NY Times on The Hulk

Monday, September 16 2002

Posted on NYTimes.com

The following was posted on NYTimes.com:

ARTS AND LEISURE DESK | September 8, 2002, Sunday
Big Green Monster, Hidden Superhero

By FRANK DeCARO (NYT) 382 words
Late Edition - Final, Section 2, Page 58, Column 5

LEAD PARAGRAPH - It was -- with all respect to my fellow journalist Peter Parker -- the most exciting thing about ''Spider-Man.'' I refer, of course, to a trailer that preceded the arachnid adventure at most showings in May. In it, a young, good-looking man is seen routinely grooming himself at the sink. Then something goes wrong. A rumble is heard. Cut to an exterior shot of his house exploding in a shower of shingles, shards of glass and shaving cream. Then four words appear: The Hulk Summer 2003. The day I saw it there was a burst of applause.

Those of us who spun ''Spider-Man's'' box office net to almost $800 million worldwide are already primed for the not-so-jolly green giant's transformation into a wide-screen summer epic, due on June 20. And one thing is certain. This movie isn't Bill Bixby getting in touch with his inner Lou Ferrigno on ''The Incredible Hulk,'' circa 1978. It's the director Ang Lee's version of the 40-year-old Marvel comic book.

He's working again with his screenwriter on "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon," James Schamus, and they have taken on Stan Lee and Jack Kirby's tale of a nuclear physicist, Dr. Bruce Banner, whose exposure to gamma radiation transforms him, in times of stress, into a 7-foot-tall, bright green demolition man. Mr. Lee has cast Eric Bana as Banner and Jennifer Connelly as his fellow scientist Betty Ross, who unwittingly unleashes the Hulk. Nick Nolte, Sam Elliott and lots of computer-generated images of major muscles are also to appear.

Mr. Lee's take is that the Hulk is both a superhero and a monster — a dichotomy that makes him so very current. What world leader isn't a little of both these days? The film, now in postproduction, promises up-to-the-minute special effects and something decidedly old-fashioned — the kind of pathos that once made Universal's classic horror films so, well, universal. If that combination works — and, given Mr. Lee's track record, there's no reason to think it won't — the film is likely to be a huge hit. But if there's a sequel, please don't call it "Bride of the Hulk."

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