This afternoon, I had the pleasure of sitting down with writer-director Zak Penn to talk about his new film The Grand (which, in case you care, is currently my Tribeca fest favorite -- check out my review here), but we also spoke a little about X-Men and his work on The Incredible Hulk script. Let's get this right out the way; Penn is a real cool dude. I could tell that he really wanted to talk about Hulk, and I have to admit that the guy did his best to answer each and every one of my questions. Our conversation began by talking about whether Penn had tried to direct X-Men: The Last Stand after Bryan Singer dropped out. Since he only had one other project (as a director) under his belt, he knew that wasn't going to happen. However, he did talk about another deal that Fox had offered him: "I had been attached to direct one of the [X-Men] spin-offs; in fact, I'm in discussions about that now."
After I poked around a bit, Penn admitted that he was originally signed on to write and direct a "young X-Men film," but that's recently changed. Says Penn, "The original idea was to have me do a young X-Men spin-off, a spin-off of the young X-Men characters. But someone came up with a pretty interesting idea which I can't discuss. I was pretty taken by it, as was the studio. I have to give him credit, it was this guy who worked with me named Mike Chamoy -- he worked a lot with me on X3. He came up with how to do a young X-Men movie which is not what you'd expect. We'll see; I still have to talk to Fox, set the story down ... and then it will take a year -- maybe two years -- to get together. Put it this way, if you agree to do one of the X-Men movies, it could end up happening four or five years down the line. Which is fine with me; it's just not my focus right now."
As far as Hulk goes, Penn went into a lot of detail regarding his vision, and the way he approached the script. He squashed those gray Hulk rumors, saying Avi Arad "must have been mis-quoted," and there will not be a gray Hulk. And when I brought up further casting announcements, Penn said that we should be hearing some big news within the next few days. (Unfortunately, even though he had alcohol in his system, I couldn't get him to reveal any names.) Stay tuned to Cinematical, as we'll have a lot more with Zak Penn (including more X-Men and more Hulk) coming up later this week.