'The Hulk' Villain Promises Dark Psychodrama, Hulk Dogs In Upcoming Flick

Ang Lee bringing comic book hero to big screen for first time in June 2003.

Ever since the Hulk's green eye peered out of the teaser trailer attached to "Spider-Man," fans have been clamoring for a look at the long-awaited Hollywood interpretation of the beloved Marvel Comics hero. Well, if one of the movie's main players is to be believed, "The Hulk" will be unlike any comic book movie they've ever seen when it finally hits theaters.

"There's nothing like it," proclaimed Josh Lucas, who plays Major Glenn Talbot in director Ang Lee's upcoming "Hulk" flick.

Lee, the visionary filmmaker behind "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" and "The Ice Storm," is the first director to take the Hulk to the big screen. The Hulk character himself will be completely computer-generated, while Eric Bana of "Black Hawk Down" will play his human counterpart. Lucas plays one of the film's main villains.

"He's a really, really bad guy," said Lucas, who also stars in Reese Witherspoon's upcoming "Sweet Home Alabama," of his character. "But driven by a very genuine reasoning in his own mind. He's not evil for the sake of being evil. He's not superhero-ish in any way. He's definitely coming from a place where his beliefs are feeding what he's doing. Which I think is always the key to playing those characters."

Apparently, Ang Lee's realistic approach to Lucas' villain is consistent with his approach to the entire production.

"It's the 'Ice Storm' of comic books," Lucas promised. "It really is. It's a really dark, psychological, very deep meditation on rage and repression."

Anyone who's followed the Green Goliath through his many comic book, cartoon and live action television incarnations should be well aware that rage is a central component of the Hulk mythos.

As the story goes, the Hulk was created when Dr. Bruce Banner was bombarded by gamma rays during a military experiment. The radioactive energy brought out Banner's inner beast, manifested in physical form by a massive, green-skinned monster of few words, heavy on super strength and possessed with a heroic heart of gold despite his bent toward outright savagery.

Late actor and sitcom director Bill Bixby played Banner on the popular "The Incredible Hulk" TV series that ran during the 1970s, with bodybuilder Lou Ferrigno — who was once Arnold Schwarzenegger's biggest competition — stepping in to play his monstrous counterpart. "The Hulk" was also briefly revived in a series of TV movies starring the same pair, which briefly featured Marvel heroes Thor and Daredevil, who is also getting the big movie treatment (see "Affleck, Garner Open Up About 'Daredevil' ").

This latest "Hulk" co-stars Nick Nolte ("48 Hours") and Jennifer Connelly, who acted alongside Lucas in "A Beautiful Mind."

"There are only five actors in the movie," Lucas said. "So it's really just a very small, interpersonal psychodrama in a sense."

It's a psychodrama that promises to tweak the established Hulk storyline to an undisclosed extent. For one thing, it involves a pack of vicious Hulk dogs.

"They're pretty dark," Lucas explained. "They're Nolte's. Nolte's [character] is definitely askew as well."

"The Hulk" is scheduled to hit theaters on June 20, 2003.