a hand come up and hit the glass sides, which cracks from the impact. We then see some of Banner’s transformation into the Hulk, particularly his feet expanding and breaking open the sneakers. We then see the soldiers on the ground watching the overpass as the Hulk smashes out of it, leaps to the ground and snarls at Ross and the soldiers, who start firing their guns. This is a much bigger and more muscular Hulk than the first movie, and even though the visual FX weren’t completely done, you can tell that this is a far more detailed monster that’s taking full advantage of the motion capture and facial capture techniques being used by Letterier on the film.
Ross commands two fast-moving jeeps armed with machine guns to go after the beast, and they do so as the Hulk runs after one of them, side checks it and then picks it up and uses the jeep to knock out a wall of soldiers with guns. Ross orders Blonsky to do his thing, and Blonsky starts walking confidently towards the rampaging monster firing a large gun at him, as the Hulk takes two large pieces of scrap metal from the jeeps and uses them to stop the bullets. Blonsky then does an impressive leap over the Hulk and shows off some impressive acrobatic maneuvers as the Hulk starts swinging the giant metal slabs at the soldier. Blonsky yells out, “Is that it? Is that all you got?” as the Hulk lifts his enormous leg and kicks Blonsky full in the chest. (The clip ended there, but as we’d see in the trailer later, the result of that blow is that Blonsky is sent hurtling backwards, this humiliating defeat leading to him agreeing to be given the serum that eventually turns him into the Abomination.)
After that scene, we learned that a lot of Blonsky’s stunt choreography (and stuntwork) was done by none other than Cyril Raffaelli. the star of Pierre Morel’s District B13, the connection being that Morel was the DP on Letterier’s previous films The Transporter and Unleashed. It was pretty obvious that Letterier and Marvel Studios had been keeping this film close to their vests because they wanted to create more of an impact at the New York Comic-Con and they immediately started fielding questions from the audience. One of the questions a lot of people have asked was whether the Hulk or Abomination would actually speak in the movie rather than just snarl at each other as monsters tend to do. Letterier remained coy in answering although he realized that having the Hulk yell “Hulk Smash!” was very important to remaining true to the comics. In fact, Feige told the audience that the comic panels Letterier had selected as visual influence for the movie that he had put up on the wall in the production offices, every single one of them had been used in the movie.
That said, the film is equally influenced by the ’70s television show starring Bill Bixby and Lou Ferrigno, and the mention of the show prompted Ferrigno, a comic convention regular, to come out onto the stage to flex his muscles and say a few words about his involvement with the new movie and how excited he was to see someone giving Hulk fans what they want. Letterier said how much he hates those cheesy cameos by comic book creators in recent Marvel movies, so he decided to give Ferrigno a real role in the movie that he thought would be funnier. He then asked Ferrigno, who never spoke as the Hulk on the original live action show but provided the voice for the Hulk in the 1996 cartoon, to give the audience a sample of his “Hulk Smash!” which prompted Letterier to offer Ferrigno a job doing just that for the movie. This seemed far too staged to be an impromptu job offer, but indeed, it seems like whatever the Hulk might say in the movie, that voice will indeed be provided by Lou Ferrigno.
After taking questions from the audience, they showed the new unfinished trailer that will debut with Iron Man (Paramount/Marvel Studios) on May 2nd which incorporates a lot of the footage we had just seen of the Hulk taking on the army, as well as a great scene of the Hulk ripping a car in half. The biggest surprise was a scene afterwards that shows General Ross sitting in a seedy bar when a silhouette appears at the door and it’s none other than Robert Downey Jr.’s Tony Stark. The two of them basically have a verbal exchange with Ross complimenting Stark on his suit and Stark telling Ross that he can help him with his “problem.” It’s unclear whether this scene will be shown as part of the official trailer and whether this scene will be something saved for after the movie’s end credits, but it certainly is the first step towards the set-up for the very much anticipated “Avengers” movie that everyone has been hinting at for years.
Surely, anyone at Comic-Con who saw this presentation has little doubt that Letterier, Marvel Studios and Universal got it right this time with their relaunch of the Hulk, but after the panel, ComingSoon.net/Superhero Hype! had a chance to speak with Letterier, Hurd and Feige about some of the influences and decisions that went into making the new movie, which you can read about here.
The Incredible Hulk (Universal/Marvel Studios) opens on June 13.