Get answers to your ''Hulk'' burning questions. Here's why the title is confusing, poodles can kill, and the big green guy always keeps his pants on

By Jeff Jensen and Liane Bonin
Updated June 30, 2003 at 04:00 AM EDT
The Hulk: ILM

The Hulk

  • Movie

If you’re like us, you’ll probably leave ”Hulk” pondering its many mysteries. While our puny human brains are still trying to figure out how a key character turns into a cloud of energy in the climax, we do have the skinny on some other hulking perplexities [Warning: Key plot points are revealed].

Is the title of this movie ”The Hulk” or ”Hulk”?
According to director Ang Lee (”Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon”), it’s simply ”Hulk.” Posters and promotional materials for the film confirm the one word title. ”We had a meeting about that,” Lee says. ”It’s also been ‘Incredible Hulk’ and ‘The Hulk.’ But in my language there is no ‘the,’ so of course I was in favor of ‘Hulk.”’ Still, chances are most people will be adding their own ”the” to the title, since the statement ”I’m going to see ‘Hulk”’ sounds a little too caveman for most of us.

How does puny human Bruce Banner keep his pants on when he turns into the super-size Hulk?
”We had lots of talks about it,” says visual effects supervisor Dennis Muren. ”We realized we couldn’t show his stuff, so we figured when he’s in a government immersion cell, those were military, stretchable pants. But earlier on, it was more difficult to rationalize. So we figured he just wears stretchy pants.” Banner does lose his boxers in one scene, but his Lycra blend isn’t to blame: Dogs rip his clothes off. If ever Dockers needed a spokesman, this is their guy.

Does that mean we get to see Bruce Banner naked?
Not for very long, but yes. ”I was naked in the woods when no one’s around,” says Eric Bana of his blink-and-you’ll-miss-it nude scene. ”And I can prove how much the crew loves me, because there were no photos on the Internet.”

What’s up with all those starfish?
The Hulk’s starfish motif is the result of director Ang Lee’s desire to hang some natural science on the Marvel Comics fantasy. ”Ang was interested in knowing, could this actually happen to a human being?” says producer Larry Franco. Hence, extensive research by an MIT scientist reeled in jellyfish that turn green, sea cucumbers that grow thick, hard skin, and starfish with regenerative powers — all attributes shared by The Hulk. If that sounds fishy, well…you’re right.

Dad David Banner (Nick Nolte) has a pack of snarly attack dogs. One of them looks like a poodle. What’s up with that?
The poodle in the pack made for a good joke, plus it was in James Schamus’ (”Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon”) script. ”It was funny! I think it looked more like a Doberman,” shrugs Lee, who used the beast to pay homage to a certain young artiste. ”The elongated ears it had were from my son’s drawing.” Fans won’t have much time to admire the creepy canine, however: The dog fight in the film was cut from its original 200 storyboards to a quick 60 for budgetary reasons.

General Ross (Sam Elliott) has a mighty sharp mustache. Real or CGI?
Elliott did the ‘stache handiwork himself, but he really would have preferred to shave. ”I wanted to wack it off, because four-star generals don’t have mustaches. That’s like a president in this day and age with a mustache,” says Elliott. ”But it’s an ode to Thunderbolt Ross in the comic books, so Ang wanted to hang on to that. Maybe that’s how he became a four-star general, because it’s such a good mustache.”

In the end, Banner disappears into the rain forests of South America. What’s next?
If there’s a sequel (a big if for a film that reportedly cost more than $150 million), look for some different kinds of Hulks that have appeared over the years, each with a distinct personality. ”There is a green Hulk. There is a gray Hulk. And then there is a Hulk that is a combination,” says producer Avi Arad. ”When you see ‘Hulk,’ you will think, ‘My God, I can go 10 different ways from the way this one ends!”’ If one of those ways could explain the cloud-of-energy thing, please let us know.

(Additional reporting by Scott Brown)

Episode Recaps

The Hulk

  • Movie
  • PG-13
  • 137 minutes
  • Ang Lee