Ed Norton, Hulk Screenwriter

Posted on August 17, 2007

Everyone was pretty puzzled when Ed Norton talked at Comic-Con about how he had written the script for the upcoming Incredible Hulk film. After all, Norton is starring in the film as David Banner and the screenplay was written by Zak Penn. So what really happened? Who really wrote the screenplay? Was Ed Norton living up to his reputation of always wanting to rewrite his lines?

The L.A . Times investigated. and solved the mystery. The Times notes that Norton did substantial uncredited work on Frida. He also wrote script pages for Red Dragon.

In the case of "Hulk," after another writer's treatment was declined in early 2006, Marvel hired Penn, who wrote three drafts over a year. By spring 2007, Penn was about to go off to promote his movie "The Grand," but the studio and the director, Louis Leterrier ("The Transporter"), still felt that the screenplay needed work.

When Norton came in to meet about starring as Banner in April, the film had already been greenlighted and there were just three months before shooting was scheduled to begin, just after Independence Day. But Norton had well-established (if underground) writing experience and strong ideas about how to separate the film from any confusion over its connection to the 2003 Ang Lee version by casting it in a more distinct, starting-over vein like "Batman Begins" or "Casino Royale."

So Norton's initial deal included payment not just for his acting services but for his writing talents too, with his draft contractually stipulated to be turned around in less than a month. As it turned out, Norton delayed work on another screenplay job to do "Hulk," and he continues to tweak the script as principal photography hits its halfway point outside Toronto.

So, Norton did do a rewrite and he's also starring in the film. And as for his uncredited rewrites on Frida, well Salma Hayek was nominated for an Oscar for the lead in the film, so clearly he knows what he's doing. We like Ed Norton's acting and his writing. But we're still really puzzled as to why we need another Incredible Hulk movie. Because we barely made it through the Ang Lee version.

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