The Incredible Hulk Thoughts
The Incredible Hulk is Marvel Studios’ most controversial film but possibly one of their strongest ones. The film was plagued by internal turmoil between Edward Norton & Marvel. When Edward Norton was signed onto the film, his only stipulation was that he get to work on the script which Marvel granted. The original script was a sequel to Ang Lee’s Hulk but Norton revised the script and changed it into a reboot. Edward Norton created an action drama that captured the anguish of Bruce Banner. Unfortunately Marvel had final say on the theatrical version and cut out a lot of Norton’s contributions. Marvel’s fear was the film was too dark and too dramatic, afraid of having the same negative reception as Ang Lee’s Hulk. Sadly, Marvel’s ill decision making is why the film suffers.
The film starts off like a sequel picking up in Brazil right where the first film ended. Since the movie does tend to play out like a sequel, all character development is thrown out the window and Marvel assumes audiences already know the back story from watching the Ang Lee Hulk or reading the comics. It’s actually unfair and the entire backstory is recapped in the opening credits. Edward Norton’s original intention was to tell the back story throughout flashbacks. So instead of boring audiences with a typical origin movie, it would be told as a puzzle as Banner is piecing it together. It’s one of the tragic things taken out that would have made it a unique first film. Now if you’re familiar with the backstory of Bruce Banner and his relationships with people, the film tends to make sense. You can easily fill in the blanks on what happened and why Betty is important to him.
The sequences that take place in South America are some of the strongest scenes in the film. The whole South America story is actually a fine homage to the Bruce Bixby series. Banner is alone and in hiding trying to find a cure. He has a picture of Betty to remind him of what home & happiness was. Norton is perfection in these scenes. His emotions tell us everything. Just from that we can tell he’s a man in pain with a tragic past. There’s actually a very fantastic deleted scene that i recommend everyone watch before they watch the film where Banner goes to commit suicide but the Hulk won’t let him. It sets the tone for the film perfectly. Norton doesn’t make Banner a wise cracking relaxed scientist like Mark Ruffalo did in the Avengers nor does he come off frigid as Eric Bana. Norton embodies the tragedy & loneliness of Banner perfectly. Norton is totally believable in his role as a scientist & cursed man. Norton also brings a likable charisma to his Banner as well. One of the problems with the Ang Lee Hulk film were not enough Hulk and the human scenes were boring, but Norton is just as enjoyable to watch as Banner. The Banner scenes are just as entertaining as the Hulk scenes.
Everyone else in the cast is very good too with Liv Tyler being the weakest. Liv Tyler isn’t that convincing as a scientist but she’s very believable in her scenes with Norton as the cursed lovers . Fortunately most of her scenes are with Edward Norton. The love story is one of the strongest bits in the movie, maybe one of the best love stories in a superhero movie too. Banner refuses to be with Betty because he hurt her once and feels immense guilt for it. He wants to be with her but he can’t. Even though it seems Betty has moved on, she hasnt’ and won’t let go of Banner. Betty is the only one who can calm the Hulk. Banner is the reason why the Hulk isn’t a true monster. His love for Betty is what drives his emotions. She keeps him from being a force of destruction and is the key factor in the transformation of The Hulk becoming a hero. Liv Tyler is magnificent in those scenes, especially when she’s in the cave with the Hulk. She just doesn’t come off natural in her other scenes at first but gets better as the film goes on.
The villains are well done to a certain extent. William Hurt is great as Thaddeus Ross, compared to Sam Elliot’s Ross who didn’t seem like a bad guy. He was more of a douche. Hurt’s Ross is much more sinister. He’s obsessed with having the perfect weapon and willing to do anything to get it, even if it means killing Banner. He takes Emil Blonsky under his wing who is a soldier obsessed with fighting. Blonsky is aone dimensional character. His motives aren’t really clear. All that is made clear is he’s not a good person. There are hints throughout the film of why Blonsky is a soldier and it’s assumed he actually enjoys the negative aspects of war. He’s obsessed throughout the film of Hulk’s power and The Hulk himself. The one thing left ambiguous is what Blonsky wants to do with that power. When he becomes Abomination, he’s just going around causing chaos and fighting everyone. It’s not exactly clear why he’s attacking his own army but the deleted scenes help flesh out Blonsky’s motives. He constantly disagrees & undermines Ross. In addition he wants Banner for himself. He sorts of serves as an antithesis to the gentle kind hearted Banner. The best part of the Blonsky is that Tim Roth plays the character smoothly. He’s very good in the role without coming off as stupid or cheesy. Roth makes Blonsky come off as a dangerous unpredictable threat and it was an ingenius idea to cast the underrated Tim Roth in the role. There’s also some great cameos scattered around the film that i won’t spoil.
Towards the second half of the film, it becomes a generic fugitive story that’s bolstered by the action. It’s a big departure from the smoothly paced first half of the film and that’s where Marvel’s contribution is clear. Thankfully the action is well directed. The scenes are pure entertainment, thrilling and the great performances help. Every time Banner becomes the Hulk it’s a special exciting moment. The end fight is worth the wait and non stop fun. Another thing to mention is the terrific score. It’s emotional, memorable, and tense at all the same time. Action movies tend to follow a formula with score but Craig Armstrong’s score has its own life. It brings an another element into the movie. It makes emotional scenes even more emotional and action sequences come alive.
Would I Recommend?
The Incredible Hulk is a film that does many things right but also tends to have a lot of flaws. It lacks the character development of most superhero movies but still manages to be a fun movie with a good amount of drama. It’s easier to follow the movie if you know the backstory of the characters but enough is hinted to figure out what’s going on. Edward Norton is great and convincing as Bruce Banner and his supporting cast does the best with their material. The Incredible Hulk is a beautiful film about a man who believes his gift is his curse. He’s alone in the world in the world but there’s one person that loves him and is his driving force to live. It’s his love and good heart that allows him to become a hero towards the end. Even with its flaws ,it’s heavily entertaining and enjoyable. It contains more drama & better acting than most superhero movies and that’s enough to justify it as a good movie. Now if you feel turned off by the cuts & studio interference, there was a fan edit made to be closer to Norton’s original intention of the movie. It corrects most of the film’s flaws and can be found on the internet, sadly it’s not available on home release.