Dee Discusses: The Incredible Hulk

Posted: May 1, 2012 by Dee in Dee, General Media, Movies
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Part two of my Road to the Avengers reviews! I already talked about Iron Man before and what a resounding success that was for all involved. The Incredible Hulk … not so much. Now it didn’t do poorly. It made back its budget and then some, but it wasn’t the hit they were hoping for. More on that later. Spoilers below, and YOU WOULDN’T LIKE ME WHEN I’M HUNGRY.

So here’s the deal. The Incredible Hulk only came out like a month after Iron Man. They were both made for about 140-150 million dollars. Hulk got 260ish back in the box office … and Iron Man got 585 million. That’s a huge difference. I think I went into all the reasons why Iron Man was a massive success and it wasn’t as simple as “it’s a better movie,” although it is exactly that. It has a better cast, it has better writing and pacing, and Tony Stark is charismatic as hell. So that’s all involved here, but the Hulk is an issue and always has been. As a solo character, he’s struggled more with popularity. The first Hulk movie was a colossal failure in terms of critical acclaim and generally considered a mistake. This one isn’t bad, not at all, but it’s not necessarily good either. And as usual I’m getting ahead of myself.

So, they skip the origin here. Hulk is Hulk, guys. He’s Bruce Banner (Edward Norton) who is experimented on with gamma radiation. General Ross (William Hurt) is really trying to get together some Super Soldiers, so he wants Banner for his brains and also he’s a good little lab rat. He’s also dating his daughter Betty (Liv Tyler), but that doesn’t rate very high on Ross’ opinion of … pretty much anything. It’s been five years since Bruce first turned into the Hulk, destroyed their labs, and nearly killed Betty. He’s been on the run ever since because he knows Ross wants to find a way to use his blood to make more of him. The Hulk can’t be controlled and he thinks it’s a disaster to spread it around. He is trying to meditate and use calming devices to get past his problem. His heart rate can’t go over 200. He’s working at a plant in Brazil and unfortunately a little of his blood gets in a packaged soda. Somehow it is reported and it gets around the office until Ross hears of it. Off to Brazil!

Ross is stupid. He’s only met the Hulk once before but he seriously underestimates it, and he doesn’t prepare his mercenaries in the slightest. This group is led by Emil Blonsky (Tim Roth), a hardened soldier who enjoys the excitement and properly goes WTFFFF when he goes up against the Hulk. He rightly calls Ross on his stupidity and starts taking steps to be a Super Soldier. This becomes important guys for later down the road, mmmkay? Bruce is trying to find a cure for himself and he’s been in secret contact with a scientist. He’s trying to get him data and blood, but it’s not enough, so he has to try and find the original files. That brings him back to the good old US of A. He sneaks into the labs but everything is gone. Of course he has to see his lady love Betty. She freaks out when she sees him, there’s emotional embraces, even though he’s been gone all those years, she has no idea what happened to him, and she has a perfectly nice boyfriend.

Betty does have the files and gives them to him, but her father manages to catch them at the school. He has a much better arsenal now, and none of it matters because the Hulk wrecks them completely. He steals Betty, they bond and go on the run, they have awkward romantic chemistry, and look for Mr. Blue. He’s an awkward scientist who helps inject Bruce with a serum that could help him. The army gets there in time though, and he’s carted away. Emil is like miiiine gimme gimme and becomes the Abomination. Bruce asks to be sent down and willingly becomes the help to stop this new creature. When he wins, he slinks off. Alone. Alwaaaays alone.

My problem with The Incredible Hulk doesn’t really have to do with story. Yeah, it has a few weak spots and the dialogue isn’t amazing, but I found it interesting and followed everything well. I think Bruce needs to get his shit together and learn to embrace the Hulk instead of try to cure it, which seems to be what he did at the end. But yeah sucks to be him. That’s sort of the Hulk’s thing. He’s the little guy, the brilliant nerd, who just can’t cut a freaking break. And he’s got this Jekyll and Hyde thing going for him that is legitimately dangerous and he has reasons to hide. I like Bruce Banner. I’m not a huge fan of Ed Norton’s Bruce Banner. I know a lot of drama was made over recasting him, but Norton never felt like a scientist to me. They made him too action star, and I know this is IMPORTANT because it’s a blockbuster and your star can’t be this shy softspoken nerd. Still all the same I never believed him as Bruce Banner, which made the movie hard for me.

I think William Hurt was amazing as General Ross. Emil was tough and scrappy but they never explained why he kept his mind as the Abomination. I’m guessing because he went through Super Soldier programming first so that kept him healthy in mind. That wasn’t well explained. I have an awkward relationship with watching Liv Tyler because I knew her as a child, and also because I think she’s a pretty poor actress (sorry). There was only one moment that Betty showed real personality and that was when she screamed at the cab driver, which was pretty hilarious. But I didn’t care about her, I didn’t feel their chemistry, and obviously I didn’t like Ed Norton’s portrayal either. And believe me I LOVE EDWARD NORTON. Usually.

Listen, the movie did decently. The reviews were decent, although not too good. It was a B level movie, and that’s not a failure. It just got completely eclipsed in every way by Iron Man. A lot of people complained that it wasn’t funny, it wasn’t interesting, and yes it lacked a certain spark. A spark that people were looking for after watching Iron Man. See where this is going? It was an okay movie, but okay isn’t good enough. I’ve heard great things about Mark Ruffalo in Avengers, and I like the idea of using Hulk as a group character rather than on his own. Because until Bruce can control the Hulk and connect with him more, he’s just a smart guy with a temper problem and a monster within. His motives are pure, but his story is bland. At least for now. I’m all for rebooting the series if The Avengers gives him a leg up.


  1. I loved this film. Norton was depicting the ’90s Banner from the books, but nobody really knows that. This was actually a sequel (though they did omit the crappier aspects of Eric Bana’s movie). Abomination keeps his mind due to his inherent evil, which he embraces. Banner always tried to stifle his rage, which explains the Hulk’s monosyllabic vocabulary. I agree about Tyler. She never really stood out to me as a real actress. If Betty is in Avengers, I hope she doesn’t suck.


    • Dee says:

      I haven’t heard anything about Betty being in the Avengers, but they could always surprise us. I’ve actually read the comics frequently, although that isn’t the period I know best, and I still don’t vibe well with Norton. Which is a shame because I personally love the man as an actor.


      • Wow, quick response. Well, I like Norton too and I liked him in this. But we all have our “dream cast”s for films like this.


      • Dee says:

        I get the updates fast! And I agree. He’s definitely not ERIC BANA. I know, everyone’s ragged on that movie, but it still makes me facepalm. I think William Hurt is fantastic in this movie though. He is exactly what General Ross felt like for me.


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