Leterrier’s dream: An ‘Avengers’ epic told in four films over one summer
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I visited the set of “Clash of the Titans” at Longcross Studios in Surrey, England, a few days ago and interviewed some of the stars (Sam Worthington and Alexa Davalos among them) and sat down for a long chat with director Louis Leterrier. The bulk of that interview will appear later in the Los Angeles Times Calendar section but, just for you Hero Complex readers, I also used some of the time to get an update on Leterrier’s Marvel Universe plans.The 36-year-old director of ‘The Incredible Hulk’ didn’t sound like he wanted to revisit the green goliath -- but he did share an audacious idea of bringing the Avengers to the screen in four interlocking movies by four different directors that would be released over one summer.
GB: I met Gale Ann Hurd at a producer conference in Los Angeles not long ago and she mentioned the plan to move forward with a sequel to your film “The Incredible Hulk.” Is that something you would be doing?
LL: Well, so far, no. I am contracted to do one more film with Marvel so when I’m done here with this I will go back to say to them, “Guys you need me? Is there something I can do?”
GB: Perhaps “The Avengers” film then?
LL: I would love to do the Avengers film. I’d love to work with Marvel again. I loved working with them. I like Kevin Feige, he’s a good guy and a fan. I love him. I feel really good at Marvel because they are people my age who are obsessed with movies and comic books. We talk about the same things. And they are not the nerd army – they like when you change something [away from Marvel canon] if there’s a good reason, they’re open to new things. Kevin is smart about movies and he takes risks. I would work with him tomorrow. But it has to be the right project.
GB: Were you happy with the Hulk movie?
LL: Hulk was such a challenge. It was to reboot something and follow [the Ang Lee-directed 2003 “Hulk”] movie that was absolutely adored by part of the fan population and then absolutely hated by another part. It was complicated for me. I wasn’t sure what to do with that history. I did my Hulk but it was not easy. If I do another Hulk film it will always be compared to the Ang Lee thing, and my first one … if I come back I’d love to do another superhero, something different that I can really put my touch on.
GB: Well do a bit of daydreaming; which characters would appeal to you most?
LL: Well frankly I’d love to do the Avengers. But there are so many great ones in the Marvel world. I would have loved to have done “Iron Man,” that is an amazing character. And it’s all because of Kevin – finding Jon [Favreau, the director] to do that movie, there were people that were surprised. They asked, “Why Jon?” And look at the result. I talked to Marvel about “Thor” at one point but I didn’t want to do Thor. It wasn’t something I read growing up, really, it wasn’t one of the books I loved. Now the new stuff, the [J. Michael] Straczynski stuff, that is great. But before you get to that you have to go back to the old stuff, the genesis and that’s not what I wanted to do. Captain America I love and that would be great but, c’mon, a Frenchman doing Captain America? They would burn my passport.
GB: Well you would have certainly created an authentic Batroc…
LL: [Laughs] Yes, yes that is right. I have seen some of the design work they’re doing for Captain America and it looks amazing. It’s a period piece and it’s like “Raiders of the Lost Ark” and with more gadgets...
GB: Well that makes sense, I know Feige and his team turned to Joe Johnston because of his art direction work on “Raiders” and the fact that he directed “The Rocketeer.”
LL: Yes, exactly, so it’s “Raiders” meets ‘Rocketeer” and “Saving Private Ryan.” It’s going to be so cool.
GB: There are so many Marvel films I’d like to see and they’d be a bit deeper into the mythology. I’d like to see a Silver Surfer and Mephisto film, or Guardians of the Galaxy or perhaps Iron Fist, if done right..
LL: There are so many. A different Fantastic Four would be great, too. You know, you asked about my dream, I’ll tell you my real dream: To work with Joe Johnston and [“Thor” director] Kenneth Branagh and Jon Favreau and make like a triptych. We do four movies. We release them one a month for the summer. Or even every two weeks or three weeks. And the whole summer would be Avengers summer. So we do it the way they make television shows. One story arc but told in installments by different directors. So all of the directors that touch part of the Avengers world would do a part; we could make the movies shorter, maybe less than an hour and a half, and we use the same sets and save Marvel money. I would love to sit around a table with all of them a kick around the story. That’s my dream.
GB: That’d be very interesting if you told a massive story, like the Kree-Skrull War … it also would tap into the comics tradition of cliffhangers and episodic storytelling. But it would also be a pretty massive budget for Marvel, a studio that is still fairly new and locked into a release schedule that will help it keep its shareholders happy.
LL: I think the main thing is coming up with different ways of doing things. People will get bored seeing the same superhero movie every summer. If we change the concept and package it differently, then we do something really original then people get excited. I also like the cooperation, I love working with someone. When we were doing “The Incredible Hulk” and “Iron Man” was going on, there was something really cool about that. It was like being part of a team.
GB: A sort of campus ethos…
LL: Yes, precisely, a campus feel and with Kevin as the headmaster. I’d like to be part of that again...
-- Geoff Boucher
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CREDITS: Louis Leterrier at the Four Seasons Hotel -- Los Angeles Times. Leterrier on the set of ‘Incredible Hulk’ -- Michael Gibson/Universal-Marvel Studios.