The green-headed stepchild of the Marvel universe. So this is about a scientist by the name of Bruce Banner (Edward Norton). He has had an experiment involving gamma radiation done in his past which causes him to change into a green monster when he gets too excited. Will he be able to find a cure, and will he be able to stay two steps ahead of the U.S. Government? I will go ahead and say it: I liked this movie better back in 2008. The Incredible Hulk is not bad, but Marvel has seriously spoiled us over the past decade, and that quality bar has simply been raised. On top of that, this has a disconnected feel to it because they went ahead and tapped out Norton for Mark Ruffalo, so it ends up feeling like its own movie instead of interconnecting to everything else. Apparently, Norton had wanted to do some darker stuff with the character of Banner, like traveling to the Arctic for a suicide attempt.
If you don’t play ball, Marvel will recast you in a heartbeat. Just ask Terrence Howard.
The thing that doesn’t hold up all that well in this is actually the acting. These are all good actors, and they have all previously starred in movies that showcase their chops. You can tell that Norton believes in the material, and he has a good chemistry shared with Liv Tyler in the on screen relationship. That said, almost everybody else feels cartoony, like Tim Roth and William Hurt. I don’t think they truly realized the extent of what Kevin Feige and Marvel were really doing with their universe building. Roth in particular I feel is really hamming it up, playing a Russian character that they totally just retconned to be raised in England because he didn’t feel like doing an accent. Marvel always is given a hard time by everyone for having weak villains, and the Abomination really is one of their lesser rogues in their gallery, even by Marvel standards.
Although I suppose it could be worse.
Out of all the Marvel movies, this is one of the simpler stories. The other thing that Marvel gets criticized a bunch over is these movies tend to wrap up with a brawl in a city with lots of civilian casualties. They have since fixed that in many of their more recent movies, but The Incredible Hulk is probably the worst from a human life lost standpoint if you are really paying attention to the final brawl. This is one of their lesser movies to be sure, but it was a necessary stepping stone to Marvel finding their legs.
The Incredible Hulk (2008) ***
– Critic for Hire