Word of mouth is one of the biggest ways that a film can be marketed. “Did you see this?” and “I loved it when…” are great conversation pieces. And the biggest place to find out what people are saying is Rotton Tomatoes. One of the worst talked about films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, based on this metric, is 2008’s The Incredible Hulk.
There is good and bad in every movie, the question is, for The Incredible Hulk, does the good outweigh the bad?
The biggest thing that this film does well is the world that it’s set in. A grounded world that throughout the film has subtle hints to the larger universe that it’s a part of. Hints like blueprints with S.H.I.E.L.D. and Stark Industries logos, WHiH, and a canister that talks about Vita-Rays. But the biggest link to the largest world, and the one that slaps you right in the face, is the small cameo from Robert Downy Jr.
The film is the third outing for Hulk. Coming after the 1970s tv series and Ang Lee’s 2003 film, the origin story of the Hulk had been told and most people knew that the Hulk came from exposure to Gama Rays. The Incredible Hulk takes a smart option and skips the origin by telling you what happens in short flashes during the opening credits and in dialog throughout the film.
I enjoyed the wide shots of the film. The ones of the Brazilian Favelas show just how desperate Bruce Banner has gotten on his search for a cure of the Hulk. And it makes for a compelling chase scene.
The Incredible Hulk does have its issues, though. The biggest of which is chemistry. Most of the interactions between Edward Norton’s Bruce Banner and Liv Tyler’s Betty Ross are not believable. They come off as awkward. Like they wanted to be in love but just couldn’t get it out.
The Banner/Hulk dynamic is usually depicted as a Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde dynamic. But where Jekyll needs a potion to turn into Hyde, Banner just needs to get “angry.” In this film, it’s depicted as any action that gets his heart rate above 200 bpm. While that’s an interesting change, it doesn’t work for me. It essentially means the character can never do anything strenuous.
The CGI also is a down for me. You can pick out a lot of the CGI shots and it’s only The Hulk and Emil Blonsky, after his transformation, that feels believable.
There was one other thing that bothered me with The Incredible Hulk. I have a problem when a film cuts from day to night instantly. And there is a scene in the middle of the film where not only the time changes but also the cut is made from a dark, nighttime pouring rain to rain during the daytime. It threw me out of the movie to wonder how much time passed.
I have found that I tend to dive so far into entertainment that I ask questions within the story that some people don’t. And The Incredible Hulk had a few questions that come out of me.
I wonder if it was General Ross’s goal to turn Banner at the university? Ross had Banner trapped but instead of knocking him out and arresting him, Ross put smoke in with Banner and then Ross is shown content and not upset or frustrated about the turn. Is he trying to test The Hulk or Blonsky? Or was he just not thinking?
Blonsky is rough overall. He is shown as only wanting to be a fighter and that he will do anything to achieve that. The serum that is given to him shows a connection to the process that created Captian America. It makes me wonder if his addiction to wanting more is part of the serum or was it because he didn’t get that last step? Or maybe when he mixed with Hulk blood without that last step, he became deformed and just how did he survive gamma poisoning?
There is good and bad in The Incredible Hulk. While light in humor, one cab scene was fun. The main story is about Bruce trying to get rid of his Hulk persona and we do see that The Hulk can speak short sentences. There is also some downsides. Mostly, the connections between characters. Though they are able to portray that Hulk loves Betty.
Personally, I don’t usually recommend The Incredible Hulk. The film has issues with chemistry and the story isn’t always there. I do come back to it every now and then but only when I’m binging the MCU as a whole.