Superherohype and Aintitcool are both reporting today that Tim Blake Nelson has been cast to play the role of Samuel Sterns in next Summer’s The Incredible Hulk. I imdb’ed the guy and I am honestly not familiar with anything he’s done. But he looks the part. “What part,” you ask? Well, in my opinion, the greatest Hulk villian second only to the Abomination…the Leader.
Who is the Leader? Well, in the comics, Samuel Stern was a custodial engineer (read janitor) in a chemical research plant. He was an ordinary guy of average or below average intelligence. While working, (one fateful day) he accidentally became bombarded with gamma radiation. Unlike the super intelligent Bruce Banner who turned into the raging green giant we all know and love as the Hulk, Sterns’ only side effect was that his brain began to grow. With the brain growth came green skin and super intelligence.
Instead of using his intelligence for the benefit of mankind, Sterns took on the name “Leader” and began his bid for world dominance. He seemed to constantly find himself stopped by the Hulk. This led to an obsession with vengeance on the Hulk. Throughout his career as a villian, the Leader has lost his intelligence, stole the gamma that Rick Jones had been infected with to regain it (changing his appearance from the cone head look to the Jiffy Pop head looke), used the dead body of General Thadeus “Thuderbolt” Ross as one of his servants, created a small army of gamma spawned thugs, been the head of a hidden cult-like community of people with incurable diseases, and even died. More recently, he has been taken into custody by S.H.I.E.L.D. in their quest for super powered beings.
This casting excites me not because of the actor, but because of the character. According to what’s been reported, the role is not that of a janitor, but a scientist. I doubt that in “The Incredible Hulk” we will get to see Sterns changed into the Leader, but even if this is just a nod to the comics for the fans, it’s more than what was done in Ang Lee’s angst/repressed memory driven version of the Jade Giant. Due to the fact that Iron Man has already wrapped initial shooting, and knowing that this Hulk movie is going to have to rely heavily on digital effects, AND knowing what’s come before, I refuse to get too excited right now, but all signs are pointing toward the movie makers attempting to make not only a GOOD movie, but a fun one as well. With the casting of roles like this, they are also obviously looking at sequels. Now, bring on the U-Foes, She-Hulk, and maybe one day (Even though the Fantastic Four is currently held by Fox) an on screen battle with the Thing! Oh, and in case Stan Lee were to stumble across this blog…Make Mine Marvel. (Until The Dark Knight is released.)