There’s no doubt now that Marvel Studios’ superhero team-up spectacle The Avengers, once a gigantic question mark seemingly earmarked for a spectacular failure, is going to be the blockbuster to beat this summer.
Although its U.S. release won’t happen until this Friday, the movie is already taking in record grosses around the world and early reviews have been overwhelmingly positive; critics who were practically foaming at the mouth to excoriate the Joss Whedon-directed comic book extravaganza have hailed The Avengers as Marvel’s best film since Iron Man…or even its best film since EVER.
The movie is currently on track to open to a record-breaking first weekend here in the States. Needless to say Marvel’s gamble that has been four years in the making has paid off richly.
Most of the positive criticisms leveled at The Avengers have been for Whedon’s treatment of the character of Dr. Bruce Banner played by Mark Ruffalo and his raging green super-powered alter ego the Hulk. After headlining two failed solo films – 2003’s Hulk, directed by Ang Lee with Eric Bana in the title role, and 2008’s The Incredible Hulk, directed by Louis Letterier with Edward Norton starring – the later screen iteration of the Hulk has been widely acclaimed as the best Hollywood has done to date.
Audiences and longtime fans of the character aren’t the only ones floored by the new take on Stan Lee and Jack Kirby‘s legendary rampaging anti-hero; according to a recent interview with Forbes, Paul Gitter, Marvel Entertainment’s President of Consumer Products for North America, said that executives at Marvel have been “pleasantly surprised by the phenomenal response” to the Hulk’s return to the silver screen.
Gitter told Forbes, “His sales are up in a major way. We repositioned him from where he was always misunderstood to now depicting him in a more heroic and aspirational manner.” The Forbes article later went on to say “that if the Hulk’s successful turnaround continues, Gitter says Marvel will ‘spin him off to a stand-alone [TV] program next year,’ supported by a big budget franchise movie in 2015.” The TV series still has Guillermo del Toro on board as an executive producer, as we first reported back in November 2010.
The news that a third solo Hulk movie is likely seems to conflict with comments from Marvel Studios honcho and The Avengers producer Kevin Feige in an interview he granted to Huffington Post: “I mean, this was the third appearance of Hulk and everything that we had and were going for, we put in to Hulk’s appearance in Avengers. So, I love that people are saying that and are feeling that way about Hulk, but mission accomplished at this point.” Of course that interview was posted more than two weeks ago, and a lot can change in that time.
While a new movie starring the Hulk may not have been part of Marvel’s post-Avengers game plan, it’s clear now that the company has a great launching pad for the project if it should ever come to fruition, thanks to Whedon and Ruffalo’s interpretation of the character and the outstanding CGI work by Industrial Light & Magic. Whether or not the TV show is a success should not hinder a new Hulk movie if Marvel really wants it to go forward and the audience is there.
I’m a fan of the Hulk character and while each of his previous cinematic incarnations contained many virtues, they were also heavily flawed. The finale of The Incredible Hulk was a step in the right direction by having Banner put aside his quest to rid himself of the beast within and use it to combat greater evil, something Whedon perfected in The Avengers.
Having seen the movie recently I would be excited to see Ruffalo return as the character in a solo movie. He gave Bruce Banner a natural charm and a self-deprecating sense of humor that made you appreciate his presence even when he wasn’t Hulk-ing out. Now that the character has been liberated from his brooding self-loathing phase, there are plenty of amazing stories and fantastic villains for the Hulk to do battle with on the big screen. The Avengers showed that Marvel wasn’t afraid to go cosmic for their adversaries; now let’s see if the Leader, the Absorbing Man, Tyrannus, and the Hulkbusters will finally get their time to shine.
[Source: via The Playlist]