Continuing my journey on my Marvel movie marathon quest. The second film up in the Marvel movie marathon: The Incredible Hulk.
Just to catch you up on what I’m doing with this Marvel movie marathon in case you missed my first post about Iron Man:
I am in the process of watching every MCU film from start to finish in release order, and of course sharing my thoughts. And bonus for my blog readers – since I’m watching all of these films with my new Marvel correspondent (he doesn’t know he has this title yet), you actually get two different perspectives on the movies. Tony (not Stark) has seen all of the films multiples times and knows a lot of the behind the scenes info and comic book origins. I, up until this point, have been a casual Marvel fan and have seen most of the movies once, though some of the early ones not at all.
Even though we actually watched all of Phase One in one weekend (phew!), I’m spacing out my blog posts a bit, which means today we are on to film #2:
The Incredible Hulk.
Release date: June 13, 2008
MCU phase: Phase One
Run time: 112 minutes
Box office: $264.8 million
Rotten tomatoes audience score: 70%
“Scientist Bruce Banner (Edward Norton) desperately seeks a cure for the gamma radiation that contaminated his cells and turned him into The Hulk. Cut off from his true love Betty Ross (Liv Tyler) and forced to hide from his nemesis, Gen. Thunderbolt Ross (William Hurt), Banner soon comes face-to-face with a new threat: a supremely powerful enemy known as The Abomination (Tim Roth).”
Becky’s knowledge prior to watching: I had never seen The Incredible Hulk and knew almost nothing about it, other than the fact that it was about the Hulk and starred not Mark Ruffalo. Most people who would mention the film to me would say you don’t need to watch it, it’s not a great movie and not important to the MCU, etc. I really like Mark Ruffalo as the Hulk so I kind of went into this already being a little disappointed it wasn’t going to be Mark Ruffalo.
The Hero: The Hulk
Get ready for an unpopular opinion, because overall I actually really enjoyed this movie. In large part this was due to the character of Bruce Banner. He’s such an interesting character – right from the beginning we see him trying to control his anger through a variety of ways. I thought Edward Norton did a good job capturing the mental anguish and inner conflict Banner is going through.
The villain: General Ross
General Ross is a really frustrating villain, though I know he’s supposed to be like that. He’s certainly gone crazy (whether because of power, the knowledge of what has been created by experiments he had a role in, or something else), but he hides it pretty well behind the power of the military. Ross is all about power and using the Hulk to weaponize him, which is pretty scary. He doesn’t care about his daughter or anyone else and that’s scary. He’s literally just the worst.
The other villain: Blonsky/”Abomination”
It’s not enough to have just one villain in this movie – of course we need another one. In particular we need one who has their own super powers that are basically the same as the Hulk’s but evil. Time for some “good Hulk vs. bad Hulk” action! Blonsky was a decent character in the beginning. I liked the way he stood up to General Ross and told him the soldiers needed more information when going in against the Hulk because they were totally blindsided. He stood up for his beliefs at that point and I admired that he would speak up to someone as intimidating as the General. He’s spent his whole life in the military but realizes he’s getting older and won’t be as strong as he once was. We didn’t get a ton of it but I could see that struggle of having one thing be your entire identity in life, only to realize it can’t be forever and you might be left with nothing. This leads to him volunteering to take the serum and from there he just turns into your typical full-on evil bad guy.
The romance: Betty Ross
The love story was a pretty major part of this film and it felt really powerful, especially compared to the disaster of a relationship between Tony Stark and Pepper Potts. Bruce and Betty have some really great character moments and an interesting relationship. If you want an example of unwavering love through all things just take a look at Betty. Even though Bruce has been gone she immediately welcomes him back into her arms without hesitation. The fact that he sometimes turns into a literal monster isn’t enough to turn her away and it’s clear that she will fight for him.
She’s smart in her own right and a strong, powerful character. It’s clear their relationship goes back years and I definitely got that vibe from the way the two characters interacted. I think Betty brings out the best in Bruce… and I hope the reverse is true as well. In this movie we are more focused on a place where Bruce Banner needs Betty, but given the dedication and love between them I have to believe he would do the same for her.
I really enjoyed the first 2/3 of the movie and then they kinda ruined it with the ending. I was very invested in the movie and the characters and found myself hooked throughout. Of course I want to see Bruce catch a break, and seeing him face the challenge of balancing who he really is while managing his anger and this “alter ego” is very intriguing.
There’s some really great themes in this movie as well, but one thing I found really interesting is the way that different people perceive Bruce Banner and his Hulk identity. Overall they treat the Hulk like a disease, and it almost feels like an HIV allegory in some ways – he has to be extra careful when it comes to his blood so he doesn’t infect anyone else, he can’t safely have sex, and he’s treated as something dangerous all the time even when he’s well able to control himself. Tony (not Stark) made a great observation about how different characters see the Hulk. Bruce Banner sees it as a disease that he needs to cure. The government sees it as something to weaponize. Betty sees it as something you may need to live with and figure out how to adapt to it, but it doesn’t mean your life has to be over.
But then the ending. I’m not even sure what exactly was happening. Where are they? Why are there chains everywhere? It never felt like the movie wrapped up adequately. We get a scene of Sterns (Mr. Blue) with an open wound and some of the Hulk’s blood dripping into it and his forehead begins to pulse. Oh no, he must be turning into some sort of villain! Don’t worry though, we’ll never mention it or see him again.
Tony (not Stark) says:
“I actually enjoyed this movie a lot more this time watching it with you and seeing you experience it for the first time. I really paid attention more than I usually do and I appreciated the characters more. However, it still suffers from being the second film in the MCU. At this point Marvel was experimenting and played around with stuff that didn’t really get brought up again in future films.”
10 random thoughts I had while watching The Incredible Hulk:
- Every time Bruce Banner sends an email signed “Mr. Green” I really wish the person he was corresponding with was called Professor Plum instead of Mr. Blue.
- I don’t hate Blonsky because he’s got a point when talking to Ross about their soldiers needing more information for what they’re up against.
- But… now he’s taking some of the super serum so this is not going to end well.
- I love Bruce and Betty together but poor Ty Burrell.
- The whole “heart rate hitting 200” thing is interesting but something we lost in later films.
- *Me going back through all of my running data to see if I ever hit 200 during a run and turned in the Hulk*
- “Okay but if it’s ONLY based on heart rate then it’s not just anger that could turn him into the Hulk? Like what about excitement and if he tries to get with Betty?” 30 seconds later – “yup, okay, I was right”
- Can we stop shooting at him?? It’s been very clear that no gun has any affect on the Hulk so why does anyone keep trying this?
- WHAT IS HAPPENING in the last 20 minutes of this film?? Why are we ruining an otherwise good movie?
- Did he… did he just blow away fire with his fists?
Becky: 8 out of 10
Tony (not Stark): 6 out of 10
What do you think of my Marvel Movie Marathon The Incredible Hulk thoughts?