RETRO REVIEW: The Incredible Hulk (2008)

The Incredible Hulk Poster

Theatrical Release Poster – Marvel Studios – Universal Pictures

The following is a retro review of The Incredible Hulk, a Louis Leterrier film.

Five years after Ang Lee released his version of a Hulk-film, Marvel Studios decided to make a quasi-sequel/reboot of Bruce Banner’s adventures and make it a part of a newly planned franchise. But while The Incredible Hulk became the second film in a multi-billion dollar movie franchise, stuff behind the scenes would end up making this film the least important that Marvel Studios produced in the first phase of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

One of the things I really love about this film is the fact that someone behind the scenes knew that we didn’t really need to see this movie as an origin story. People pretty much knew what had happened to Bruce Banner. People knew of the Hulk. In a day and age where we constantly see origin stories retold, it is nice that this film just told Banner’s backstory in the form of flashback scenes in the intro sequence.

The Incredible Hulk follows an on-the-run Bruce Banner (played by Edward Norton), who is desperate to find a cure to his Hulk-problem. Banner hides in Brazil, but the government is still eager to find the scientist. So when Banner makes a tiny mistake, his location is finally revealed. But the government, for some odd reason, decide to fight fire with fire, and they give Emil Blonsky (played by Tim Roth) a super serum that transforms him in ways they never imagined.

It is sort of funny that here we have Edward Norton playing Bruce Banner, but he looks nothing like Eric Bana from the Ang Lee-film, and nothing like the guy who would ultimately replace Norton – Mark Ruffalo. It does take you out of the movie to know that he was ultimately replaced, but you definitely won’t feel that the performance should have been better.

Edward Norton does a solid job as Bruce Banner, and would’ve been a really cool guy to have in the Avengers-films. I really like how this version of the character is trained in martial arts, but it seems that Marvel dropped that idea when going forward with the universe.

I really wish there was more for Liv Tyler to do as Betty Ross. Her character is really bland, and Liv Tyler wasn’t given much to work with. I think they could have done a lot more with her character, if they hadn’t just decided to focus on the more generic aspects of her character.

‘Thunderbolt’ Ross (played by William Hurt) is really the only character outside of Bruce Banner that Marvel has kept as a character in the universe, at the time of writing. William Hurt does a fine job at being the protective father, who just so happens to be a General.

Some of the action scenes in this film are really, really cool. Sure, the Rio de Janeiro rooftop chase has been overdone in blockbuster films, but I really enjoyed how they really tried to make the Hulk scary in the factory. He was this monster hiding in the dark, and you don’t really get a good look at him at first. The Hulk is a monster and that scene really did a good job at showing that. However, the finale doesn’t hold up very well. Seeing Abomination take on the Hulk was a bit too much of a CGI-fest.

The Incredible Hulk is really well done, but can feel pretty generic compared to the other great superhero films we got around the same time. Some of the action is really well done, but the CGI-finale took me out of the film. All in all, The Incredible Hulk is a solid superhero film, but I admit that it can be quite forgettable.

7 out of 10

– I’m Jeffrey Rex