Louis Leterrier wanted Mark Ruffalo for the role of Bruce Banner, but Marvel insisted on Edward Norton. Ironically, Ruffalo would go on to replace Norton as Banner in future Marvel Cinematic Universe movies.
Although cut from the theatrical run, Captain America can be seen in the alternate beginning on the DVD and Blu-Ray. When the last piece of ice breaks up toward the screen, hit the pause button. There, frozen in the ice, lies Cap with his shield.
Paul Soles, who portrays "Stanley", the owner of the pizza shop, provided the voice for Dr. Bruce Banner in the Hulk (1966) animated series. The character's name may also be another tribute to Hulk co-creator Stan Lee.
(at around 4 mins) Near the beginning of the movie, when Banner is flipping channels on the television, one of the shows he stops on is The Courtship of Eddie's Father (1969), which starred Bill Bixby, Bixby is seen on the screen for several seconds. Bixby played Dr. Banner in The Incredible Hulk (1978) television series.
In a deleted scene, Blonsky (Tim Roth) describes the Hulk to General Greller (Peter Mensah): "Eight foot, fifteen hundred pounds easy, and green. Or gray, sir. Greenish gray.. It was very dark, I couldn't tell." This is a reference to the Hulk being gray in his first comic appearance. Problems with the gray coloring in the first issue led to his skin color being changed to green.
This is the only Marvel Cinematic Universe Phase One film, in which Nick Fury does not appear. However, his name appears in the opening credit montage at the 2:46 mark (on a S.H.I.E.L.D. page, with the text Nick Fury, Shield Command, Code RED, New York, NY 060564).
Captain America: Civil War (2016) is the first reappearance of William Hurt as General Thaddeus Ross since this film, an eight-year absence for his character. The Russo brothers, directing that film, wanted to incorporate Ross, as they felt that character had been forgotten a bit since this film.
(at around 1h 4 mins) After the Hulk appears at Culver University, two students are interviewed in the news, named Jack McGee and Jim Wilson. Jack McGee was a tabloid reporter who attempted to track down the Hulk in The Incredible Hulk (1978) television series, and in the comics, Jim Wilson was a young orphan who befriended the Hulk.
Edward Norton, who had previously re-written films he starred in, wrote a draft of the script, which Louis Leterrier and Marvel Studios found satisfactory in establishing the film as a reboot of Hulk (2003). As Norton explained, "I don't think that in great literature and films, explaining the story's roots means it comes in the beginning. Audiences know the story, so we're dealing with it artfully." Norton's re-write added the character of Doc Samson, and mentioned references to other Marvel Comics characters. He also wanted to put in "revelations about what set the whole thing in motion" that would be explained in future installments.
Stylistically, the filmmakers chose a darker shade of green from Hulk (2003), and decided to not make him as large. His size does not increase as he becomes further enraged, staying at a consistent height.
Louis Leterrier insisted that Tim Roth, of whom he is a big fan, be cast as the film's main antagonist, even though Marvel Studios and Edward Norton were initially unsure of Roth as a supervillain. Leterrier later said, "It's great watching a normal Cockney boy become a superhero!"
There are moments foreshadowing Captain America: The First Avenger (2011). First, there is a portrait of Steve Rogers, the original Captain America, in General Ross' office. Next, a label can be seen on the storage tank reading: "Dr. Reinstein", the doctor who developed the Super-Soldier serum that made Rogers into the Captain (along with a radiation symbol and the words "vita-rays", hinting that the serum shouldn't be used without them). Louis Leterrier shot a scene where Banner encounters the Captain in the Arctic, but it was cut out of the main film. It is on the special features options of some DVD editions, however.
The only film in Marvel Cinematic Universe Phase One not to be distributed by Paramount Pictures, as Universal has had the rights to "The Incredible Hulk" since the television series, The Incredible Hulk (1978).
In Germany, the film was cut for a more commercial "Not under 12" rating. However, these cuts were done so clumsily, that not only movie buffs, but also average movie goers, noticed them, which resulted in lots of complaints to theater owners. To apologize for this, some cinemas gave away free movie tickets to the complaining customers. Additionally, many cinemas, including some of Germany's largest cinema chains, included warning messages on their websites to raise awareness of the issue.
Edward Norton re-wrote the script substantially, and on certain posters, he was credited under the pseudonym of "Edward Harrison". Norton's writing credit was later denied by the WGA, and Zak Penn is the only writer credited.
(at around 31 mins) In the market scene in Chiapas, the "Lonely Man" theme from The Incredible Hulk (1978) television series, which played whenever Dr. David Bruce Banner was on the road traveling from one place to another, is heard in the musical score.
The Hulk's look was based on comic book artist Dale Keown's drawings, where "The Hulk, being beyond perfect, has zero grams of fat, is all chiselled, and is defined by his muscle and strength, so he's like a tank."
Edward Norton and Tim Roth filmed their Hulk-Abomination fights on a stage, using motion capture, and thirty-seven digital cameras. Roth enjoyed using the motion capture technique, because it reminded him of fringe theater.
An earlier draft made The Abomination a composite character with Glenn Talbot, a different character from the comics, who was portrayed by Adrian Pasdar in the television show Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (2013), which is also a part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
(at around 1h 9 mins) When Bruce Banner e-mails Mr. Blue with his data, while Betty purchases the used truck, the e-mail is tracked through the Strategic Homeland Intervention Enforcement Logistics Division (S.H.I.E.L.D.) database.
Ray Stevenson was considered for the role of Emil Blonsky. He would later play Volstagg in the Thor films. Stevenson is no stranger to having portrayed a Marvel character, having starred as the Punisher in Punisher: War Zone (2008).
In the comics, the Abomination possesses pointed ears. Louis Leterrier wanted this characteristic to appear in the film, but reasoned that the Hulk would bite them off (a la Mike Tyson on Evander Holyfield), which was considered too intense for a PG-13 film.
Is the only one of the three films released in the summer of 2008, based on a comic book, that wasn't nominated for any Academy Awards. The others being The Dark Knight (2008), and Hellboy II: The Golden Army (2008).
In addition to doing re-writes, Edward Norton directed himself in some of his own scenes too, such as the campus scenes, to save time, when Louis Leterrier was busy working with the Second Unit. This is mentioned on the Director's Commentary of the Blu-ray.
The Hulk, as portrayed in this film, was created through a blend of motion capture and key frame animation (by Rhythm & Hues). Hulk (2003)'s visual effects were carried out by Industrial Light & Magic, with Ang Lee providing motion-capture.
(at around 38 mins) Edward Norton's wife Shauna Robertson produced Knocked Up (2007), and he wished to have one of the stars of Knocked Up (2007) appear in a cameo as a computer nerd. The role was offered to Jason Segel, Jonah Hill, and Seth Rogen, before Martin Starr was eventually cast. Starr would later make an appearance as another character in Spider-Man: Homecoming, another Marvel Cinematic Universe film nine years later. Paul Rudd, another actor from Knocked Up (2007) would also later appear in the MCU as Scott Lang/Ant-Man in Ant-Man (2015)
Although Louis Leterrier liked Hulk (2003), he concurred with Marvel Studios that to continue the franchise, it would be better to deviate from Ang Lee's cerebral style from the first film, and focus on a more action-filled tone. He also believed that in keeping with Hulk's poetic feel, the visual effects were mostly "A fluorescent-green guy, who was simply flying around. He had no weight, and was too smooth-looking." So he wished to make the film's visual effects grittier and darker "and perhaps even a little scarier!"
The Hercules aircraft (337), at the beginning of the movie, is stationed at 8 Wing Trenton, Ontario. It is a Canadian Air Force plane, flown by Canadian Military pilots. It was painted to resemble the U.S. Air Force planes.
Visual Effects Supervisor Kurt Williams created special computer programs that controlled the inflation of muscles and saturation of skin color for the transformations (since Williams reasoned that skin color was influenced by emotions, like blushing for instance).
(at around 9 mins) In the bottling plant, when Banner tries to talk to the girl, and the bald-headed goon messes with him, Banner tries to say "Don't make me angry. You wouldn't like me when I'm angry" in Portuguese, but can't remember the word for angry, so he says "hungry". "Mr. McGee, don't make me angry. You wouldn't like me when I'm angry." was a famous line from The Incredible Hulk (1978).
In 2003, James Schamus had written a treatment for a direct sequel to Hulk (2003) featuring the Grey Hulk, with The Leader, and The Abomination under consideration as the lead villain. However, Universal, at that time, owned the rights to making the film, and by the time the rights expired at the end of 2005, Marvel owned the movie production rights, with Universal only distributing it.
The film joined Toronto's Green-Screen initiative, to help cut carbon emissions and waste created during filming. Hybrid and fuel-efficient vehicles were used, with ultra low sulphur diesel as their energy source. For constructing the sets, the production department used a sustainably-harvested locally-sourced yellow pine, instead of the commonly-used lauan, and afterwards, the wood was either recycled, or given to environmental organizations. Paints with no or low volatile organic compounds were used, and paint cans were handed to waste management. A contractor was on-set to remove bins. Environmentally-friendly items used on the set included cloth bags, biodegradable food containers, china, and silverware food utensils, recycled paper, biodegradable soap, and cleaners, rechargeable batteries, and stainless steel mugs (one for each production member). Gale Anne Hurd hoped the film will be a symbol of the drive to encourage less pollution from film productions.
Martin Starr has a brief appearance in the film as the Computer Nerd. Nine years later, Starr appears as a teacher in Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017). One theory in the Marvel Cinematic Universe is that Starr's character in this film is the younger version of his character in the latter film working on his degree.
The serum, with which Emil Blonsky is injected, has a different effect on him, unlike Captain America, and the process in which he received his powers, the first notable change, is his physical transformation from a scrawny thin guy, to a ripped tall guy.
William Hurt was under consideration for the role of General Robert E. Lee in Gettysburg (1993). Another role, that of General John Buford, ended up being played by Sam Elliot, who played General Ross in Hulk (2003).
For the sake of anonymity, Bruce Banner's computer pen pal is Mr. Blue, while Bruce refers to himself as Mr. Green. Another movie whose characters use the "Mr. Color" convention, for anonymity purposes, is Reservoir Dogs (1992), also starring Tim Roth as Mr. Orange.
When Hulk and Abomination begin the 'Harlem' fight, Abomination spits out a tooth after being punched. In Avengers Age of Ultron, a similar scene takes place during the Hulkbuster vs. Hulk South Africa fight.
Bill Bixby (Who depicted Bruce Banner in the original television series '77 - '88) was shortly seen in the beginning of the movie on a television screen, when Bruce (Edward Norton) was changing channels.
At the beginning of the film, a quick glimpse of Bruce's known associates appears. One of the names shown is that of Rick Jones. In the Incredible Hulk comic, Rick Jones was an orphan who drove out onto the weapons testing sight on a dare. Rick was unaware that Bruce's gamma bomb was being tested that day but was saved by Bruce just as the bomb went off. This sacrifice is what caused Bruce to become the Hulk. Rick, wracked by guilt for what happened, has stayed by Bruce's side from then on.
(at around 1h 3 mins) This film marks the second time the character of Bruce Banner had appeared naked on film. In Hulk (2003), he's seen nude after he reverts back to his normal form, after the fight with the mutant dogs. In this film, he's seen nude as he's reflecting on past events in the shower.
(at around 58 mins) When General Ross is talking with Leonard, Betty Ross' psychologist boyfriend, Leonard says that the Hulk protected Betty, but Ross nearly killed her. General Ross claims, "Her safety is my main concern." Leonard replies, "It's a point of professional pride for me, that I can tell when somebody's lying, and you are." Tim Roth would later portray a psychologist, who could tell when someone was lying, in the FOX television show Lie to Me (2009).
The trivia items below may give away important plot points.
According to Louis Leterrier, the final shot (Banner grins as his eyes turn green) was a deliberately ambiguous shot. It was meant to show that Bruce finally learned to control the Hulk (for a Hulk sequel) or will become a menace (as the villain for the film The Avengers (2012)). Ultimately, the Hulk becomes a team player in The Avengers (2012), and Banner even reveals his secret of staying calm. He's always angry.
(at around 1h 26 mins) Samuel Sterns (Tim Blake Nelson) gets the Hulk's blood in a wound in his head. His head starts to mutate, and then he smiles. This is a foreshadowing of his role in a possible sequel as the main villain, The Leader.
Contrary to popular belief, this film does not contain a post-credits scene. The famous scene of Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) approaching General Ross (William Hurt) is the final scene of the main movie, and occurs before the credits. As it stands, this is the only Marvel Cinematic Universe film that contains neither a post-credits scene, nor a mid-credits scene.
(at around 32 mins) According to General Ross, the serum project that mutated Bruce Banner into the Hulk, was developed during World War II. This is a teaser for Captain America: The First Avenger (2011), whose hero was created in the 1940s with the use of a special serum. Additionally, the person who takes the serum must be treated with a unique form of radiation. Any accidents or deviations from the procedure, can cause horrific side-effects to occur, as befalls Banner and Blonsky.
(at around 1h 25 mins) Zak Penn felt that the name "Abomination" sounded too silly, so Emil Blonsky is only referred to by his proper name. However, the word is used once when Samuel Sterns warns Blonsky that the mix of Banner's mutated DNA with Blonsky's injection "could be... an abomination."
In the comics, Emil Blonsky takes on a scaly reptilian appearance, becoming the Abomination. Louis Leterrier felt that while that was cool, it made no sense, considering there was no reptile mix in his origin. So, in this film, Blonsky's appearance is redefined substantially, to have his skin, muscles, and bones exaggerated, and sticking out all over his body. Leterrier describes Blonsky as "an uber-human, just like the Hulk, but a human who was injected with something in the wrong places, and these places are growing differently." The Visual Effects Artists think of Blonsky as "a guy who transforms, but is not used to having these new properties. For instance, he's much heavier, so when he walks down the sidewalk, he's tripping, because his weight is destroying the sidewalk."
Although the final scenes are set in Manhattan (Harlem to be exact), they were shot in Toronto, with the initial showdown between the Hulk and the Abomination being filmed on Yonge Street. Several Toronto icons are visible, most notably the "spinning disc" sign for Sam the Record Man, and the marquee of the Zanzibar Tavern.
The Hulk's origin in this film is a combination of the Marvel Ultimates comics (experimenting on Captain America's super-soldier serum) and The Incredible Hulk (1978) (over-exposure to gamma radiation in an experiment). Even the equipment seen is a close match to that used in the television series, right down to the light sliding over Banner's face.
Tim Roth signed on the film, because he was a fan of The Incredible Hulk (1978), as well as to please his comic book fan sons. On-set, he constantly asked whether this would "be a cool shot", in which his kids to see him. He thoroughly enjoyed playing Blonsky, but found it difficult, since to portray Blonsky's over-the-hill state, he could not work out, but he hired a personal trainer to assist him in motion-capturing the Abomination's movements.
After Hulk defeats Abomination, a helicopter flies above and shines a spotlight on the Hulk. The light is so bright that it makes his skin look gray, which is a reference to his original gray skin in the early Hulk comics.
In this film , Bruce (Edward Norton) learns to control his anger partially through martial arts training. The martial arts instructor who (with Bruce's permission) slaps him a couple times during training, is played by renowned Brazilian Jiu-jitsu Grandmaster Rickson Gracie, whose family were the founders of Brazilian Jiu-jitsu. In Brazil, it is called: "Gracie Jiu-jitsu". However, his role is named in the credits as an "Aikido Instructor." Aikido is a soft-style martial art, where practitioners use techniques to redirect their attacker's momentum against them, without harming themselves. However, Jiu-jitsu is a hard-style martial art, and Bruce demonstrates its "shoot" takedown technique with his attacker, during the factory and street chase scene.
(at around 1h 40 mins) Toward the end of the film, when Banner is hiding out on Canada, he receives a package addressed to David B. In the early Hulk issues, Banner's name evolved from David Banner, to Bob Banner, and finally settled at Bruce Banner. When the changes were pointed out in the letter columns, Marvel (and it may have been Stan Lee) "explained" the changes saying that his full name was something like David Bob Bruce Banner, and he chose to go by Bruce.
In the Bruce Jones Hulk comics, Betty Ross aided Bruce Banner, as a shadowy contact under the alias "Mr. Blue". Mr. Blue appears in this film, but is revealed to be Samuel Sterns. The title "Mr. Blue" is also a possible (though unlikely) reference to Tim Roth's crime film Reservoir Dogs (1992), which featured Roth as Mr. Orange, and a Mr. Blue portrayed by Edward Bunker.