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THE HULK

Comic Origins
In the beginning, there was the comic book—the launching pad for the Hulk—and filmmakers treated the character's origins as the Bible for all of the film's story, physical production and design decisions. The Marvel Comics style infused all aspects of The Hulk and influenced every choice—everything from lighting, camera angles, framing and transitional techniques to color choices, sound design and costuming. 

Like special effects supervisor Lantieri, production designer Rick Heinrichs tried to create a realistic environment, but his arena also allowed for degrees of fantasy and the influence of the comic book source material. This balance between reality and fantasy is familiar terrain for Heinrichs, who has collaborated with filmmaker Tim Burton on a majority of his films. 

"I liked his work and I think he is an artist,” Ang Lee says. "Most of all, I think for a movie like this, it was important for the production designer to have visual training and an animation background, which Rick has. He completely understood the sensibility of what we were trying to achieve.” 

"One of the things that interested me about Ang's work was his take on the Hulk. Ang seems to be a student of Western civilization. The way he interpreted that, visually, was fascinating. He wanted to investigate these iconic images of America because, for Ang, I think there was something very Western, very American about the Hulk—men and their repressed anger and all that. Also, he wasn't interested in going specifically in one direction or another—finding some equilibrium between apparent opposites attracted him. So, that was what we explored and it was quite a journey,” says Heinrichs. 

Of course, Heinrichs studied the Stan Lee/Jack Kirby comics, but this creative journey led him and Lee to a variety of other artists—from late 19th and early 20th Century American painters absorbing Impressionist and Oriental styles and colors, to the later Surrealist De Chirico, whose colors and illogical, dreamlike subjects attracted director and production designer. (What Heinrichs calls the De Chirico color palette appears predominantly in Bruce Banner's neighborhood and home.) 

Heinrichs notes, "De Chirico was a painter who mainly worked in Europe but there is a very Southwestern feel to his color palette—rusts, burgundies, yellows. There are some very strong hues and mellow ones mixed together and if you drive around the Berkeley Hills, you see this eclectic mix of colors. On our early scouts there, Ang would point out, ‘Hey, there's a De Chirico.'” 

Heinrichs favored another color combination—one used not only by Kirby, but by some of the earlier comic book illustrators. 

"We also looked to the comic book artists of the early period. We borrowed conceits begun by early illustrators in both their color selections and their concepts. For instance, typically, you'll see a lit sky with a darker landscape, but if you study the works of artist/illustrator George Herriman, he would frequently switch that to a black sky with a lit landscape. We used that idea in a scene in the bathroom. We had a very dark color up above but a very light green tile below. There was something about that exchange I just loved. It turns you on your head a little bit and it's part of that duality thing, that tension between the light and the dark, between the simple and complex, the expected and the unexpected,” he says. 

Heinrichs admits that the Hulk's signature colors also make appearances but, he hopes, not in an obvious way. Greens and purples were used as a nod to the comic book, and as a theme that follows Bruce Banner through his life. Also, the designer followed the director's dictate for reality, but with a certain amount of leeway, specifically with regard to the subterranean government base where the captured Hulk is taken. 

Given the secret

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