Entries Comments

The Incredible Hulk Continues Marvel’s Summer Streak

The Incredible Hulk
Directed by Louis Leterrier
Written by Zak Penn (and Edward Norton uncredited) based on the comic book by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby
Universal, 2008

Ang Lee’s Hulk was generally despised for its length and the fact that Bruce Banner’s (played by Eric Bana) anger came from deep-seated issues. Sure, there was that whole gamma radiation thing that turned his anger into a catalyst for turning into a big green monster but much of the focus went to Banner being a head case. It was an attempt from an arty director to make a comic book adaptation a little more weighty, and audiences, for the most part, did not respond. After a decent opening weekend the movie plummeted. I happened to like Ang Lee’s vision, but I could see why others wouldn’t.

Five years later Marvel offers up the reboot, and it’s more about gamma radiation and fun now. Bruce Banner (now played by Edward Norton) is now just a guy who is sick who needs help (which is a bit of fun irony: we don’t want him to get better). He’s holed up in a Brazilian soda factory laying low from the U.S. government, wanted for the fake reason that he killed a bunch of people at a university. The real reason, as personified by General Thaddeus Ross (William Hurt), is that his condition is something the government would like to have and infuse into their own military and be unstoppable in battle.

Banner has been trying to keep it cool when things go awry, wearing a heart rate monitor on his wrist to keep him updated. He has hope from a doctor named Samuel Sterns (Tim Blake Nelson) that may cure him, but Sterns ominously says later, “I’ve always been more curious than cautious.” A mistake at the factory leads the U.S. military to his hideout, and the chase is on. Banner eventually comes back home to find his lady-love, Betty Ross (Liv Tyler), daughter of the general.

General Ross has enlisted a kickass military liason in Emil Blonsky (Tim Roth) to lead assaults on Banner, who of course gets pushed into Hulk territory during the battles. Blonsky knows that it’s going to take more than bullets to stop the Hulk, so he becomes Ross’ guinea pig in getting some injections that will make him faster and stronger…just not quite a hulking beast yet.

But don’t worry, a hulking beast he will become for the final showdown. For the most part, this is a satisfying adaptation and it should please comic book fans and people just looking for an action-packed summer movie. There are good scenes of suspense and action and the digital effects keep getting better and better. If I had one qualm, however, it’s the incessant use of guns by the military in this movie. After the first battle, Blonsky sees for himself that bullets will not work; they just hit the Hulk and fall to the ground harmlessly. Yet, in the next battle, he’s still firing guns, including what amounts to a pea-shooter compared to all the other stuff that has been used in the attempt to fell the green monster. Finally, after Blonsky has become a creature himself, one of the military guys says something like, “Look at that thing! You think bullets are going to stop that?” Hell, no. Glad you finally realized. At this point, bullets are as effective as foul language.

The Incredible Hulk continues a thread of connection with other comic books with an appearance from Tony Stark (Robert Downey, Jr.) at the end (this time after the movie itself, not after the credits like Iron Man). If this becomes a huge hit for Marvel, they might end up printing money with all the spinoffs and sequels from these characters. Marvel’s control over their own franchises has been fruitful so far, and should continue here.


Comment from KW
Time: June 13, 2008, 4:31 pm

I liked Ang Lee’s Hulk a lot too! But I also see how and why the masses did not. But I liked the more introspective approach and even though it didn’t always work, I thought his idea on recreating the “frames” of a comic book in film was laudable.

Glad this one is at least fun and action-packed. Doesn’t sound like Ed Norton’s too fun a guy to work with, though.

Write a comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.