'Hulk' Sequel Could Leave Eric Bana Green With Envy

First installment's star says he hasn't been approached about in-the-works follow-up.

Comic book junkies got their minds blown last week when Marvel Comics announced that it's sinking big bucks into a bundle of blockbuster superhero movies. Building on the cinematic success of characters like Spider-Man and X-Men, the gatekeepers have since begun transforming a slew of characters ranging from household names (Captain America) to obscure cult figures (Ant-Man) into popcorn-selling super-flicks.

One commissioned screenplay, however, is raising substantially more controversy than the others (see "Marvel Hires Hollywood Heavyweights For Slate Of Superheroes"). It's the sequel to "The Hulk," the 2003 flick that reportedly grossed north of $130 million yet was considered a failure by many fans and critics. Internet debates have already begun to rage over the second installment, with some arguing that director Ang Lee's cerebral story line should be maintained and others insisting that the iconic character should be rebooted.

One person who hadn't weighed in on the issue was "Hulk" star Eric Bana — until now. Recently, the actor admitted that if someone else were allowed to take over his superhero role, it would leave him green with envy.

"Look, I'm really proud of it," the 37-year-old "Munich" star said, defending the flick many considered too smart for its own good. "It's actually one of those movies that people come up to me and say, 'I just saw it on DVD and wow, it's pretty incredible.' "

Such comments are all the more reason why Bana said he's happy to hear that a theatrically released sequel is in the works — even if Marvel hasn't approached him yet about starring in it. "No, they haven't," he said. "I don't know anything about it."

Acknowledging the fan gripes he also continues to receive three years later, Bana expressed hope that a sequel would offer him the chance to give fans something closer to the popcorn fare many originally hoped for. "I would like to see him take on a less serious tone," the actor said. "That's just me personally. I would probably like it to be a little lighter."

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What that could mean is more punch lines and fewer existential quandaries. "It wasn't the kind of movie that had people standing and cheering in the aisles," Bana admitted. "I think maybe a lot of people wanted to do that."

Now, genetic scientist Bruce Banner is undergoing another transformation, this one at the hands of "X-Men: The Last Stand" mastermind Zak Penn. "I am familiar with his work," Bana said of the writer assigned to the sequel. "We'll have to wait and see [what Penn comes up with] ... I haven't spoken to anyone, so I really wouldn't have a clue."

The "Hulk" series will continue to hover in movie limbo in the meantime, sharing company with other financially successful-enough-to-maybe-deserve-sequel films like "The Sum of All Fears" and "The Scorpion King." Unlike those mixed successes, however, the Incredible Hulk offers a world-famous character who many say has yet to bring his A-game.

With the possibility of a second chance, then, Eric Bana will wait for the phone call that might allow him to tear through a few more pairs of pants. Or, if the decision is indeed made to pass him over, it could make Bana angry — and Marvel might not like him when he's angry.

"There are certainly many directions I could take it after the first one," the star speculated. "Whether or not I'll end up being involved is anyone's call."

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