Time for the second entry in the Idiot’s Guide to the MCU: I held off on doing this one for a long time after hearing pretty consistently that this was one of the weaker entries. I still have 19 films to get through before the new Avengers releases in a little over a month. I wouldn’t count on that happening…

Is there any hero less interesting than the Hulk? (Other than Superman of course, he is voided from the eternal “least interesting superhero” question.) The best thing to arise from 21st century Hulk era was a pretty fun beat-em-up game on the Gamecube featuring some famous Hulk villains such as: “Abomination, U-Foes, Bi-Beast, The Enclave, and General “Thunderbolt” Ross.” Sure.

 

I saw this one in theaters and remember thinking it was pretty bland at the time. When I have mentioned that I have to re-watch it, people have generally echoed the sentiment that it’s one of the weaker Marvel movies. My expectations are pretty low but maybe I’ll be surprised.

What I Remember:

I know that this isn’t the Ang Lee version that featured some white guy with dark hair (evidently Eric Bana of ??? fame). So this must be the one with Edward Norton before they replaced him with The Kids Are Alright guy. I don’t remember much from either of those movies so at some point one or all of these things must come true:

  1. There is a scene in the Brazilian favelas.
  2. There are mutated hulk dogs.
  3. Hulk kills a tank.
  4. Hulk demonstrates incredible leaping prowess in a desert environment.

 

My Prediction:

Edward Norton is a scientist, but then a Dr. Manhattan accident happens and he runs away all Hulked.

Hulk fights in the desert and jumps really far. He eventually fights some hulk dogs at night in a suburb. He kills that Hulk enemy that’s a bigger uglier hulk-thing. Nick Fury shows up or hunts down Bruce Banner in a remote location at the very end.

Loosely Organized Running Notes:

  • Using the opening credits to breeze through the Hulk backstory and creation is a good idea and saves some time but I don’t think the execution is great. It ends up dragging a bit and is slightly disorienting but I give them credit for trying something.
  • 1/1 so far this is the Favela one.
  • Bruce is working on ways to control his heart rate, I absolutely wasn’t prepared for the breathing exercises and the terrifying visual of this guy’s stomach.
  • Bruce accidentally cuts his hand at work and panics when some blood drops down into the assembly line and potentially lands in a bottle of soda. He is smart enough to recognize that his hulk/gamma blood is potentially dangerous but confident enough there was only a single drop and no peripheral splatter.
  • (There totally was peripheral splatter, getting sloppy Bruce.)
  • It seems like a developing bit in these movies is going to be teasing the iconic character moments/lines, I like this instance.
  • Okay maybe this one doesn’t have the hulk dogs. Stan Lee shows up and drinks the Hulk soda. As much as I wish this meant we were going to get Grandpa Hulk, I assume he’s toast.
  • Mr. Green and Mr. Blue chat online exactly as you would expect two genius-level scientists to do. Bruce uses the hunt and peck typing strategy, while Mr. Blue repeatedly insists on needing more DATA. That’s how scientists talk, we all know this. This upsets Bruce because he doesn’t believe in the scientific method.
  • The movie clearly establishes Blonsky is a badder dude than Jeff Bridges from Iron Man. Blonsky one-ups Bridges by going with an even closer to literal “kick the dog” moment by tranquilizing two pups in one scene.
  • The US Military has no regard to just wrecking this poor Brazilian guys factory. There’s a semi-topical political joke in there if someone wants to make it.
  • Hulk is treated like a true monster operating mostly in the shadows and just wrecking these soldiers. Unfortunately, they waste all of that build up by then showing off Hulk’s dork-ass hair.
  • Has it always looked this ridiculous? This could only be worse/better if he emo swept it Peter Parker 3 style.
  • They kind of almost address the weird Hulk pant thing, but not really? His pants are shredded when he wakes up but still huge. I still appreciate the effort.
  • Is this the only Marvel movie with two Stan Lee cameos?
  • This film really enjoys showing Edward Norton in pitiful conditions.

For only a dollar a day.

  • The tone of the movie is a bit muddled, Norton’s not really nailing the comedy segments like posing as the pizza guy and bribing Lou Farrigno. (FAN FACT: Lou Fariggno was the original Hulk) He’s better in the more traditional dramatic scenes but a bit awkward in the action sequences.
  • Norton Antivirus, his real name is Norton, get it?
  • I love that Modern Dad is in this movie. Lady Legolas walks out on him though which is pretty rude.
  • And I thought the chemistry was lacking in A Star is Born.

This “sexual tension” is whatever the opposite of palpable is. Sexual slack.

  • Was the decision to cast Norton and Blonksy with relatively scrawny looking guys so the contrast between them and the Hulk beasts is huge? It may work but it makes some of the Bruce action scenes kinda goofy.
  • Bruce Banner gets trapped by the military and they accomplish their goal of not taking down the dork with the Ash Ketchum hat and backpack but instead turning him into the Hulk. 

Shout out to the Titanic.

  • Hulk vs Blonsky 2 highlights the difficulty with how to have a threatening villain when the hero is such a physically dominant figure. But evidently the sound of music can take him down.
  • Modern Dad is the least effectual male competitive love interest in film. They only spend half of a scene attempting to even build him up in that role and the casting choice is odd.
  • Hulk fights off sound cannons and a ton of other weapons before killing a helicopter and instantly turns day into night and starts a rainstorm. What in the world? I get there are storm clouds moving in and there’s a lot of smoke from the fire, but it’s over the top for the sake of a dramatic non-death.

“You killed the sun just like you “killed” my daughter.”

  • The cave scene continues to try and blend comedy, drama, and romance in a weird way that doesn’t seem to work at all.
  • They keep shooting Hulk-recovery Banner slouched on street corners and now he’s curled up on the shower floor. He’s got demons/green monster man blood, the struggle is real.
  • With Mr. Blue and Modern Dad, the highlight of this movie so far has been the inspired casting for these side characters.
  • Watching Bruce be force transformed into the Hulk in this lab setting confirms for me that there’s something that’s just super gross and unnerving about this entire Hulk art style they have going on.
  • I think I would like to retract that prior statement about the Mr. Blue casting being a highlight. His character flips from at least talking about wanting to use the Hulk experiments in order to cure diseases for mankind into wanting to juice-up Blonsky into an even more powerful Hulk for non-specific reasons. It also continues the odd tone the movie strikes by “cutely” name dropping the villain “It could be an Abomination” while other scenes are taking place around it that are supposed to be taken seriously.
  • I think this movie is just off the rails at this point, Bruce decides that the best way to force himself into the Hulk is to leap out of a plane and assume he will turn into Hulk instead of just dying. This is just after we are led to believe there is at least a decent chance he can no longer transform. Just dumb-dumb plot at this point.
  • I’m realizing at this point that I really remembered more from the Ang Lee version than this one. I could have sworn he does high-leaps in the desert. I guess after that failure they decided to completely flip the environment from desert to tropical.
  • Hulk shouldn’t have hair, I’m not saying Abomination looks great but he is at least properly bald. Hulk should either be bald or have Donkey Kong hair.
  • You know, he should actually just be Donkey Kong instead. This movie would immediately leapt to the top of my MCU list if this was the best Kong and when he was Bruce Banner he was Diddy Kong.
  • I get that Hulk traditionally has hair, maybe the bangs are making this particularly egregious, but it’s time for a change.
  • Hulk beats Abomination and then Bruce retreats to an isolated cabin where he can’t harm anyone else and he can focus on harnessing his Hulk powers. They call-back to the throwaway scene where Lady Legolas pawns her mom’s necklace for some desperately needed money with Bruce obtaining it and sending it back to her. It packs exactly the level of emotional punch as you would expect from a movie where two giant green monsters punch each other.
  • Tony Stark shows up instead of Nick Fury at the end, I was wrong, 1.5/4 isn’t great.
  • Still no capes and no change in our blue laser count.

Review:

Well, it’s over, this wasn’t particularly good. Norton wasn’t great at balancing the action/drama/comedy elements and Liv Tyler was barely even a character. Despite spending a decent amount of time on it I never cared about their relationship and the tone was so all over the place that it never felt cohesive. Given that neither of these characters seem to return in the broader universe I don’t think many people will disagree with me.

A complaint I had mentioned about Black Panther was that it wasn’t clear what exactly gave the edge to the hero to finally gain the advantage against the villain that had otherwise showed rather convincingly to have the advantage. Despite that, absolutely do not google “how did hulk beat the abomination”, or maybe do. There appear to be countless forum discussions concerning just that.

 

After one entry, I’m probably scrapping the review score method. I’ll just rank the Marvel movies instead. You may see other lists online claiming to rank these movies from “film critics” or snobs who “have read the comics”, phooey. This is the definite list.

  1. Iron Man 1
  2. The Incredible Hulk. (1/5 There are a few, very few, good moments (introducing Hulk as a scary monster in the dark, the parts that remind me of the video game such as cars for hands) but there isn’t much else. It feels like it exists solely to advance the “Tony is building a team” overall storyline. I would be pretty shocked if anyone from this movie, other than replacement Hulk and General Bad Dad show up later.)

The Incredible Hulk (2008) Trailer