The Incredible Hulk (2008)

“Remember those experiments we volunteered for at Harvard? Those induced hallucination? It's a lot like that, just a thousand times amplified. It's like someone poured a liter of acid into my brain.”“Remember those experiments we volunteered for at Harvard? Those induced hallucination? It's a lot like that, just a thousand times amplified. It's like someone poured a liter of acid into my brain.”

“Remember those experiments we volunteered for at Harvard? Those induced hallucination? It’s a lot like that, just a thousand times amplified. It’s like someone poured a liter of acid into my brain.”

Just two short months after we get Iron Man, the beginning of what the world knows as the Marvel Cinematic Universe, we get The Incredible Hulk. One of the first of many remakes us comic book fans seem to know so well; this is the one we didn’t think we needed until we got it. If you’re like me and you saw the 2003 version of the Hulk, you’d want to erase that film from your memory. The Incredible Hulk does a great job of doing just that. That Hulk looked too CGI (computer generated imagery) heavy and simulated whereas this Hulk looks more realistic and grounded thanks to motion capture technology. We got this Hulk film before all of the origin remakes so this whole remake experiment was still fresh to and therefore didn’t bother us as let’s say Spider-Man does. It’s funny, Batman and Superman reimagined constantly but nobody bats (oops) an eye to it. That’s because each new batman and Superman remakes are spread more apart where Spider-Man has 3 remakes in less than 15 years.

Looking back on the scope of the MCU, it can be difficult to remember that this film is a part of the universe as it’s an entirely different actor playing the role of Bruce Banner/Hulk. We still have other characters come back in later films which, I will detail later on. The way this film handed telling the origin without the audience feeling angry that we’ve seen this before or clueless and not know any backstory worked perfectly. Marvel Studios really has a grasp on knowing their fan base and how to serve a plot points purpose.

Unlike in Iron Man, we’ve seen Hulks origin story previously so the 1-minute recap of how Dr. Bruce Banner becomes the hulk is crucial to the larger story that’s being told. It’s a perfect refresher for when a certain web slinger enters the fold. We as the audience gets a further tease that a bigger universe is being built by the Stark Industries and S.H.I.E.L.D logo’s throughout. Bruce has been on the run from the United States Government, living in Brazil and looking to create a cure for what darkness lurks inside him. Bruce learns to control his breathing and anger and works for no pay at a soft drink processing plant. When fixing some electrical wiring he gets cut and his blood splashed into an empty bottle.

While this is happening, Bruce is conversing with a mysterious colleague to find a cure but, it doesn’t work forcing Bruce to think about going home. Those plans are temporarily put on hold as General ‘Thunderbolt’ Ross gets wind of a gamma poisoning in the States and conducts a manhunt in Brazil. While the chase is going on, Bruce runs into some not so friendly coworkers and the audience gets its first glimpse of the Hulk. A mean green fighting machine takes a forklift truck and tosses it like a softball according to Blonsky.

Bruce (Edward Norton) than finds himself homeless living on the streets with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. He then travels from Guatemala to Virginia, where he used to call home. Bruce stays with an old friend Stanley (Paul Soles) who gives him a bed to sleep in for a few nights. Bruce runs into Betty (Liv Tyler) mistakenly and she plans to help Bruce on his journey to New York City. ‘Thunderbolt’ Ross (William Hurt) acts and moves in on Bruce to capture him at the university. We get a better look at Hulk this time when Bruce gets smoke grenades launched at him. What really unleashes the Hulk is the fact that Betty gets put in danger, Hulk just wants to protect Betty at all costs, despite her estranged father being behind the assault. Blonsky (Tim Roth) before this assault, gets injected with super soldier serum by Thunderbolt as a better chance to take Hulk down. Their plan fails, Blonsky gets severely injured and Betty almost gets killed. Bruce and Betty go on the run and end up in the most aggressive city in the country looking for Mr. Blue (Tim Blake Nelson) to cure Bruce of his “disease’. In their experimentation, Bruce gets captured, the Abomination is born and the two destroy Harlem in a fight of two titans.

The Incredible Hulk had a tough act to follow in coming 2 short months after Iron Man, the film that started the MCU. Yes, Iron Man is the more superior film, but this film is still enjoyable. Edward Norton does a fine job playing Bruce / Hulk but, his Bruce isn’t too convincing, almost like how Andrew Garfield wasn’t a convincing Peter Parker (In my opinion). The Hulk & Abomination fight to the death is fun to watch although so many lives are put at risk just to stop the Abomination. If you’ve seen the entire MCU, you can start to witness and point out the seeds of what comes to fruition in later films with the destruction.

The Army nor NYPD seem too concerned with the safety of its citizens. Thunderbolt is a flawed character, caring more about his position, stopping Hulk and weaponizing his blood and career rather than his family. The acting was pretty decent throughout but, the script was predictable as we could see how Blonsky’s character would turn out before ever taking the serum. I liked Liv Tyler as Betty Ross as she really sold the estranged relationship with her father.

I appreciate the call back to the previous Hulk actor Lou Ferrigno making a cameo as the security guard being blackmailed by pizza (I mean I could be swayed by food too, so I can agree with that decision to let Bruce in) and voicing the few words of dialogue Hulk actually speaks. I also appreciate the name Stanley Easter egg (play on of Stan Lee, the creator of the Bruce Banner and Hulk characters, among thousands of others) and the actual Stan Lee cameo of the man who drank the soda and got gamma poisoning. This is the second cameo for Stan as the audience tries to decipher what his character plays. We assume it’s all different characters but, we will just have to watch and see. Is The Incredible Hulk necessary for watching the MCU and understanding each character? Yes, as supporting characters come back and have bigger roles. We do wonder what happens to some as they never get mentioned again yet are important to the character as a whole. With these first two installments of the MCU, the universe is off to a good start as they lay the foundation for the thing that holds the MCU together, its characters, how complex they all are and the relationships we as the audience have with these characters.

We also get our second “post credit scene” (well in this case its pre credit, post film conclusion) of Tony conversing with Thunderbolt Ross on putting a team together. The tease is the team will be fighting the Hulk as right now, he is the unstoppable nuke the government cannot control.

Overall, The Incredible Hulk is a pretty decent film, its lower on my ranking of films in this universe but It’s still enjoyable with some good performances. Yes, some performances were weaker, and the script wasn’t the strongest but, I would recommend watching to see how this character evolves.  If I were to rate The Incredible Hulk, I’d rate it 3.0 out of 5.

So, tell me guys, have you seen The Incredible Hulk and if so, what do you think about it? Do you agree or disagree with me? Comment below or send me an email and let me know what you think. So far Iron Man is the best film our young MCU has to offer but, don’t worry we have some heavy hitters on deck.

The Incredible Hulk is directed by Louis Leterrier is Rated PG-13 and has a 67% on Rotten Tomatoes. The Incredible Hulk was released on June 13th, 2008 and has a runtime of 1 hour and 52 minutes.

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Hulk will return in The Avengers

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