He's one of the biggest comic book icons in the world, but in the few-month span that also brought us "The Dark Knight," "Iron Man," "Hancock" and "Hellboy," does the Hulk even crack the top-three superheroes of the summer?
Given expectations for the reboot — which was Marvel Studios' second self-financed release after "Iron Man" — that it would reinvent and reinvigorate the character after a 2003 Ang Lee film that left many disappointed, can you even call "The Incredible Hulk" a success?
A rousing one, Marvel Studios President of Production Kevin Feige told MTV News, citing increased box-office receipts and positive critical reaction as proof that the gamble worked.
"When we set out to do this, it was a very big deal for us. It was a big deal getting the character back, it was a big deal having it be the second of the films we were going to do ourselves, and we really had two goals in mind," he explained. "One was to make even a dollar more than the first one did, so we could justify that we had done it from a financial aspect, and the other one was to bring a Hulk to the screen that a broader fanbase could enjoy. The good news is, we accomplished both."
Lee's "Hulk," starring Eric Bana as the titular green monster, made $132 million in 2003 (not adjusted for inflation) and scored 61 percent "fresh" on review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes. Director Louis Leterrier's version, meanwhile, made $134 million and scored 67 percent.
By contrast, "The Dark Knight" and "Iron Man" scored 94 and 93 percent "fresh," respectively, and both made north of $300 million ("Dark Knight" made well north of that, of course, settling in at approximately $530 million domestic).
"We made more [than the first 'Hulk']," Feige repeated, insisting that was all that mattered in his calculations. "We made 3 or maybe 4 million more domestically, and I think 10 or 12 million more internationally. That was one feather and a big deal! Now we have a Hulk that we can be proud of and that is a better match and fits more with the tone of what had been in our comics and what we want him to be in our films going forward."
But if Feige's assertions can be taken at face value, and the film is viewed internally as a huge success, why is it that the studio's plans moving forward don't seem to include "The Hulk"? While "Iron Man 2" and "Iron Man 3" have already been scheduled, and "The Avengers" is readying for a 2011 release, not so much as a whisper has been heard about a possible "Hulk 2." Star Edward Norton himself recently told MTV News that he had no idea about a follow-up, calling "the minds of Marvel ... sometimes opaque."
"The truth is that Hulk has had two films in the past five years, and it's time to give some of the other guys a turn," Feige said of why there was no scheduled "Hulk 2." "But certainly what we are doing is suggesting and cross-pollinating the characters between films, and like reading a comic, I'd like to set that expectation that anything can happen — and anyone can pop up — in anybody else's story.
"I would expect that people may see the Hulk again soon before he is again carrying his own film," he concluded, shouting out "The Avengers" as a possibility.
"The Incredible Hulk" smashes its way to DVD on October 21.
What do you think? Was "The Hulk" a big success, or did it just prove that the character doesn't translate well to the screen? Sound off on all your thoughts below.
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