‘Incredible Hulk’ reboots franchise

Kevin Feige answers questions about new film

The Incredible Hulk” doesn’t sound like a sequel, but of course that’s exactly what it is. It’s the second movie to feature the green behemoth otherwise known as one of Marvel Comics’ most-popular characters, second only to Spider-Man.

However, the box office of Ang Lee’s 2003 “Hulk” told a different story. Not only did it underwhelm with a $132 million domestic box office, a movie without a single “Hulk smash!” left a lot of fans frustrated and unsatisfied.

So for people unsure of what to expect this time out, here’s the answers to a few basic questions:

Is this is a sequel to the last “Hulk” movie or what?

No, it’s more of a reboot.

“Ang Lee explored one percent of the Hulk mythos: Bruce Banner’s childhood and the trauma that allowed this creature that burst forth,” says Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige. “We wanted to explore the other 99 percent.”

Of course, Edward Norton has replaced Eric Bana as Bruce Banner. But “TIH” starts out with Banner on the run in Latin America, just as he was when last seen at the end of the 2003 movie. And the second film sets out to be not so much a sequel as a merger of the comic book and TV series versions of the Hulk.

From the TV series, look for the idea of Bruce Banner as a man on the run, forever searching for a cure. Also look for glimpses of an origin story close to what TV fans remember: Banner in a big lab chair, getting dosed with gamma rays.

From the comics, there’s the return of Banner’s love Betty Ross, played by Liv Tyler. William Hurt plays her father, Gen. Thunderbolt Ross, the Army man obsessed with capturing the Hulk. “He’s Ahab and Hulk is the whale,” says producer Gale Ann Hurd, “You’ll see in the movie little nods to that.”

Do we get a full-on villain for Hulk to fight this time?

Do we ever. Tim Roth, known for his intense performances in indie dramas, joins in as Emil Blonsky, a.k.a. the Abomination.

Roth says that the movie’s Blonsky is “a special ops guy, late on his career, who ends up on a mission to capture this scientist. Which doesn’t seem like it should be that difficult and becomes very difficult. “And then he catches a glimpse of something that’s otherworldly, and goes in pursuit of that.”

Blonsky volunteers for a transformation similar to Banner’s — but when things go wrong, only the Hulk can save the day. Along the way, Banner will have to come to terms with the idea that this thing inside him may not be all bad after all.

Do I finally get to hear a good “Hulk smash!” or what?

Yes. After five TV seasons, several TV movies and the first feature, Hulk will speak. (Yeah, he had a line in the Ang Lee film, but it was a dream.)

Hulk’s verbal skills and intelligence have varied in the comics, but he’s never been as mute as the TV version. So it’s a little ironic that TV Hulk Lou Ferrigno will give voice to the Hulk in this film.

Producer Gale Ann Hurd says Ferrigno was a last-minute addition to a panel on the movie at New York’s Comic-Con. Director Leterrier invited him to “audition” onstage.

“Lou did this amazing, ‘Hulk smash!’ ” says Hurd. “And (director Louis Leterrier) said, ‘Come in, we’ll record you next week.’ Everybody thought it was either a staged event or we wouldn’t really do it. But the next week Lou came in in L.A. and his voice is the voice of the Hulk.”

What’s the buzz?

This movie wasn’t hyped as much as “Iron Man” or “The Dark Knight,” but it has a chance to be what Ang Lee’s 2003 “Hulk” movie was not: A fun summer diversion.

Leterrier, previously best known for the “Transporter” films, should shift the focus off psychology and onto action, making the film more of a crowd-pleaser.

The makers of the film like to compare “TIH” to 1983’s “Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan.” The first film proved there’s an audience, but left fans mostly unsatisfied. The second film gave fans what they wanted, made lots of money and launched a movie and TV franchise that isn’t done 25 years later.

That’s the hope for “TIH.” Give the fans what they want and they’ll turn the film into– dare we say it — a… smash.