She-Hulk: Attorney at Law wrapped up its first season last month, but not before taking fans on a pretty wild journey. The live-action series chronicled the adventures of Jennifer Walters / She-Hulk (Tatiana Maslany), a lawyer-turned-superhero who tries to balance the two sides of her life. The show was chock-full of incredibly specific ties to Marvel lore, both connections to the comics and to the larger Hulk mythos. One of the most surprising was in the opening minutes of the Season 1 finale, which featured a shot-for-shot homage to the opening secrets of the original The Incredible Hulk television show.
As it turns out, Marvel Studios went to some pretty great lengths to bring the callback, utilizing VFX to modify original film scans from The Incredible Hulk to feature Maslany instead. While speaking to ComicBook.com about his work on She-Hulk, FuseFX supervisor Josh Galbincea shed some light on how that process came to be.
“Marvel actually got original film scans from the TV show,” Galbincea revealed. “And when we work on shots, we work on something called handles, which is the shot, first frame, and the last frame. But we work on extra frames outside of that, just in case they want to slip the edit a little bit. But for that sequence, we couldn’t, because they had film scans from the TV show, but the camera masters were long gone. So we worked in and out from the first frame to the last frame of that sequence, because that’s literally all they could pull from the scan. It was a one-to-one, shot-for-shot, frame-to-frame recreation of that. “
“[Marvel] provided us those film scans, obviously, in a digital working file,” Galbincea continued. “And there was a lot of work to do on it, because we preserved as much of the original film scan as we could. There’s a shot where Jen Walters — or, I should say, Bill Bixby’s Bruce Banner — is in the chair, and the chair is turning while he is looking at that old screen. We painted him completely out, and preserved as much as the original paint as we could. Then we had a shot of Jen Walters in the chair doing the same thing as Bruce Banner. We had to color grade, put her in, do a little bit of degradation to help it match that old ’70s film stock look. And then, because his hands are covering the control panel, we actually recreated that entire control panel in CG, so it matched where her hand placement was. Then we had to do a little bit of warping, a little bit of projection on 3D, to make it all fit and look photo-real.”
As Galbincea revealed, this strategy was used throughout that opening sequence — and it ultimately ended up being a highlight for him and the team to work on.
“There’s a shot where Lou Ferrigno was flipping the car, and we painted him out and then put the bodybuilder standing in for She-Hulk,” Galbincea added. “It was really cool to just be a whole part of that thing, and to see it come together. And even the voiceover, the old school, raspy voiceover. It was just so cool to be a part of that and to see it come together. We loved it, and I know Marvel loved it. It was just awesome.”