In 2011, Marvel relaunched Daredevil with Mark Waid as writer, bringing the character away from some of the darker elements he's been known for over the years, and focusing instead on a Matt Murdock able to have a little fun. It's become a fan-favorite series and one of the publisher's most notable critical successes over the past year — winning three Eisner awards last month at Comic-Con International: San Diego — and Marvel is likely looking to replicate that success with the November-debuting Indestructible Hulk, the new main Hulk title launching in the midst of the Marvel NOW! era, with Waid writing and his Superman: Birthright collaborator Leinil Yu illustrating. The book, taking Incredible Hulk's place in Marvel's publishing line after that book wraps in October, sees Hulk working with S.H.I.E.L.D. and coming a bit more to grips with the duality that has defined the character for 50 years. Newsarama talked with Waid to learn his take on the Bruce Banner/Hulk dynamic, discuss the similarities between his approach and Mark Ruffalo's big-screen Avengers Hulk, and also get the writer's thoughts on the live-action Daredevil rights returning to Marvel. Newsarama: Mark, though you've acknowledged that you never thought you'd want to write Hulk before it was offered, how much of a fan have you been of the character over the years? Which Hulk runs have you particularly admired? And, though it's clear you're looking to do something new, are there any past eras of the character that you see as similar to the type of aesthetic that you're going for?
Mark Waid: I came in during the [Steve] Englehart era, drawn in to find out what happened to Warlock after the cancellation of his first series, but it was the Len Wein/Herb Trimpe run that hooked me. I’m not drawing anything specific from that — I have a pretty good hunch how “Crackajack” Jackson would play nowadays — but I’m noting it for the record. We’re actually trying hard not to echo anyone else’s aesthetic, because that just becomes karaoke.
Nrama: What are your thoughts on the Bruce Banner/Hulk dynamic? You're coming from Jason Aaron's run, where he literally split them in two. Do you see them as distinctly different entities and personalities? Or perhaps a little more connected and compatible; sides of the same coin — kind of like in Peter David's "merged Hulk/smart Hulk" era?
Waid: I think a gamma-irradiated brain that quite literally changes size regularly and lives inside a skull that’s been punched by Thor has got to be a pretty resilient organ, second only to Mr. Fantastic’s in elasticity. So I think there’s room for a bunch of different Hulks in there, but I’m of the belief that all of them mirror Banner in some way.
When taking on any assignment like this with any sort of history, I find the best thing I can do is to return to core principles immediately and then branch out from there. Stan and Jack sounded the note that we’re hitting — Hulk is Banner’s rage unfettered, simply put.
Nrama: It seems that a goal of many Marvel NOW! titles is putting the title hero in unfamiliar situations, which is similar to what you've already been doing in Daredevil. In that regard, would you say that you're finding Hulk to be a more versatile character than some might expect? Does he work in just about any kind of story — or at least ones we haven't yet seen him in?
Waid: When you fold Banner into the mix, he absolutely does. In fact, I accept your veiled challenge to do a murder mystery in the pages of Hulk sometime this year. Because the Hulk is so tough and such a survivor, he does have a very wide range. Big, bombastic tales for the green giant, smaller, more personal stories for Banner. Let’s try that.
Nrama: It looks like Hulk is also going to be facing some unconventional threats, including Frost Giants and Kang the Conqueror. Though that has to be a fun task for a writer, how much of a challenge was it to find villains that a) could stand up as credible threats against the Hulk, and b) haven't really had much history with him in the past 50 years?
Waid: Surprisingly, both were shockingly easy to come across when I put my mind to it. I did, as with Daredevil, want to (at least initially) stay away from the predictable bad guys — Leader, Abomination, and so forth — but that’s less about them and more about the (partial) mission statement of the book — to take advantage of Hulk’s physical durability by sending him out in the Marvel Universe to retrieve things for Banner’s research, things that can be found (say) only in the Microverse or Jotunheim or Lemuria. And that leads us to some unfamiliar but badass threats.
Nrama: The Hulk has had a long history on film and TV, and most recently he was the biggest scene-stealer of the third highest-grossing movie of all time. You've noted that your pitch was in before Avengers came out, but when writing, do you find yourself tapping into a similar vibe? It sounds like the approaches to the character are similar — a Hulk who wants to be Hulk.
Waid: They’re very similar, thank God — in retrospect, it made it easier to sell some of the more offbeat elements of my pitch, though I didn’t know that at the time.The real similarity between “our” Banner and [Mark] Ruffalo's Banner is not so much that he wants to be the Hulk as much as that he wonders if maybe resisting the Hulk so much is the best use of his time. You’ll see more what I mean as you read the first issue.
Nrama: In associating Hulk with S.H.I.E.L.D., you're adding Maria Hill as a co-star in the book, another element from outside of the Hulk's usual social circles. What do you like about the character, and what can you say about the dynamic between the two leads?
Waid: Maria’s great. It’s good to have a face for S.H.I.E.L.D. that isn’t Nick or, God help us, Jasper Sitwell or Dum-Dum Dugan. And the dynamic tension between Banner and Hill defines exactly what I like about her — she’s a control freak charged with overseeing the least predictable creature in the world. And our “new” Banner, with more of a sense of humor about himself and his condition, loves playing with her like a cat with a ball of yarn.
Nrama: One final question that's away from the topic of Hulk, but given recent news seems worth asking — it looks like the live-action rights to Daredevil might be returning to Marvel very soon. As the writer of the current Daredevil series, do you have any thoughts on what you might like to see from a potential film or TV take on Matt Murdock, produced in-house at Marvel?
Waid: I’d love to see it as a TV series rather than a movie, if given the choice — I think it’s tailor-made for an adult crime show, particularly now that we’ve clearly defined Matt and Foggy’s legal practice as advisors and coaches to those who choose to represent themselves in court for whatever reason. Get Central Casting on the line and find me a David Duchovny who can fight like Jet Li!More from Newsarama:
- INDESTRUCTIBLE HULK Smashes in Leinil Yu Art Debut
- Marvel Comics' FULL November 2012 Solicitations NOW!
- Aaron Wraps HULK, Takes WOLVERINE & THE X-MEN to Year Two