Box office grosses for the movie of The Hulk seem to be plunging this weekend. This alone will probably do nothing to diminish
the number of movies based on comic books. The prevailing belief will merely be that audiences wanted desperately to see a movie based on a favored
comic book character...but that they just heard that this particular one didn't do justice to the property. It will probably also become conventional
wisdom that the main thing that went wrong with the film was that the C.G.I. Hulk looked too much like a special effect. (I am basing this on
Industry Buzz. I haven't seen the movie.) Some day, a couple of these films will tank almost immediately and that will greatly diminish the studios'
interest in doing them...but not if they're going to keep opening strong and then dropping.
Folks keep asking me how I think Jack Kirby would have felt about the movie. Some presume that he would have been thrilled to see "his
vision" reproduced so faithfully on the screen, especially since it's been acknowledged as such in so many reviews. Speculating on what Jack would
have thought about something is risky since his thought process was often three steps ahead of reality. There were times I would have assumed Jack
would react one way to a given situation and he would actually react in another, owing to the fact that he was looking at a much bigger picture than
I could ever envision. I know I sometimes sound like the proverbial scratched record on this, but I continue to be amazed at how adept Kirby was at
foreseeing the future. A lot of his statements that seemed unreal and off-center twenty years ago now seem a lot closer to actually occurring...and
many already have. The Comic-Con in San Diego, for instance, has turned into exactly what Jack predicted back when it was attracting 3000 people and
was only about comics.
All that said, I think I can say with some certainty that Jack would have resented the hell out of all these movies if they meant a lot
of people making tons of money off Kirby work...with little or none of it going to anyone named Kirby. Jack was a Depression-era kid who believed
that nothing was more important than providing for your family. When others spoke of doing work in the Kirby tradition and/or incorporated little
mentions of his name in tribute, he was usually moved by the gesture but quite resentful when the project in question sent no bucks his way but
megabucks to those retooling his work. If Jack were still with us and everything else was the same, he would be justifiably furious that the Hulk
movie and allied merchandising are making millions for so many people who had nothing to do with the concept, design, creation, etc.
But if we're going to play "What If?" here, we need to remember that if Jack hadn't died in 1994 — My God, it's been that
long — everything else would not be the same. Someone at Marvel, I'd like to think, would have seen both the moral and financial sense
in offering Jack real money as a consultant of some sort. If they hadn't, someone else would have. Stan Lee has been quite skilled — and I mean
this only as a compliment — at turning his status as co-creator of the key Marvel properties into both an active participation in film projects
and a credit that gets him other, non-Marvel deals. I'd like to think something similar would have befallen Kirby, and he certainly saw that as a
possibility. His battles with Marvel over credit were at least in part because he knew that being hailed as "co-creator of the Hulk" (or Fantastic
Four or Thor or any of a few dozen others) had a financial value and that it could serve as the pension he never received directly from them. Alas,
the company he helped build rarely acknowledged this during his lifetime — not on the Hulk live-action TV show, not on the Hulk
cartoon show, not even in the Hulk comic books.
He gets, I'm told, a credit on the movie and I think that's great. But one of the many reasons I don't want to see the movie is that I
don't want to find myself leaping to my feet and yelling at the screen, "Why couldn't you have given him that when it could have done him some