Marvel Studios Producer Gives Insight Into The Incredible Hulk Creative Conflict

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Remember when Edward Norton was Bruce Banner/The Hulk? I don’t blame you if it’s a fuzzy memory, as The Incredible Hulk is one of the more forgettable movies in the MCU. Despite this, it’s actually been referenced quite often, with Tim Roth’s Abomination making a welcome return in Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings earlier this year.

But the film itself has become renowned for the creative conflicts that arose during its production. Star Edward Norton only agreed to play Bruce Banner/Hulk after Marvel Studios allowed him to rewrite the script. He promptly set to work fleshing out Banner’s character, often reworking scenes during the shoot to add complexity to the role

Unfortunately, all those pushed the film over the two-hour mark, and most of his additional material ended up on the cutting room floor. The experience caused Norton to part ways with the studio, with Mark Ruffalo taking over from him in The Avengers.

This process was a fractious one, and we get a new perspective on what was going on behind the scenes in new book The Story of Marvel Studios: The Making of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Marvel Studios producer Stephen Broussard explains that he moved out so he could be on set as much as possible and attempted to mediate between Norton and director Louis Leterrier:

“Kevin [Feige] would come as much as he could, but there were many days where you’re the only guy on-set. You’re the voice of the producers, but I was the youngest person in the room by far. I always felt like I was going to be turned to at any moment and told, ‘You can go now. Let the grown-ups have it’.”

He continued:

“I could facilitate change in a way that was helpful to the movie and helpful to [director Louis Leterrier]. I remember feeling like this is the job of a producer. It’s, on one hand, helping the director realize their vision, but it’s also challenging the story. Never in a confrontational way, but saying, ‘What about this?’ or ‘Let’s look at this from this way?’ A little bit of creative butting heads, which all sounds negative, is healthy.”

What resulted isn’t exactly a bad movie, but it’s definitely considered a bottom-tier MCU title. Even so, we’ve seen references to its story in What If…? and William Hurt’s General Thunderbolt Ross is a mainstay in the MCU and will play a major role in Thunderbolts. And, despite the rough start, the MCU’s green giant is now a fixture of the shared universe, so it all worked out in the end for The Incredible Hulk.