Supervising Dir. Talks What Makes PLANET HULK Unique

PLANET HULK Supervising Dir. Frank Paur

Frank Paur [second from the right], with [from left] Greg Johnson, Rick D. Wasserman, Blair Butler, Josh Fine, Paur and Jeph Loeb

Since the days of the ancient Egyptians to Diego Rivera, there is a great tradition among mural painters.

The master artist, the person whose name actually appears on the work, would pencil and maybe ink the initial outline of his work, and then have his/her apprentices move on in. Like comic book pencilers, the underlings would then fill in the numbers, doing the grunt work, completing the “broad strokes.” From there, the master returns to his project and finesses the final touches until it’s complete.

Master animator Frank Paur, whose resume includes TV series as diverse as Disney’s TaleSpin to X-Men evolution as well as films ranging from Batman: Mask of the Phantasm to Hulk Vs., works in a very similar manner.

“I’m the big picture,” Paur acknowledges. “When everyone else is through I will come in and finesse things. I’ll look over the timing, check the art direction and the composition. I also love to paint. Again, I paint in broad strokes and then let my artists fill in the details.

“That’s basically the same thing. Literally, I fall into a project, go over all the materials, throw out ideas about what would work and wouldn’t, then go over everything with a fine toothcomb. Then I’ll go over the comic to decide what shots will survive from the comic. I’ll catch the flavor, see what needs to be adjusted.

“After that, I start doing my own sketches, then handing them to everyone else. I’ll do set-ups, what I want to see. Those will go to Sam Liu, the director. Then they’ll take their pass on it. It’s the same thing with the music, voice artists and everything.”

Paur’s latest approach using this method is Planet Hulk, which was released direct-to-home-video this week. Yet even though it involves the same lead character as his previous work, Hulk Vs, Paur - who served as Supervising Director on the project - will also tell you it’s a very different film.

As discussed in Newsarama’s interview with scriptwriter Greg Johnson, that’s because the latest incarnation of the Hulk is very different from the last.

“That’s what really made it interesting for me,” he notes. “We had gone from doing the monster and childlike Hulk of Hulk Vs to a Hulk we had never really seen before, except in the comic books. He actually is someone much closer to the original Hulk by Stan and Jack. That’s kind of the idea. We can really get behind this character; see what makes him tick. That was both a challenge and made it fun. For me, it was very interesting to bring this character to life. Nobody else had done it. That’s what gets a lot of work out of me.

“The big thing about Planet Hulk is we really wanted you to feel you were on an alien planet. It’s just not a bunch of goofy buildings with a red sky. I really wanted you to feel the majesty of it, and everything I let happen fed into that.”

It even guided Paur’s decision to use new voice artist Rick Wasserman over Fred Tatasciore, who previously held the title of “Hulk for Life.”

“Rick brought a certain aspect to the Hulk that we hadn’t seen before in terms of the level he had to react to the other characters,” says Paur. “We felt Rick’s interpretation just worked better. Every movie has always been about what happens when the Hulk loses control. Well, with this one it’s personal. For instance, there’s that moment where he leaves the Warbound. It isn’t because he wants to be alone, it’s because he’s afraid he’s going to lose control and he might hurt them.”

Paur also admits working the D2D format is getting easier and easier.

“Actually, it’s not too difficult,” he said. “One of the advantages of the feature format is you can only spend so much time working out the character you want. They are far different things than a TV or comic book series. For instance, a TV series tends to be very episodic and tend to meander. They are more like unfolding novels. A feature really provides a lot of opportunities to just get in and bring everything to a nice climactic peak. For me, it’s very satisfying.

Open Invite to PLANET HULK Clip/Coverage
Open Invite to PLANET HULK Clip/Coverage
“Really, if you wanted a more true interpretation of a comic book, you’d have to do miniseries like they do in Japan. Then you can add in a lot of things you couldn’t do with a feature. It’s more like you’re creating a novel here. Right now it’s more just a cool idea, us thinking wouldn’t it be cool.

“Still, we focused just about everything on Hulk, which really was the spirit of the story. That’s part of the challenge. I feel it’s the best thing we’ve ever done…until you see Tales of Asgard [the next Marvel direct-to-home-video release, directed by Gary Hartle—ED]. I like that one the best. One thing that is really true is we get better with each show. We own bragging rights on that.”

As for Paur’s future? Even though there were comments of a World War Hulk release in discussion, he’s actually waiting to see the dust settle on the recently completed Disney/Marvel acquisition.

“It’s a little early to say yet,” he said. “The DVD just got released. If it goes well, I do see doing several generations of the Sekaar series. I’m still not an employee of Disney. I’m an employee of MEG. We’ll wait and see how the DVDs do, but I will admit I had a very good time when I worked at Disney, going back to Tale Spin and Gargoyles.”

In the meantime, fans will have this latest incarnation of the Hulk to keep them entertained.

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