We watch it Admire films in the right order as part of a regular feature. Here is Part one about Iron Man, In case you missed it. This article will focus on The Incredible Hulk, the second movie on the MCU timeline.
When you look back on The Incredible Hulk, it’s hard to believe that it’s the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s first sequel to Iron Man. It’s even harder to believe that it’s part of a superhero movie dynasty.
If one thing is clear, this Hulk movie starring Ed Norton is considered the MCU̵
Sins turned into tragedy
The Incredible Hulk is primarily a drama and tragedy that feels like it was in the era of old superhero films. The flawed hero droplet we explored in Iron Man 2008 also applies to this film, although it’s addressed differently. Bruce Banner’s past isn’t as changeable as Tony Stark’s, but it is ruled by a major flaw. In a failed gamma experiment, Bruce Banner turns into a monstrous being of incredible strength when angry. It is a moment that curses his life and changes it forever. It’s a story we all know so well.
One of the great things the MCU recognizes is that most of their heroes are well known. Enough not to capture every one of his films with an unnecessary origin that most fans or viewers already know. A good five minute montage tells us everything we need to know about the accident that made Bruce the Hulk. Meanwhile, the rest of the film is devoted to Bruce, who has been the Hulk for years. We watch him strive to stay out of reach of the military who want to arm the Hulk as he tries to find hope to heal himself from becoming that dangerous monster that destroys everything in its path.
A danger to yourself and others
The Incredible Hulk’s biggest mistake is that it takes itself too seriously. If you look again, you’ll find that the ease found in most MCU movies is almost nonexistent. There are some moments that release the tension, but they are all too short. The film shows the boundary between this gloomy, dark action film and the classic superhero frenzy. There are several factors that could have contributed to this. It could be the fact that the film was made in association with Universal Pictures, or Edward Norton’s supposedly heavy involvement in the script. Either way, Norton’s performance sets the tone and focuses on drama and action.
What I found most interesting about Norton’s banner is how hopeful and determined it is. This is still a Bruce Banner who believes there is a chance he will go back to normal. Right from the start, Norton’s Banner has been a desperate figure who had to live with the danger and destruction the Hulk leaves behind.
It’s a sharp contrast to Mark Ruffalo’s gentle and tired take on the character we’ve met. What is clear is that Norton’s interpretation of Bill Bixby’s appearance as Dr. David Banner in the 1970s television show The Incredible Hulk. In fact, the whole film mimics that nomad story to the point of teeing off. It’s lonely, it’s sad, and you feel bad for Bruce. The movie is straightforward to make sure you understand this plight. Ultimately, this approach works and at the same time it doesn’t. These themes fit the character of the Hulk, but no longer the Hulk we want to see. It’s not an engaging movie, especially if all you want to do is watch the Hulk smash things up.
Faulty, but not voluntary
The incredible Hulk doesn’t do anything wrong with the character. It pegs Banner’s struggle and desire to protect the world from itself. It even follows the MCU’s flawed hero theme. It is really easy. In Iron Man, Tony Stark tries to be a hero while overcoming his ego and past sins. Bruce Banner, on the other hand, has a monster that is prone to anger.
In fact, Banner does not fully understand the Hulk himself and treat him seriously. He dismisses the Hulk and tries to suppress him, making each subsequent Hulk more violent than the last. The great tragedy of The Incredible Hulk is that despite Banner’s various attempts to get back to normal, the painful truth is that the Hulk will always be there.
As the second film in the MCU, you can clearly see the growing pain of using special effects across the universe. The Hulk in this movie isn’t exactly the high point of CGI, and the movie itself doesn’t match the size of the character. It seems like it was easier to make a flying armor suit in 2008 instead of a giant green monster.
Compared to the Hulk we see in the Avengers films, he’s even less impressive in comparison. However, if you look past the dated CGI, the action scenes with banners are still great to watch. They carry the kind of destructive action you would want to see from a Hulk movie. What’s especially great is the interplay between the Hulk and General Ross armada of soldiers at the university.
Connection to MCU disconnected
The Incredible Hulk isn’t entirely sure he wants to be part of the MCU, which is strange considering it’s the second entrance building for a series of interconnected films. As a fan of Marvel and after watching 10 years of their films, you are trained to spot different Easter eggs. You’ll notice the various references to Shield or Captain America’s Super Soldier Program, but they’re minimal and easy to miss. Aside from Robert Downey Jr.’s cameo as Tony Stark in the opening credits where he goes to General Ross to tell him about the Avenger Initiative, it’s understandable to believe that The Incredible Hulk is a unit of its own.
The film’s identity is confused by Marvel’s loose recognition in future films. The only main character to repeat his role from this film is William Hurt’s General Thunderbolt Ross, who doesn’t even interact with Ruffalo’s version of Banner. Ed Norton’s recast with Mark Ruffalo expands the rift of The Incredible Hulk’s MCU even further. When Norton’s Hulk is desperate and hopeful that there is a way to get rid of the Hulk once and for all, Ruffalo’s Hulk is a version of Banner who is tired and has accepted his fate to some extent. Ruffalos Hulk is troublesome and chaotic but can be seen as a force forever. His character arc in the Avengers films even leads to the Hulk becoming a hero.
This is the Hulk we want to see, and what is missing in the Banner / Hulk dynamic in The Incredible Hulk. We get shadows of the idea of Hulk as a hero throughout the film: Hulk saves the love interest Betty Ross (Liv Tyler) and towards the end, where the Hulk battles the Abomination and prevents them from tearing Manhattan apart. The problem is that most of the film is focused on Banner’s struggle to heal himself rather than on his journey to live with his alter ego, which the Hulk’s appearance perfected in future Avengers films. In a way, this film taught the MCU what worked, what didn’t, and what direction the character should go.