The Incredible Hulk (2008)
Tim Black Nelson
Bruce Banner, a scientist on the run from the U.S. Government, must find a cure for the monster he turns into, whenever he loses his temper.
The second movie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe is incredibly different from the first. I understand why they made The Incredible Hulk, of the original Avengers movies The Hulk, probably, had the most name recognition. However, I think this movie took too much inspiration from the Ang Lee Hulk film.
Norton plays a more broody and dark version of Bruce Banner than Mark Ruffalo. His focus is on keeping his heart rate down because that is what he believes sets him off. His entire existence is finding a cure so that he can get rid of The Hulk and is living in Brazil working in a bottling company while he talks on an encrypted channel to Mr. Blue, Tim Blake Nelson. Eventually he has to come to NY, because everything always happens there, so that he can finally be cured.
During all of this you discover that General Ross, William Hurt, has been trying to find him so that he can recreate The Hulk. He’s desperate for that ability and ends up giving power to someone who is clearly too attracted to violence.
Great big violent battle, lots of destruction, and Bruce Banner/The Hulks situation doesn’t change.
This movie isn’t shot like what I’ve come to expect from superhero movies. It is much more of an action thriller and has probably the best shot action scenes in the entire MCU. There’s no shaky cam and very few quick cuts, even with the large amounts of CG that was used. It was impressive.
Story wise, the movie only makes a passing reference to S.H.I.E.L.D. and doesn’t mention Iron Man at all until the credits scene (which is not at the end) when Tony appears. Bruce believes he changes because of his heartrate and not just because of rage, which I don’t believe is brought up again. Betty, Liv Tyler, makes no future appearances even though they act like she’s the love of his life. Blonsky, Tim Roth, is captured, but not killed, and Mr. Blue is exposed to Bruce’s blood and starts to change. To my memory none of this is referenced in further movies.
The Incredible Hulk is like the relative that people prefer not to talk about at family reunions. It seems to be largely ignored in the greater story and, thankfully, is not used as a style inspiration for future movies. Though, maybe Thor: Dark World could be explained that way…
Clearly, you don’t have to watch The Incredible Hulk to enjoy the MCU, but it is interesting to see what could have been. What if, instead of bombing financially, making less than half what Iron Man did, the roles had been reversed? How would that have changed the franchises future?