If you don’t let me make the final edits, I’ll drink the…stuff in this vial.
The big catchline from the old Incredible Hulk TV show starring Bill Bixby was, “Don’t make me angry. You wouldn’t like me when I’m angry.” Well, Edward Norton, star-writer-producer of the new The Incredible Hulk movie is apparently angry. Or at the very least dissatisfied.
Deadline Hollywood is reporting that Norton is involved in a standoff with Marvel about the final cut of the film. Apparently he was promised, “‘tremendous involvement and access’ after Marvel invited him into the core team to rewrite Zak Penn’s script,” and now there’s a war over how he and the studio define the limits of that involvement. In other words, will the final cut be his version or the studio’s version?
The inevitable unnamed sources cover both sides of the argument. Some say that the studio was asking for trouble just by letting Norton write and get a credit for the screenplay. After all, he has a rep as an actor who has created dissension with the directors of such films as The Italian Job and American History X; Tony Kaye, director of the latter film, complained that Norton recut the film to give himself a bigger part (let me just interject for a moment and say that he was tremendous in that movie and it was better when he was on screen, so maybe Kaye is the one who couldn’t make the right judgment).
Norton, director Louis Leterrier (who hasn’t publicly taken a side) and Marvel producers David Maisel and Kevin Feige are supposedly locked up in meetings to try to resolve the issues and come to an “amicable solution.” Word is that even the rough cut of the film looks good, so it’s possible that they’re not far off. Meanwhile, Page Six in the New York Post is reporting that Norton has threatened not to do any publicity for the film if he doesn’t get his way. This would be damaging for everyone and everything–the film, the studio, and Norton. Then again, it is Page Six, not always a paragon of proportion and accuracy, so for all we know he might have just told Marvel that he couldn’t continue with the meetings until he had some coffee.
I’m rooting for Norton here. Sure, you can easily dismiss him as a control freak, or just another actor who’s let a little power go over his head. But you know that it’s always a studio’s instinct to put out a movie that will please as many and offend as few people as possible, which often results in a bland, generic product. I have to believe that this far along and with so much personally invested in the film, Norton’s got a specific vision that he’s trying to achieve and that usually makes a movie better. Or it makes it a complete, vanity project disaster, which in my mind is still better than a baby food smooth everything to everyone film, though you can be sure the studio would be damn happy with the latter if that’s what will rack up the most bucks domestically and internationally. After all, whether we like it or not, this is always about business, not art.
Nevertheless, good luck, Mr. Norton.