While I previously optimistic and excited about this journey I have to lay this on the table. I do not like The Incredible Hulk very much. While the character grew better with time after a literal face lift, I can’t deny that this movie is overall very underwhelming. Coming off of Iron Man, this feels more like a generic superhero movie of the 2000’s. The MCU has been able to create a sub-genre of superhero movies that have a distinct feel. This one however fails to do that, and there’s a few reasons for that.
The Incredible Hulk takes us once again back to the sunny days of 2008. Iron Man released and kids were still playing Halo 3 online, life was good. There wasn’t a real resurgence in superheros at this time, we had some titles appear around the time but not on the scale and quantity that we had today. After many enjoyed Iron Man they felt the need to go check out The Incredible Hulk. Someone that is more well known from the comics over Tony Stark. Despite that, this entry into the MCU would be ignored by many and forgotten by most.
For me, there’s something about the movie that doesn’t make it feel like an MCU entry. While there are different tones and styles to each movie, you can feel the same experience. That feeling in the air that tells you this is a Marvel movie and you’re going to have a lot of fun. Hulk has a cast that makes it feel out of the ordinary and while I would normally say darker tone. It’s more out of place. There are some pretty full on fights and scenes that are enjoyable to watch, but its not the same giggling feeling you get when you see Thor smash his hammer into a billion dudes.
One thing I feel I always have to mention is Edward Norton. Now he’s alright as Banner actually, not perfect by any means, but he’s not the first thing you start to hate. The characterisation of Betty Ross is awful straight off the bat. Marvel wouldn’t figure out how to write women until Captain America and it shows in this. She is there to serve the Hulks emotions and perform as a love interest only. She writes off her own emotions and shows no remorse for ditching her boyfriend for this big green dude.
I’m not the biggest fan of Norton and the behind the scenes drama about him doesn’t help to pain a nice picture. Could you imagine Thor Ragnarok with this guy? I didn’t think so. Mark Ruffalo shines miles above him, presenting a deep anxiety to what he is, making the best of the situation and still being able to geek out with Tony Stark.
No matter how you look at Hulk, the movie fails to perform as a solo movie and as an entry into the MCU. There’s a tie in at the end but the rest feels entirely disconnected from the world it set out in Iron Man two months before. In many ways Iron Man is a direct opposite to Hulk and the things it does great. In Iron Man we see the full origin of Tony Stark and we grow along side him. Within 10 minutes of The Incredible Hulk everything is buried away for us to forget. Going off of Iron Man two months prior it makes Tony Stark showing up at the end one of the more exciting scenes of the movie as the audience begins to anticipate what is coming next.
The plot also doesn’t give us a chance to have fun or feel a sense of happiness. With Infinity War we can probably guess there’s going to be some dark action and sad moments. But we can also expect to feel joyful to see this cast together and having banter with each other. There’s a balance that lets the viewer have fun. With Hulk we are treated to attempted suicide and a man on the run. While there’s nothing wrong with this sort of narrative with a character like Hulk, the way it was treated in this movie didn’t help the rest of the movie to shine.
To me this one will always feel out of place, I’ve only seen it twice in the 10 years it’s been out and one of those was last week. While I give credit to the guys at Marvel for trying to push forward this shared universe, this one does the worst job at trying to build it. Another point of credit is the action in this, for 2008 it’s pretty decent even if slightly mindless. It certainly took some time for Marvel to find their footing and know how to push their universe forward. But it shows in some of the phase 1 entries. Speaking of which I have to sadly move onto my next entry with Iron Man 2, I’ll see you tomorrow for that!