Interestingly, Louis Leterrier’s movie doesn’t ignore Ang Lee’s The Hulk from 2003, but at the same time gently nudges it aside in favour of a slightly revised back story. But the events of that ill-fated adaptation are taken as read, and now Bruce Banner is on the run from a military who wish to ‘recover’ him, for use as a weapon.
It’s perhaps a little over simplified – turning Banner’s condition into a Speed-style threat of mayhem – but it’s effective in mounting tension, and directed with a steady hand by The Transporter helmer Leterrier.
The characters: Perhaps the most interesting thing about the Hulk’s story is that there’s no clear villains, and the movie holds true to this. Ed Norton’s Banner is hardly an innocent, and the Hulk is a force of destruction that does clearly need to be controlled, so there’s sympathy to be had with the antagonists too. Emil Blonsky – stoicly played by Tim Roth – is ultimately just a soldier who goes a bit too far to get his job done, while ‘Thunderbolt’ Ross is just trying to reign the Hulk in, as he’s seen first hand the chaos he’s capable of – his only problem is he seems unconcerned with the Hulk’s human side.
The hectic battle in a university quad is a standout, with a vaguely super-powered Blonsky holding his own in a curious reversal of the usual hero/villain dynamic – big stompy takes on small and nimble?
There’s also the cracking sequence that leads to the Hulk’s initial reveal, presented an entertaining mix of parkour and a shade of green horror towards the end. And don’t forget that rather lovely moment between the Hulk and Betty Ross (Liv Tyler) in the cave. (He’s scared of thunder! Aww.)
Bruce Banner: [in Portuguese] “Don’t make me hungry. You wouldn’t like me when I’m hungry!”
Gen. Ross: “As far as I’m concerned, that man’s whole body is property of the U.S. army.”
Bruce Banner: “You know, I know a few techniques that could help you manage that anger effectively.”
Betty Ross: “You, zip it.”
Bruce Banner: “Remember those experiments we volunteered for at Harvard? Those induced hallucination? It’s a lot like that, just a thousand times amplified. It’s like someone poured a litre of acid into my brain.”
Emil Blonsky: “I’m a fighter, and I’ll be one for as long as I can. Mind you, if I took what I had now, and put it in a body that I had ten years ago, that would be someone I wouldn’t want to fight.”
Gen. Ross: “I think I can arrange something like that…”
The Avengers assemble:
The entire conceit of the movie is to redress the groundings of Hulk in the cinema, drenching it in the mythology of The Avengers; from the name dropping of Nick Fury in the opening credits, to the re-emergence of a somewhat imperfect super-soldier serum.
There’s nothing truly overt, however – at least no intra-universe appearances, although an alternate intro on the DVD includes a brief shot of Captain America frozen in the ice with his shield – until a certain Mr Stark shows up in the final moments: “What if I told you we were putting a team together?”
Perhaps the only shame is that we won’t see Ed Norton in Avengers Assemble.
What did you think of The Incredible Hulk? Let us know below…