The Incredible Hulk - Avengers: Infinity War Marvel MCU Marathon
Before I go further, I just wanted to warn my readers there may be spoilers for The Incredible Hulk ahead.
I think sometimes people forget the Hulk actually had his own solo film. Maybe this was because it was early on in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) or maybe because people think it's a sequel to Ang Lee's disastrous Hulk (it isn't).
I think a big reason for the disconnect is because of the lack of connectivity to the main MCU in terms of actors who play characters we've come to love. Bruce Banner was not played by Mark Ruffalo, who has been the Hulk since Marvel's The Avengers, but by Edward Norton. And we've never seen nor heard reference to Liv Tyler's Betty Ross outside of this film. The only real connectivity is William Hurt's role as General Thunderbolt Ross who later comes back as Secretary of State in Captain America: Civil War.
Whatever the case, it's sad because The Incredible Hulk is actually an enjoyable film. While it isn't a sequel to Hulk, it just assumes people remember the basics to the origin story in that film - Banner gets bombarded with an overload of Gamma Rays and makes him a monster.
This film has Banner in hiding in Brazil, trying to manage his anger issues and the time between turning into the Hulk. He is also trying to find a cure with the help of the mysterious Mr. Blue who would turn out to be Dr. Samuel Sterns (Tim Blake Nelson), but then he is hunted down by General Ross.
I really liked Edward Norton in this film. I think he was great as Bruce Banner. He is much more dour than Mark Ruffalo, but that's due to the tone of the film and not the performance. The one thing that this film lacks is Marvel Studios's trademark humor. I don't think that's necessarily a bad thing as its played like a monster movie, which is really what Stan Lee and Jack Kirby had in mind when they first created the character.
The thing I liked about this film that we don't get out of the current Hulk is that we see Hulk on a more personal level aside from his life with the Avengers. It is a horror story, but, at the heart of it, a Romeo and Juliet like love story. Banner and Betty are constantly driven apart by her father's obsession of killing the monster.
I would love to see Hulk get another movie like this where it wasn't just about Hulk being a smasher, but a man dealing with his inner monster. They used the Hulk more sparingly in this film, but when he was on screen, they made it count because the action scenes were great.
But, again, his presence wasn't all about smashing. There is a scene where Hulk takes Betty to the cave after rescuing her. It's very touching and very much in the spirit of their relationship. She calms the monster down. Liv Tyler's performance brought a levity to the movie in an otherwise serious film. I wish they would have brought her into the MCU beyond this movie. She is a much better fit, as well as comic book accurate, than Black Widow as Banner's love interest. Much better fit.
I liked Tim Roth as Emil Blonsky. I think he took the one dimensional motivations of his character and made the most out of it. He is a man driven to be the best. So, it made sense for General Ross to pick him for the experiment that would eventually bring him to force Stern to make him into the Abomination. My biggest complaint, though, was how Abomination looked. I wish they would have made him look more like the comic book character instead of some mutated frog-fish.
It's too bad they never revisited any of the characters aside from General Ross. They also introduced Banner ally Doc Samson (who I forgot was played by Ty Burell of Modern Family fame!) and Samuel Sterns turns into the classic Marvel villain The Leader who I hope we'll eventually see. They teased the transformation into The Leader, but they never develop it. So, its still hanging there out in the MCU.
I also never realized until rewatching the nod to the 1970s The Incredible Hulk television show at the end. Banner receives a piece of mail addressed to David B.. In the TV show, he was known as David Banner rather than Bruce.
Finally, this film has the distinction of having no mid or post credits scenes, just the epilogue featuring Robert Downey, Jr. as Tony Stark talking to General Ross about the Avengers Initiative.
If you haven't seen The Incredible Hulk lately, I say give it another chance. I think it's a solid film.
Stan Lee cameo: Guy who drinks soda infected with Banner's blood.
Now, on to Iron Man 2!