EW Staff
June 27, 2003 AT 04:00 AM EDT

If you’re like us, you’ll probably leave The Hulk pondering its many mysteries. While our puny human brains are still trying to figure out how a key character turns into a cloud of energy in the climax, we do have the skinny on some other hulking perplexities. — Jeff Jensen, with additional reporting by Scott Brown

Okay, what’s up with all those starfish? The Hulk’s starfish motif is the result of director Ang Lee’s desire to hang some natural science on the Marvel Comics fantasy. ”Ang was interested in knowing, could this actually happen to a human being?” says producer Larry Franco. Hence, extensive research by an MIT scientist reeled in jellyfish that turn green, sea cucumbers that grow thick, hard skin, and starfish with regenerative powers — all attributes shared by The Hulk. If that sounds fishy, well…you’re right.

Having The Hulk fight some hulked-out canines is cool. But a French poodle!? The script called for The Hulk to battle three mutated dogs. Dissatisfied with initial designs for the killer canines, Lee asked his art-school-bound teenage son, Haan, to take a crack. ”The one everyone liked was the poodle,” says Lee. ”He has a good deformity.”

In the end, Banner disappears into the rain forests of South America. What’s next? If there is a sequel (a big if for a film that reportedly cost more than $150 million), look for some different kinds of Hulks that have appeared over the years, each with a distinct personality. ”There is a green Hulk. There is a gray Hulk. And then there is a Hulk that is a combination,” says producer Avi Arad. ”When you see The Hulk, you will think, ‘My God, I can go 10 different ways from the way this one ends!”’ If one of those ways could explain the cloud-of-energy thing, please let us know.

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