Talk about a dream pairing for film and TV sci-fi/comic book fans: Guillermo del Toro, the mastermind behind Pan’s Labyrinth and the Hellboy movie franchise, and Battlestar Galactica executive producer David Eick are finalizing a deal to create the new TV series version of The Hulk for ABC, which is being produced by Marvel TV and ABC Studios. It will mark Marvel’s first series project for ABC and ABC Studios since Disney’s acquisition of Marvel last year and the launch of Marvel’s TV division in June. It also marks del Toro’s first TV project. Details of the premise are sketchy but I hear that the series will follow an origin story. In it, physicist Bruce Banner, whose alter ego is the green and raging Hulk, will be in his mid-twenties, less reactive and more energized as the world is still his oyster. Unlike the two Hulk movies, in which the monster was a pure CGI creation, the series will employ a mixture of prosthetics, puppetry and CGI. Del Toro and Eick will break the story for the pilot script together, sharing story and created by credit. Eick will write the script, with del Toro attached to direct subject to his availability. Del Toro will also oversee the designing of the Hulk character, which is expected to draw on previous comic book incarnations, as well as the original 1978-82 Incredible Hulk TV series, with a few wild tweaks on the old look. Because the project is still in its nascent stage and will require a lot of prep work, it won’t be ready for next fall consideration. I hear that Marvel is looking to launch the series following the July 2012 release of The Avengers, which features the Hulk character, so the series will probably be targeted for fall 2012. Del Toro and Eick are executive producing the project with Del Toro’s manager/producing partner Gary Ungar of Exile, Marvel TV topper Jeph Loeb and Marvel Entertainment’s chief creative officer Joe Quesada. “I have always been attracted at the combination of comic book heroics and monsters, Jack Kirby’s Demon or Kamandi or DC’s Deadman or Marvel’s Dr. Strange, Morbius, Metamorpho, Mike Mignola’s Hellboy, etc,” Del Toro said. He said that The Hulk has been at the top of his list and he first pursued it as a feature film around the time of the 2002 release of Blade II, which he directed. Del Toro added that, with partner Eick “we coalesced a respectful but powerful way of retelling the Banner/Hulk story in a fresh way.”
Marvel TV identified The Hulk as a property they wanted to pursue for a TV series in the summer and, along with ABC Studios, launched a search for a writer to pen the adaptation. Eick, who is under a blind script deal at ABC Studios, floated the idea of a Hulk series to Del Toro, whom he has known for awhile. Separately, ABC Studios had been chasing del Toro ever since Patrick Moran landed at the studio as head of drama in July. As a drama development executive at 20th TV, Moran signed del Toro to his only previous TV deal, a first-look pact at the studio. Shortly after their original conversation, WME-repped Eick and del Toro met and began discussing a Hulk series. Then, they pitched their idea simultaneously to ABC, ABC Studios and Marvel TV, and the pitch was very well received across-the-board.
Eick, creator/executive producer of Battlestar Galactica’s Blood & Chrome spinoff that was recently picked up to pilot at Syfy, has been involved in several series that re-imagened popular properties/characters, including Battlestar Galactica, Bionic Woman and Hercules: The Legendary Journeys. “I’ve enjoyed the challenging, rewarding process of revisiting beloved characters,” he said. Eick called The Hulk “one of the crown jewels of the Marvel world for generations” ans said it was a “dream opportunity to join one of my all-time filmmaking heroes, Guillermo del Toro, in a faithful but unique retelling of the primal, emotionally-rich tale of one of my all-time comic book.”