The Incredible Hulk (2008)

I don’t have a huge amount to say about 2008’s The Incredible Hulk, which I’d never seen before this morning. I’m not 100% sure why I didn’t go see this one before. It’s possibly because the 2003 Hulk by Ang Lee was so boring, and we didn’t really know that there was a “Marvel Cinematic Universe” yet, and that this film was part of it and the original movie sort of isn’t.

There were two things I really loved about this movie: they take care of all the origin stuff without dialogue in the main titles and pick up five years later, and Liv Tyler and Edward Norton have terrific chemistry together. If anybody ever casts these two in another movie, I’ll probably watch it.

Another great little moment happens before the climactic fight. Tim Blake Nelson plays a scientist who is helping Banner, and who unwisely helps Tim Roth’s character, Emil Blonsky, turn into the Abomination. Some gamma-infected blood drips into an open sore on the scientist’s head, and the last we see of him is his brain growing and swelling. My recall of superheroes’ and villains’ identities is pretty good, so if Marvel gives me a movie with a guy named Emil Blonsky, I know he’ll become the Abomination, or if Marvel gives me a movie with a guy named Ulysses Klaw with two hands, I know he’s going to lose one of them. But I didn’t recognize the name Samuel Sterns, and didn’t realize he’d be turning into the Leader. That’s a plot thread Marvel’s left dangling.

Overall, I thought it was a good movie, but our son thought it was completely great. We had to swap around the schedule and when I told him last night we were moving this movie up, he hit the ceiling and stayed there for about sixteen hours. He was so excited about watching the Hulk because, of course, Hulk is at least briefly every little boy’s favorite superhero. He even fibbed this morning and told me he didn’t sleep last night because he was so ready to watch this.

There are three big “Hulk smash” scenes in the movie, and our son enjoyed each one more than the last. He didn’t quite catch that the villainous monster has a name, and called him “Spinosaurus” instead. Giving the hero the chance to actually say “Hulk smash” was an inspired idea. He’d really been looking forward to that line!

As always, he complained that there were some boring bits, but, even without the humor that’s become a hallmark of the Marvel Universe, I thought these were much more interesting, at least when General Ross wasn’t onscreen. No disrespect to William Hurt, but I loathed Thunderbolt Ross when I read Hulk comics as a kid, I dislike the “military over all” ethic of movies like this enormously, and I can’t believe the jerk wasn’t court-martialed after destroying Harlem… or at least the part of Harlem that Toronto’s Yonge Street, which subbed for New York, runs through!

One thought on “The Incredible Hulk (2008)

  1. I assumed all of the dangling plot threads in this one were destined to dangle forever after they recast Mark Ruffalo as the Hulk, but then William Hurt as Ross popped up in the last Captain America movie. So maybe we’ll see the Leader some time down the road. I loved Tim Blake Nelson’s campy, leering, too-enraptured-by-the-science-to-have-any-ethics performance, and it would be fantastic if he had a chance to go full villain with it, even if just as a cameo. The Marvel machine takes fan service to absurd heights, so I wouldn’t put them past doing it just to feed the “10 Easter Eggs You Might Have Missed…” listicle industry.

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