One of the most well-known creations of comic book legends of Stan Lee and Jack Kirby from the '60s is that of The Incredible Hulk, one of the founding members of The Avengers. The Hulk is the rage-fueled alter ego of Dr. Bruce Banner and serves as Marvel's analog of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, and while he's most easily identifiable by his enormous size and green color, the Hulk wasn't always that way.
In fact, Stan Lee originally intended The Incredible Hulk to be grey in color but ink for comic printing presses made that difficult and his color was changed to the more vibrant green. Still, the grey color of Hulk remained in the lore, written into Marvel stories as another Hulk persona inside of Banner. Where green hulk was savage and uncontrollable, grey hulk was quite intelligent and later authors named this version "Joe Fixit." Fixit even wore fancy clothes while serving as a bruiser in Las Vegas. That Hulk may never exist in the movies, but this summer's Avengers: Age of Ultron almost introduced another version of Grey Hulk.
Just as Marvel's Avengers sequel kicked off the 2015 summer movie season so did its overwhelming marketing campaign which included a bevy of behind-the-scenes featurettes and interviews. In one of these, the Industrial Light & Magic special effects crew revealed that during the film's Hulkbuster sequence, the Hulk was going to turn grey as as result of Scarlet Witch messing with his mind.
I spoke with VFX supervisor Christopher Townsend about this revelation last week and asked how far the VFX teams got with designing the Marvel Cinematic Universe version of the Grey Hulk and how different he'd look and act.
Yeah. What Joss wanted to do was he said, “I wanted to have a Hulk that’s this berserker Hulk.” Berserker Hulk was this Hulk that Hulks out, was what we had come up with on set. And then we sort of started talking about, “Well what are those extremes?” And ILM started playing with a deformed body with a deformed face with one eye larger than another. You know, like crooked teeth, and drooling, and red eyes, and all this kind of stuff.
Then we started playing with color and we started to de-saturate him and give him sort of red around his eyes and made him look strung-out heroin addict Hulk was the idea. Sort of like where he has totally lost it and he’s gone totally crazy. And then we gradually tended towards a grayer and grayer version till effectively we got gray Hulk.
As it turns out, they knew exactly what they wanted but decided against it as to not confuse audiences.
We tried a few shots in the film with that sort of much grayer version. And then we’re thinking, “Will people confuse this with the gray Hulk from the comics? And is that a good thing or a bad thing?” Eventually, I think we backed off a little bit of that and made him greener so that…we didn’t want to confuse people in creating a new character, per se, in that way. So we ultimately backed off. But we had gone pretty extreme in the looks for him.
A monstrous Abomination-style, colorless Hulk - a version of the Hulk if he were to "Hulk Out" himself to another level - would have been quite the visual spectacle but then there would have been an easy way to write off the damage Banner caused in the story by blaming it on another creature. Townsend's point about whether or not they wanted to play with a twist on the Marvel Comics version of Grey Hulk is also a good one of course, especially given that those twists don't always play well with the Marvel faithful (see: Mandarin twist in Iron Man 3 vs. comics).
Any interest in seeing Joe Fixit or other Hulk characters in the Marvel Cinematic Universe or is one enough?
Marvel's Avengers: Age of Ultron releases September 8, 2015 for Digital 3D and Digital HD and October 2, 2015 for Digital SD, 3D Blu-ray Combo Pack (3D Blu-ray+Single Disc Blu-ray+Digital Copy), Blu-ray, DVD and On-Demand. Stay tuned for more from our chat with Chris Townsend!
Marvel Studios unleashes the next global phenomenon in the Marvel Cinematic Universe: Marvel’s Avengers: Age of Ultron. Good intentions wreak havoc when Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) unwittingly creates Ultron (James Spader), a terrifying A.I. monster who vows to achieve “world peace” via mass extinction. Now, Iron Man, Captain America (Chris Evans), Thor (Chris Hemsworth) and The Hulk (Mark Ruffalo)—alongside Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) and Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) —must reassemble to defeat Ultron and save mankind… if they can! This action-packed adventure is a must-own, mind-blowing blast!
Captain America: Civil War opens in theaters May 6, 2016; Doctor Strange – November 4, 2016; Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 – May 5, 2017; Spider-Man– July 28, 2017; Thor: Ragnarok – November 3, 2017; The Avengers: Infinity War Part 1 – May 4, 2018; Black Panther– July 6, 2018; Captain Marvel – November 2, 2018; The Avengers: Infinity War Part 2 – May 3, 2019; Inhumans – July 12, 2019.
Grey Hulk art by Alex E Quintero.