Movie Review | The Incredible Hulk
Movie summary: Bruce Banner, a scientist on the run from the U.S. Government, must find a cure for the monster he turns into, whenever he loses his temper. (IMDb)
The Incredible Hulk is stuck in a weird place in the MCU. While undoubtedly canon to the shared cinematic universe Marvel Studios have created, it's pretty much been glossed over almost completely aside from a couple of references.
Part of this is to do with having to recast the main actor, with Ed Norton being replaced by Mark Ruffalo, and partly due to Universal having distribution rights for solo Hulk movies, making it extremely unlikely there will ever be a sequel unless Marvel and Universal come to an arrangement.
Speaking of Norton, I'm glad he was recast, because I think he's a little too intense as an actor to really make the audience feel a great deal of sympathy for Bruce Banner. Much like Andrew Garfield's Spider-Man, the civilian identity feels a little too close to the 'hero' identity.
That approach can work in some cases, but it really doesn't for the Hulk. There simply isn't the jarring shift in character required to make the Hulk's presence seem as much of an issue as it should be - it simply makes Norton's Banner feel like his aggressive side has simply been amplified.
The supporting cast are pretty good though, and I'd like to see William Hurt's General Ross bring Betty back into the action as I like Liv Tyler here. Hurt steals the film though, and his performance is enough to understand why he was brought back for the 'war' films - both civil and infinite.
Taking this film on its own, The Incredible Hulk is a fun enough game of cat and mouse, with the wrinkle of Tim Roth's Emil Blonsky causing chaos both before and after his transformation into the Abomination - an interesting example of someone seeking out body horror for their own benefit.
While Blonsky's monstrous alter ego might not resemble the comic book version all that much, it's still fun to see his more intelligent beast go against the more brutish Hulk. The visual effects aren't too great by today's standards, but then the film is now a decade old(!).
The music is also pretty interesting, with the score by Craig Armstrong going for a horror film tone which is perfectly exemplified with the opening theme. Fun trivia, other than the Guardians of the Galaxy movies, this is the only other Marvel Studios film to have opening credits.
Unfortunately, the movie is a pretty by-the-numbers action film and it's easy to see why it doesn't get mentioned that much. It's not exactly bad, nor does it get weighed down by references to other MCU properties, saving the biggest crossover for the final scene - which still needed explaining in a One-Shot, The Consultant.
The Incredible Hulk is a fun enough way to spend a couple of hours, but not much more. It doesn't help that, 'Thunderbolt' Ross and a couple of references aside, it's pretty much ignored by the rest of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. And most of the audience will probably forget about it soon after seeing it too.