With The Incredible Hulk movie set to hit movie theaters on June 13th, NBC’s American Gladiators is serving up a special tribute. Those who tune in tonight will see a special preview of the movie, a special green version of the Los Angeles Sports Arena, spectators sporting Hulk hands and masks, and gladiator Titan will be all made up to look like the big green guy. Best of all, they’ll also see TV’s original green giant, Lou Ferrigno.
As you probably know, Ferrigno played the title character in The Incredible Hulk live-action television series. His gentle alter ego, Dr. David Bruce Banner, was played by TV series veteran Bill Bixby. Dr. Banner was constantly trying to cure himself of his alter-ego problem, control his temper, and dodge nosey reporter Jack McGee (Jack Colvin).
The series ran for five seasons, from 1977 until 1982. Three TV movies followed in 1988, 1989, and 1990. The third Hulk movie culminated with the lead character dying. Strangely enough, there were plans for additional TV movies but they never came to fruition, likely because of Bixby’s death from cancer in November 1993. Colvin died in December 2005.
Though that version of the comic book character came to an end, Ferrigno has continued to be associated with the Hulk character. In addition to enduring the obligatory Hulk jokes, he voiced the green one in an episode of 1995’s Fantastic Four cartoon and 1996’s The Incredible Hulk animated series. Then, in 2003’s live-action Hulk movie, the bodybuilder appeared in a cameo role as a security guard (alongside Hulk co-creator Stan Lee). Ferrigno will play a guard once again in the upcoming The Incredible Hulk movie when he blocks Dr. Banner (Edward Norton) from entering a lab.
The new film’s director, Louis Leterrier, has said that he drew inspiration from the many incarnations of the green monster over the years — including the TV series. He’s included a silent nod to Bixby by including a scene from the actor’s 1960s series, The Courtship of Eddie’s Father.
Leterrier also publicly asked Ferrigno to voice the CGI version of the monster in the new movie. It will mark the first time that a live-action Hulk will speak both grunts and actual words. Producer Kevin Feige tells Variety, “Hulk’s verbal skills and intelligence have varied in the comics, but he’s never been as mute as the TV version. So it’s a little ironic that TV Hulk Lou Ferrigno will give voice to the Hulk in this film.” Ironic and fitting. Stay tuned!