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The Incredible Hulk (2008) - MCU Retro Review

04.07.2018

Heading into the final few chapters of Marvel's Phase 3 in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, we decided it was time to take a look back at the last ten years worth of films (18 in all) and re-evaluate them based on how well they hold up today and how connected they are to the greater MCU now that the films have advanced so far into the timeline, which culminates in AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR and it's untitled sequel. Are they as good as you remember? Do they still hold up today? Are the deeper MCU connections even deeper than before or weaker? Join us as we attempt to answer those questions and take another look at the last decade of Marvel Studios with our Retro-Review Series!

DIRECTED BY: Louis Leterrier
WRITTEN BY: Zak Penn
STARRING: Edward Norton (Bruce Banner), Liv Tyler (Betty Ross), Tim Roth (Emil Blonsky), William Hurt (“Thunderbolt” Ross), Tim Blake Nelson (Samuel Sterns).
STORY: Bruce Banner reconnects with his long-lost love, Betty Ross, after years of being on the run, only to be tracked down by the army once again. However, this time they have soldier Emil Blonsky on their side, who, after being injected with serums that give him super strength, transforms into the murderous, hideous Abomination. Now, only The Hulk can stop him.

I kinda loved THE INCREDIBLE HULK when it came out, although I’ll admit that ten years later it doesn’t hold up nearly as well as IRON MAN or a lot of the other Marvel pics. One thing is for sure, if there’s a Marvel movie out there that people haven’t seen, it’s probably this one. The lone box office flop from Marvel, it only made $263 million worldwide, handicapped, no doubt, by the poor reaction to Ang Lee’s THE HULK only five years earlier.

Louis Letterier’s film is significantly different, opting for a version of the Hulk that adhered more to the seventies TV show, where he wandered hiding from the authorities. The movie picks up with Banner, played by Edward Norton in his only performance in the part, hiding in Brazil and using meditation to control his transformations. He’s almost successful, until – natch – trouble comes looking for him.

While a bit of a mess compared to other Marvel movies, no doubt due to a sticky editing situation that led to Norton not promoting the film, THE INCREDIBLE HULK still works. Norton, as much as he seemed to hate the finished product, is a good Bruce Banner, although it’s hard not to compare him to Mark Ruffalo, who’s easily more iconic in the part thanks to the humor he brings to it and his chemistry with the other actors. It’s hard to imagine Norton continuing as part of an ensemble.

Tim Roth, as Blonsky, brings an edge to his baddie, even if he’s essentially a minor threat compared to what came later. William Hurt was good enough as Thunderbolt Ross that Marvel keeps bringing him back, even though it kinda feels like this one slightly exists outside the continuity. I also liked Liv Tyler as Betty Ross, although her character’s been ditched by Marvel now that Black Widow is Banner’s love interest.

One of the other things I liked about Letterier’s film is the score by Craig Armstrong, which to me is one of the better Marvel soundtracks. However, being a decade old, I must admit the CGI doesn’t hold up all that well. The Hulk is a tough one to render properly, and it feels like the technology only really caught up to the character when they made THE AVENGERS. The VFX are significantly better than in Lee’s film, but they had a way to go before making The Hulk really convincing on the big screen.

READ THE ORIGINAL THEATRICAL REVIEW!

One thing Lee’s movie lacked was big action scenes. There were a few scattered around, but outside of being chased by the army, there wasn’t much variety. Now, THE INCREDIBLE HULK does have its share of Army vs Hulk scenes, but holy cow are they handled better here, with upgraded CGI, and an actual villain in a pre-serum Blonsky. Also, I loved the way the Hulk transformations were handled.

Tony Stark: The smell of stale beer... and defeat. You know, I hate to say "I told you so," but that Super-Soldier project *WAS* put on ice for a reason. I've always felt that hardware was much more reliable. Gen. Thaddeus 'Thunderbolt' Ross: Stark. Tony Stark: General. Gen. Thaddeus 'Thunderbolt' Ross: You always wear such nice suits. Tony Stark: Touché. I hear you have an unusual problem. Gen. Thaddeus 'Thunderbolt' Ross: You should talk! Tony Stark: You should listen. What if I told you we were putting a team together? Gen. Thaddeus 'Thunderbolt' Ross: Who's "we"?

Gen. Thaddeus 'Thunderbolt' Ross: Help the green one, dammit! Which one do you think? Cut the other one in half!

Betty Ross: Subway's probably quickest. Bruce Banner/ The Hulk: Me in a metal tube in the most aggressive city in the world? Betty Ross: You're right. Let's get a cab. 

Bruce Banner/The Hulk: Hulk, SMASH!

 

The opening flashback is highly reminicent of the seventies TV show's title sequence. 

Samuel Sterns mentions the “Super Soldier” serum.

Project Rebirth is mentioned (the same project that created the Super Soldier serum and made Captain America who he is)

Lou Ferrigno shows up as a security guard and does the voice of the Hulk, which would continue in the other MCU films.

Steve Rogers's portrait shows up on a wall in a scene between Blonsky/Ross, but it's VERY hard to make out.

First appearance of Thunderbolt Ross, who comes back in CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR.

- In a deleted scene on the Blu-ray, Captain America can be seen frozen in ice briefly.

- In a move that stunned moviegoers in 2008, Robert Downey Jr., shows up in the post-credits stinger to confront Ross and drop hints about a “team” “we’re” putting together.

- Stan Lee shows up (of course), and gets a presumably fatal dose of gamma radiation after drinking the wrong soft drink.

Emil Blonsky/ Abomination: A soldier, he’s given the super soldier serum by Samuel Sterns, but becomes addicted to it, and once it’s mixed with Bruce Banner’s blood, he becomes the hideous Abomination. He actually survives the film, but is never seen again (so far) in the MCU.

Samuel Sterns aka The Leader: Clearly intended to be a recurring villain, at the end of the film some of Banner’s blood drips into an open wound causing his cranium to expand, presumably turning him into the character as we know him from the comics. So far, Sterns has never returned to the franchise.

 

Source: JoBlo.com

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