Two directors sit down for coffee. One is Ang Lee, a quiet, affable director of art-house fare and family dramas. The other is Louis Leterrier, a confident, all-smiling, Gallic Brett Ratner; director of action extravaganzas. They have met to discuss how they might approach a movie based on the Marvel Comics character The Incredible Hulk.
Ang sees it as an oedipal drama.
Louis tells him he’s over-thinking things.
Ang says: No Hulk for at least an hour.
Louis says: This ain’t The Ice Storm, Ang.
But Ang’s convinced. He’s made a quiet, contemplative kung-fu movie into a hit. Why change a winning formula? You take pulp subject matter and you slow it down, work on the subtext. The Incredible Hulk doesn’t seem to have a subtext, but that’s because no-one’s looked for it before. Look at X-Men. Classic gay parable! Hulk is just an American means of dealing with the Oedipus myth. The big green monster is a visual representation of…
Louis loses track. He’s watching a cute waitress wiggle across the room.
Ang, he thinks, Ang… You’ve gotta start with a chase. Hulk on the run! Pursued by army guys! With sonic cannons! The whole key to The Incredible Hulk is that he’s big, green and pissed off at everybody. Just give him someone to be pissed off at. Throw in a pretty girl, some nice location photography… People don’t walk out of The Incredible Hulk saying: I wish they’d focused more on the oedipal drama. They walk out saying: he should’ve smashed more shit up.
Ang wants Eric Bana for the lead. He’s seen him in Chopper. He likes the rage. Bana looks like he should be playing lieutenants in Mafia movies. But he’s vulnerable with it (like he’d cry after whacking somebody).
For The Girl, he figures: Jennifer Connelly. She always plays The Girl, but Serious (like every Girl was Golda Meir). She isn’t the brunette with the big boobs from The Rocketeer anymore. She’s the brunette with no boobs from A Beautiful Mind.
Louis agrees with some of this. He wants similar types. Edward Norton has Bana’s anger, if not his bulk (plus he’s cheap) and Liv Tyler looks a lot like Connelly. The dynamic of the two hot scientists in love works for Hulk (look at what the love story did for Spiderman’s grosses) and besides, he needs to have something in-between chase scenes and special effects shots.
Ang wanders on about the giant poodles he feels are integral to his story-line and the ending that’ll rest on a giant implosion (“It’ll totally subvert audience expectations!”). But Louis knows an art-house guy doesn’t know beans about CGI. If your Hulk looks shit, you’re sunk, thinks the Frenchman. He plans to wait a few years until the effects look right. He’s also going to put in a proper villain (none of this oedipal wrangling for Louis’ Hulk). It’ll be one big green monster versus another big green monster, and more smashed cars than you can shake a stick at.
What’s next after Hulk? he asks Ang.
Gay cowboys, says Ang.
It’s what Louis figured.
And for you? asks Ang.
Hulk 2, says Louis. Remember that girl with two guns and a bikini from Transporter 2?
Ang shrugs (though he’s seen it).
It’ll be like that, says Louis. With Liv. But no bikini.