French director Louis Leterrier is the odd one out of Marvel Studios’ directors. The Incredible Hulk, starring Edward Norton (American History X), Liv Tyler (Lord of The Rings) and William Hurt (A History of Violence), is basically glossed over in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The production was fraught, especially with Norton’s reputation of being a backseat director, the temperamental star and his director clashing, as well as Marvel Studios’ constant deluge of notes on the film. Although 99 percent of studio meddling is irksome, in this case I would have to agree that an opening scene where a superhero attempts to commit suicide by jumping into the icy Arctic waters is not what most audiences want to see in their summer blockbusters. Although the film is part of the MCU, with a customary post-credit scene in which Tony Stark waltzes in to put General Ross in his place, people like to forget The Incredible Hulk exists, especially once the lovely human teddy bear Mark Ruffalo took over the mantle of the Hulk. The film’s box office technically wasn’t a disaster; released in June 2008, it made $263 million worldwide on a $150 million budget and received much better reviews than the Ang Lee (Brokeback Mountain) version of the Hulk from 2003, but due to the runaway success of Iron Man released only a month prior, The Incredible Hulk was swept under the rug, which was probably for the best.
He moved on from The Incredible Hulk’s troubled production to Clash of the Titans, a dual remake of the 1981 heroic fantasy classic/Michael Bay-sian bastardization of the Perseus myth with 1000000x MORE SPECIAL EFFECTS AND EXPLOSIONS. Starring Bland Man Sam Worthington (Avatar), Liam Neeson (Schindler’s List) and Ralph Fiennes (The Grand Budapest Hotel) and released in April 2010, the film was a financial success and made $493 million worldwide. However, the 2012 sequel Wrath of the Titans’ (which Leterrier did not direct) box office fell off a cliff and killed the would-be franchise. My classical mythology stan heart shriveled up and died after watching the trailer, but I will grudgingly admit that Clash of the Titans could be a decent watch for someone in the mood for a harmless, brainless, paint-by-numbers Hollywood film.
His follow up was the magician heist film Now You See Me, starring a better-than-expected cast of Jesse Eisenberg (The Social Network), Mark Ruffalo - oh the irony! (You Can Count On Me), Woody Harrelson (Zombieland), Melanie Laurent (Inglourious Basterds), Isla Fisher (Wedding Crashers), Dave Franco (Nerve), Michael Caine (Dirty Rotten Scoundrels) and Morgan Freeman (The Shawshank Redemption). It was an inexplicable summer hit in June 2013, making $351 worldwide on a $75 million budget - the kind of filmmaking Hollywood loooooves best. Now You See Me’s worldwide grosses, including the $22 million it made in China led the originally stand-alone film to be frankensteined by Lionsgate into a franchise, with the 2016 sequel still pulling in big foreign grosses but diminishing domestic returns. Once again, Leterrier did not return to direct the sequel.
Leterrier must have either hit his head, been high as a kite, or hypnotized by Sacha Baron Cohen (or a combination of all three?) to agree to direct Grimsby/The Brothers Grimsby, released March 2016. Starring Borat himself, Marc Strong (Welcome to the Punch) and Rebel Wilson (Pitch Perfect), the film was an unholy abomination of a spy film, which is quite a feat considering the rotting carcasses littering the genre. It made only $25 million worldwide on a $35 million budget, and only made $6 million domestically while garnering some of the worst, most scathing reviews of the year. What blackmail material did Leterrier and Cohen and have over poor Mark Strong to make him do this movie, or is he just a secret gross-out humor fan?
Verdict: 2/10. Directing the red-headed step-child of the MCU did nothing for Leterrier’s career. While he was on a decent roll post-Incredible Hulk having directed two dumb fun movies that made money, Grimsby was a Gigli-esque unfunny, unwatchable disaster of disgusting taste. As a white male, I’m sure Leterrier will be given another chance sooner rather than later, but right now he is deservedly in the director doghouse. He has been keeping his head down and licking his wounds, having directed the television series Tycoon for new streaming service Blackpills, and is set to direct The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance, the television sequel to Jim Henson’s animatronic cult classic The Dark Crystal (1982), for Netflix.