Edward Norton Finally Speaks on The Incredible Hulk 'Feud'
This is very rare. On the exact same day the first teaser trailer debuted in March, we wrote an article about an apparent "feud" star Edward Norton was in with Marvel Studios surrounding the kind of film The Incredible Hulk was to become. "Norton and the film's director, Louis Leterrier, campaigned for a longer, more detailed film. Marvel Studios wanted a faster, leaner one. Marvel won." Now Entertainment Weekly has secured the one-and-only public statement from Norton that he will ever make on this matter and it's not a good one. He blames the press for augmenting the problem and explains that it's best to leave the behind-the-scenes fights in the dark so the movie can be enjoyed for what it is in the end.
When the news hit publicly in March about the apparent feud, it caused things to escalate to an even worse situation than they were at. ”The press is what kept Edward and Marvel from talking to each other,” director Louis Leterrier explained to Entertainment Weekly. ”[The argument] was nothing, but then it became something big.” I almost wish we could deny all involvement, but we did write about it, too. However, I don't think we were as harsh as everyone else. In fact, we all just wanted a good movie - a movie that was true to what Norton and Leterrier wanted it to be.
As much as it seems easy to jump on Marvel's side and complain about Norton's overbearing desire to change this into a film he wants, the truth is, that's who Norton really is and they knew that going in. From EW: "They hired him not only to act but also to rewrite sections of the script, and they let him function as an uncredited producer. Still, Leterrier was nervous. 'The stories I heard about Edward — they scared the bejesus out of me,' he says. 'I was scared the guy would come in and say, 'All right, you're a little French director who's just done action movies, so you stick to the action and I'll do the drama.” Did that happen? 'Not at all!' he says warmly. 'I love the guy. He has a voice; he just wants to be heard. And he hates lip service.'"
Let's just get right down to it. Here is Edward Norton's only public statement on the film.
"Like so many people I've loved the story of The Hulk since I was a kid, so it was thrilling when Marvel asked me to write and help produce an altogether new screen incarnation, as well as play Bruce Banner. I grew up reading Marvel Comics and always loved the mythic dimension and contemporary themes in the stories, and I'm proud of the script I wrote. In every phase of production, including the editing, working with Louis Leterrier has been wonderful…I've never had a better partner, and the collaboration with all the rest of the creative team has been terrific. Every good movie gets forged through collaboration, and different ideas among people who are all committed and respect the validity of each other's opinions is the heart of filmmaking."
"Regrettably, our healthy process, which is and should be a private matter, was misrepresented publicly as a 'dispute,' seized on by people looking for a good story, and has been distorted to such a degree that it risks distracting from the film itself, which Marvel, Universal and I refuse to let happen. It has always been my firm conviction that films should speak for themselves and that knowing too much about how they are made diminishes the magic of watching them. All of us believe The Incredible Hulk will excite old fans and create new ones and be a huge hit…our focus has always been to deliver the Hulk that people have been waiting for and keep the worldwide love affair with the big green guy going strong.”
Cheers to that Mr. Norton! If anything, his involvement and enthusiasm is what has kept me so interested in this new reincarnation of The Incredible Hulk. And hearing about Marvel's desire to turn it into something with lots of action, although enticing, is much more troublesome than anything Norton has tried to do. "During post-production, though, the relationship with Marvel hit a snag. The company wanted to release the most commercial film possible: lots of action and a running time under two hours. Norton and Leterrier, however, lobbied for a more meditative cut of the film that ran about two hours and 15 minutes. Tempers flared between Norton and Marvel."
At this point there is nothing left to do except to sit back and wait for June 13th and hope for the best. There really is nothing that anyone can do - Marvel has won the battle and is putting together a film, with Louis Leterrier, that they want to see. There's no benefit for trying to fight for this supposed "two hours and 15 minutes" version that Norton wanted because who knows how it would have turned out (in comparison). We'll see what we get this June and hope it's good. If not, then the complaints will surface again, but until then I think it's in the best interest of the movie to be supportive.