Was Ang Lee’s Hulk Better than Leterrier’s After All?

Ah, I love me some crow. Wasn’t it just a month ago that every movie site out there was boasting about the potential greatness of Louis Leterrier’s “The Incredible Hulk” while, of course, freely (and in some cases, feeling the fanboy urge to unnecessarily) bash Ang Lee’s 2003 version? All these same movie sites, run by guys undoubtedly smarter than I, were gushing about the genius addition of Edward Norton, and how this Hulk was going to have “legs” at the box office. As it turns out, not so much. Sure, Norton did his usual good job, but let’s face it, in your heart of hearts you all know that this Hulk was no better (and in fact, I found it wanting) than the previous Hulk, and its legs turned out to be stumps. Word of mouth and second-week take for the movie went down the crapper — along with all the predictions.

At the end of the day, it’s looking like Leterrier’s much hoorayed reboot of Lee’s much malign Hulk isn’t going to do any better, numbers-wised, despite all the hoopla hailing it as the second coming.

Reuters makes the case against gratuitous reboots:

Five years ago, “Hulk,” the first movie based on Marvel’s hulking green comic book character, rang up $245 million in worldwide box office but was widely dismissed as a commercial failure.

The second attempt, “The Incredible Hulk,” amped up the fun factor and dialed down the brooding of director Ang Lee’s original but is unlikely to gross significantly higher than its predecessor and might not spawn a sequel. And it’s been dubbed a success.

What gives?

“We’re happy with the financial results, even if they (only) reach the first film’s levels,” a Marvel insider insisted. “Having a sequel is not the definition of success.”

That’s fortunate, as even outpacing the first film’s worldwide haul by 10% looks optimistic at this point, and that’s not likely to stoke enthusiasm for a franchise follow-up anytime soon.

The fun parts are these: Leterrier’s Hulk cost more than Lee’s to produce and advertise ($50 mil or so), and if you tally in the strength of the dollar in 2003 terms, Lee’s version will probably still end up making more money and, technically, be more commercially successful. (That, and the fact that it was a far superior film in every respects, but let’s not open that can of worms…)

Of course, I’m sure this won’t stop all the Ang Lee Hulk bashing. Irrational hatred of movies is every fanboy’s right, gosh darn it!

Now if only they’ll finish “Ultimate Wolverine vs. Hulk” already…

Hulk vs Wolverine