A while back I did some coverage on the HULK film. Now the script I had for some reason had a Mike France credit, but I have been informed that the INCREDIBLY cool script was written by John Turman.
Actually I have now read three separate drafts of the HULK script.
The first was the John Turman draft. If I could wave a wand, this is the one I would choose to go with. It is not camp, it is loyal to the material, and it DID NOT FEEL DATED. It was exciting and fresh. It involved Banner, General Thunderbolt Ross and Betty, and Rick Jones, Leader, The Hulk. It does everything that a HULK film should. All of you would die to see this film on the screen.
The second was a Zack Penn draft. Totally different, but still really really good. A combination of the comic and the television series. It has some of the other characters, but in my opinion it handled the introduction of the HULK the best. I could sense the awe that the Hulk would strike in us. A fairly cool Hulk vs a bunch of sharks (poor sharks). In my opinion the characters are "fleshed" out over the Turman Draft. However, That first draft is the one that should be seen on screen.
Then the third Hulk Script was Jonathon Hensleigh's draft. Rotten load of ostrich malarkey. It fulfills nothing. Now sure I told you they were doing a rewrite, by the guys that brought us ED WOOD, but it turns out that was just to beef up the characters a bit. However, personally using a rotten dead script as a foundation is sure to bring the project down. Now casting has begun on the HULK, and they are casting the bad guys and the girl. Personally, this strikes fear into me. But then why am I not surprised. Universal brought us KULL THE CONQUEROR and DRAGONHEART as their big summer films these past couple of years.
My agents in Universal's hierarchy tell me that many people at the studio wanted to go with Turman's draft, but... decided to allow Jonathon Hensleigh to write. Remember when I told you the news about Christopher McQuarrie directing ALEXANDER THE GREAT? Well, that was by a first time writer. He didn't rewrite it, or take it over, he used that writer. I complimented him on having the lack of "ego" to direct somebody else's script as his first project. Wellllllllllllllllllll, I have the opposite to say here about Hensleigh's attitude about the HULK film. Here was a case of someone given a chance to direct a GIGANTIC Hollywood film even though he doesn't seem to understand the character at all.
He took the soul out of the Hulk. My people at Marvel tell me that Turman slaved away on 8 different drafts, all of which were at least 5 grades above the Hensleigh. But you see Turman is a struggling "no-namer" without a lot of credits. In the cut throat world of Hollywood, Turman is the guy who writes the drafts that get people interested. The drafts that capture the readers imagination and makes people say, "Shit yeah, I'll blow $100 million making this." But then along comes all the new money men, and shift of execs at Universal, a hot shot writer and lo and behold... Poof! Turman is swept away into a corner. And so goes a great Hulk movie.
Now you won't hear anything about Turman's or Penn's drafts. Hensleigh will do interviews in comic magazines, where he talks about everything he felt he could bring to the character and the myth. IT's BULL!!! The HULK is a project, which gets me all giddy. A fave character. But MARVEL's media department is so desperate to get a "BIG" movie in production that they won't speak up. Universal has seemed to be picking fairly ill advised BIG films (Lost World doesn't count).
Now I happen to generally like Hensleigh's scripts. SHOCK GASP CHOKE. I really like his draft on ARMAGEDDON, but I do prefer the revisions by Tony Gilroy and Jeffrey Abrams. They brought more "humanity" to the characters, and got rid of alot of the "goofy" elements.
When I was in LA alot of professionals asked me what I thought Hollywood could do better. Well here ya go...
I love early drafts. They have heart, wonder and originality. They haven't been ruined by committee. A good example is the Waterworld script, the first draft is very very good. The shooting script is a mess. The number one problem is over-development of the scripts, trying to hone them to perfection, going from writer to writer. Each step a step away from the draft that made you want to make a movie.
The draft you read that got all you at GALE ANNE HURD and UNIVERSAL and MARVEL excited had Rick Jones, Betty Ross, Thunderbolt Ross and the Leader; a kick- ass origin sequence with a gamma bomb countdown that still gives me shivers to think about; and a Bruce Banner that had a genuine fear of turning into the Hulk and hurting someone; well, then you read the John Turman script.
As for you current UNIVERSAL execs, realize this... The current group of execs at SONY inherited the highly profitable group of films that have been being released this year. The Turman draft is a similar inheritance. I know the plan is to go ahead with the HULK in APRIL. STOP IT.
If you are trying to get it ready for next summer realize that a crappy half-assed Hensleigh version won't be worthy of Lucas' next Star Wars film, and Brian Singer's X-MEN film that July 4th.
I don't mean to be the bearer of bad news to you Universal types, but don't be fooled by Hensleigh's prior film credits. He can do wrong. He can also be good. His script is not good. Call a meeting and HONESTLY look at his script next to Zack Penn's and John Turman's respective drafts. It's a pretty easy decision.
Thanks to spies... (Rick Jones, Prince Namor, The Reynolds Wrap Surfer, and finally THE WATCHER!!!