[pullquote cite=”” type=”left, right”][amazon text=Amazon&template=carousel&chan=That Film Guy&asin=B001DTKY08][/pullquote] Ang Lee, award-winning director of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon in 2003 turned his attention to comic books, most notably, The Incredible Hulk, one of Marvel’s most popular characters. He sought to encapsulate the very essence of the human drama of the Hulk and made it a very personal character-driven story rather than an out-and-out action film. The film bombed at the box office after receiving very mixed reviews. There was enough money made from merchandise to secure a sequel, but rather than continue the story, it was decided that a reboot was necessary and in 2008 The Incredible Hulk was released.
Dr. Bruce Banner (Edward Norton) is recruited by General ‘Thunderbolt’ Ross (William Hurt) to test a new serum that he claims will make humans immune to gamma radiation. The experiment goes wrong and Banner is transformed into The Hulk whenever he gets angry. During his initial transformation he destroys the lab and injures General Ross’ daughter Betty (Liv Tyler). He goes on the run, chased by the US army including special operative Emil Blonsky (Tim Roth). Blonsky, frustrated that the Hulk is too powerful, injects the same serum as Dr. Banner and goes through a transformation of his own.
Ang Lee’s The Hulk was praised by some for it’s character-driven dramatic elements, but there was a strong argument that fans of The Incredible Hulk comic book series want to see amazing fight scenes and a thrilling, if ridiculous plot. Learning from their perceived mistakes, Marvel made sure that The Incredible Hulk had nods to fans of the comics. Everything from the atmosphere and cinematographer suggests someone with a very strong idea of what a comic book film should be. There’s even some scenes lifted directly from the comic book themselves. The Hulk himself even utters his immortal line, “Hulk smash!” which drew cheers from several preview screenings.
Three leads are all solid, with Norton particularly bringing some pathos to the character of The Hulk. Roth is the epitome of driven, maniacal hunter as he stops at nothing to bring The Hulk to justice. It’s been a while since Tim Roth starred in a blockbuster film, but he’s lost none of his talent or ability to simultaneously make you care and fear his characters. Liv Tyler and William Hurt are both perfectly fine as the Ross’.
The combination of good acting, and solid plot and fun and interesting fight scenes make The Incredible Hulk a perfectly fine addition to the Marvel universe. Plus there’s even a cameo from Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.), fresh from his own advert film Iron Man 2 in preparation for The Avengers.