“You wouldn’t like me when I’m hungry”
Ten years ago, the MCU got off to a flying start with Iron Man. However, in the same year, possibly the most forgettable MCU film was released: The Incredible Hulk. I tend to forget about it (unintentionally or not!) when coming to re-watch the MCU films. But for my re-watch leading up to Avengers: Infinity War, I decided to include it. What a mistake! The Incredible Hulk is pretty, pretty bad!
Five years prior to The Incredible Hulk, Ang Lee directed a big screen version of the green giant, simply called Hulk. Lee focused on the drama (both Bruce’s inner drama and familial drama) in a lethargic outing. I’ve never felt the need to return to it since watching it at the cinema. Obviously, the people behind The Incredible Hulk listened to the criticisms of Hulk. Hulk’s origin story was reduced to the opening credits. There’s far more action and destruction than in Lee’s epic. However, they forgot one major thing: make Banner as likeable and deep as Tony Stark!
Say what you want about Iron Man, but Robert Downey Jr’s portrayal of Tony Stark carries the film. More often than not, the MCU’s casting chocies are perfect (the most recent anomaly was Benedict Cumberbatch as Doctor Strange). Here, Edward Norton surprisingly doesn’t give enough depth to Bruce Banner (and the CGI doesn’t give enough depth to the Hulk). It’s not that he seems disinterested in the role, but rather he tries to make the role his own and fails. Of course, Stark and Banner are two very different characters. But it’s hard to sympathise with Banner in any way, shape or form. When compared to Mark Ruffalo’s Banner, it’s a glaring failure. Ruffalo captures Banner in mere minutes of screen time in The Avengers.
The Incredible Hulk’s character problem fans out to all the other characters, from Betty Ross to Samuel Sterns. Only William Hurt as Thaddeus Ross stands out. Inevitably, the mediocre characterization negatively impacts on the story. If we don’t care about the characters, why should we care about the story? There’s plenty of meat on the actual story, but it’s hard to care about what’s happening or where it’s going. Especially when you know where it’s going: a CGI smackdown where the Hulk and his opponent will destroy countless buildings. It’s no stretch to say that the CGI is better than that of Hulk, but it still becomes a mind-numbing computer game cut scene by the end of the film.
There’s not much else to say about The Incredible Hulk. It’s barely watchable, the type of fil you’ll forget about as soon as the closing credits start to scroll. Of course, you’ll fast-forward to the post-credit scene. But that’s all this film is here for: to introduce another Avenger. There’s no more value to The Incredible Hulk than that. That’s why it belongs in the lower echelons of the MCU.
VERDICT: 4/10. The Incredible Hulk is perhaps the most forgettable MCU film. It’s mildly diverting, but you’ll struggle to remember much about it whilst you are waiting for the post-credit scene to pop up. And thank goodness Mark Ruffalo took over as Bruce Banner. Norton’s portrayl doesn’t cut the mustard.
What did you think of The Incredible Hulk (2008)? Leave your thoughts below!
Click here for my review of Iron Man (2008)
Click here for my reviews of the MCU catalogue!