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One Movie Punch

Jan 8, 2018

It’s Marvel Monday and we’re continuing the Road to Infinity War. Today’s movie is “The Incredible Hulk” (2008), starring Edward Norton as Bruce Banner, with Liv Tyler as Betty Ross and Tim Roth as Emil Blonsky. “The Incredible Hulk” has an odd place in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the only film produced by Universal, challenged with overcoming a very contemplative “Hulk” (2003) from Ang Lee, and mired afterwards in Hollywood politics and gossip, resulting in rights battles and character changes in future MCU films.

The major challenge in overcoming the 2003 film was not repeating the exact same story while also rebooting the character for the new shared universe. One decision that must have been made was condensing the origin story into the title sequence, insinuating more than re-telling the story, which not only robs us of the experience, but fails to give the characters time to build themselves and their relationships.

Instead, the first action sequence pits Bruce against a government team attempting to capture him for scientific study, which is pretty much the same plot device from the 2003 film. In a rich library of potential Hulk stories, it feels like the film repeats the same conflicts, not just the government attempt, but fighting another gamma radiation nightmare as the final boss fight.

The supporting cast has no time to develop. Liv Tyler’s performance as Betty Ross is almost perfunctory, since we are simply expected to know her back story and the depth of her relationship to Bruce. William Hurt’s performance as Thunderbolt Ross can only be seen as one-dimensional. Tim Roth’s performance as Emil Blonsky feels telegraphed, forced to develop the final conflict that, honestly, falls flat. I mean, who tells Hulk to stop smashing?

While I have a lot of gripes about the choices made for the film, I did find it to be a beautiful film. Louis Leterrier makes beautiful use of green everywhere, creating a consistent mood, and the animation for Hulk was excellent. The film does a great job including the shared MCU elements, weaving in the super soldier program that produced Captain America, multiple logos for Stark Industries, and using characters that would later move to “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.”, not to mention the obligatory Stan Lee scene and another cameo from Lou Ferrigno. I also loved the humor, when it was present.

Rotten Tomatoes: 67%

Metacritic: 61/100

One Movie Punch: 6.8/10 

“The Incredible Hulk” (2008) is available for rental or purchase wherever you enjoy movies.