Raise your hand if you completely forgot this film was a part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Trust me, from time to time I forget it too. A month after Iron Man hit theaters in May 2008, The Incredible Hulk burst onto the scene to keep the Marvel momentum alive. To be fair to all those involved in making this movie, it’s not as a bad as most people remember. In fact, I think many forget this film’s ties to the MCU mainly because Ed Norton (who is a great actor by the way) was almost immediately replaced with Mark Ruffalo. It once again had something to do with a contract dispute (Norton wanted more creative control over the finished product and it caused a lot of headaches behind the scenes) so Marvel went in a different direction to get Bruce Banner ready for his Avengers debut.
So recently I sat down and re-watched this forgotten gem just to see how well it held up. This was only my second viewing of the film as I had not seen it since it was playing in theaters. Still, we promised a Marvel Cinematic Rewind, which means watching even some of the more obscure entries in the universe.
To quickly summarize, The Incredible Hulk is the second entry in the MCU. It follows Bruce Banner, a brilliant scientist who’s experiment goes wrong, turning him into one of the most dangerous and fearsome players in comic book history. The movie starts with Banner on the run in Brazil, laying low chatting up online with a mysterious Mr. Blue, who is trying to help cure him. By day, Banner is helping out in a bottling plant (where they produce green soda!) and naturally some of his blood gets mixed in a shipment causing Stan Lee to get Gamma radiation poisoning, leading the government to track down his whereabouts. Still with me so far? Banner barely gets away when the SWAT team kicks in his door and a chase ensues around the city. He narrowly escapes and decides to head back to America, hitchhiking and bumming it on foot from Brazil all the way back to Virginia, in a cool 16 days. You’re still with me right? The head SWAT guy, played by Tim Roth, doesn’t like this very much and winds up taking a dose of super soldier serum mixed with a little Banner blood and becomes Abomination. They do battle, Hulk wins, and Banner once again goes on the run.
The Incredible Hulk definitely sits near the bottom of my MCU rankings. The entire movie is essentially just a cat and mouse game with the government consistently trying to bring Banner in, only to finally utilize him to stop Abomination. While I normally like Ed Norton, his Banner is, well, boring. This is definitely the beginning of the lazy villain stereotype that has plagued Marvel films. Tim Roth brings little to the table as Abomination, who probably has a total of 10 minutes screen time. And while i’m not particularly drawn to any specific aspect of this film, it is at least what most would refer to as a good popcorn movie. Good action sequences, paced pretty well, and it keeps your attention. Hey, at least it’s not that god awful 2003 Hulk. I still have nightmares about that one. If this movie proved anything though, it’s that i’m completely content with just one standalone Hulk movie in the MCU.
Final Verdict: 5.0 out of 10
And while you’re here, enjoy this nonsense.