An Idiot's Guide to the MCU: The Incredible Hulk

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.


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

5: The Wild and Wonderful World of "Black Panther"

"Respect the throne."

March 20, 2019

Why does Wakanda feel more real than the other fictional MCU settings, like Asgard and New York City? In this episode, we analyze the Oscar-winning costume design, production design, and score that help ground Black Panther in reality.


Jackson is attempting to watch all of the Marvel Cinematic Universe films, read his entry on Iron Man here

"Respect the throne."

March 20, 2019

Why does Wakanda feel more real than the other fictional MCU settings, like Asgard and New York City? In this episode, we analyze the Oscar-winning costume design, production design, and score that help ground Black Panther in reality.


Jackson is attempting to watch all of the Marvel Cinematic Universe films, read his entry on Iron Man here

W’Kabi: You would kill me my love?

Okoye: For Wakanda? Without Question.

Black Panther (2018) Trailer

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An Idiot’s Guide to the MCU: Iron Man

Lack of Actual Capes

In some early episode of this podcast, I made a comment that could easily be interpreted as me bragging that I haven’t seen many of the incredibly popular Marvel Cinematic Universe films. Let me now be clear and forthright: there is no place in society for willful ignorance. I am not “cooler” or “more happenin” than anyone just because they have enjoyed the most popular films of the last decade or so while I have generally remained M-Celibate. These are incredibly popular films, and to my surprise, the general public seems to have actually become invested in the stories of the silly caped avengers. (I recognize there is a dramatic lack of actual capes, I will be counting capes for sure).

My Plan:

I will watch every single Disney/Marvel film that is part of the grandiose Marvel Cinematic Universe, and write something about each one. From my hasty count, I have seen five of the films so far while being roughly aware of the larger narrative (Ultron turns people into dust and there is a Raccoon/Tree buddy-up). My intention is to blitz the entire collection and write a little blurb about each movie so I can try and understand what the mono-culture enjoys so much about them. I used to really enjoy Star Wars, so I understand liking things that are bad.

Also, the 4th Avengers movie comes out on April 26th so if I’m caught up by that point, we would have so many internet points. 52 days away and there are 20 films released, woof.

I must repeat, Donkey Kong version of this suit is still my favorite.


Iron Man. The first one. I actually saw this movie in the theater, back in the dark age of 2008 (this was roughly when the Great Recession was occurring, good times, pretty big deal for my generation and anyone looking to retire in that decade). Back then it was novel for there to be a superhero movie that wasn’t instantly panned as being absolute wet garbage.

What I Remember: Iron Man is cool, he has a scientist paired with him who helps him build a super suit eventually. There were references to the Iraq War at some point? I’m pretty sure they play The Song after Iron Man shoots at a tank and walks away all cool-like. I think Jeff Bridges turns baddie in either this movie or the sequel.

My Prediction: Given it took 4 years for the first Avengers movie to come out, I assume this was before the concrete idea of an MCU had been established. I wouldn’t be shocked to see they recorded some post-credits scene with Captain America buying Tony Stark a shot or something. Eventually Sammy Jackson starts showing up so maybe that starts here.

Loosely Organized Running Notes:

  • Oh, so this is 2 hours long, that seems a bit much for Iron Man but okay.
  • They kick things off with “not the song you expected, but your dad still really likes “Back in Black.” Shrewd move.
  • “You’ve been called the DaVinci of our time.” Yep. The dude who makes all the weapons? I realize they’re laying it on a bit thick now in order to have the pivot eventually, but that’s a bit much.
  • It really is refreshing to start off a super hero franchise without the usual “Boy, Aunt May, we have to hide this from the world.” Hard facts: before this movie was released, the only good super-hero movie was Batman Begins. I get that it’s funny to pretend any of the other Batman or Spiderman movies were decent, but they weren’t.
  • Tony Stark getting absolutely demolished from the road side bomb happens super-fast and is pretty gritty, the character reversal when he sees that it’s his weapons causing the damage is fairly predictable, but clever enough for this type of movie.
  • As I remember it, his buddy scientist is totally dying. (He did.)
  • Nice homage to the A New Hope scene where the overconfident Han chases troops down a hallway and revealing more baddies. Seems to have had a sadder ending in this version.
  • The MCU is 40% better if Iron Man never made a new suit and he was just this hilarious walking garbage can.
  • Iron Man’s escape being treated for laughs (he launches like a rocket and then crash lands in a heap) is kind of weird coming right after his buddy dies in an emotional scene.
  • Jeff Bridges, the mean CaPiTaLisT (I think the SpongeBob meme fits here?) partner, riding a Segway is a great way to make him look super intimidating.

  • So, Iron Man flies all the way across the planet? I recognize this is a stupid nit-pick complaint and is probably explained away in some comic, but they pay attention to energy/battery levels later on so it seems worth mentioning.
  • Beyond bummed it doesn’t play the actual Iron Man song during the walk-away from explosion scene. Must have been in the trailer. Actually, probably for the best given the tone of the scene.
  • All robot assistants have British accents. It doesn’t matter what movie it is, this is the law.
  • Classic kick the dog moment with evil Lebowski killing the less evil dudes
  • “I LOVE THIS SUIT!” -Evil Jeff Bridges and the rest of America. Old Iron Man suit is best Iron Man suit.
  • I must repeat, Donkey Kong version of this suit is still my favorite.

  • They essentially steal the “Never tell me the odds” line from Han Solo. British droid begins to state limited odds of survival/success and Tony interrupts, “I know the math.”
  • Most of the CGI looks good still, but the early fire effects and particularly half-man/half-suit Lebowski is a special level of terrifying.

  • Sam Jackson shows up, so there’s that.


As a standalone (superhero) film, 4/5 Donkey Kong Iron Men, well-paced, only a handful of characters but they all had moments, wasn’t just a constant dredge of action scenes with no consequence. Whatsherface love interest and whatshisface Army-man friend are all we need for secondary characters, Tony Stark does all the heavy lifting, and then there’s evil Jeff Bridges, who while passable for a throwaway intromovie villain, seems like a huge waste of a fun actor. 

As an intro move, 4/5, subject to revision, gets straight into it, limited backstory but we learn what we need.

Iron Man (2008) Trailer