“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.”
I feel this was the feature I was dreading most when rewatching the MCU in preparation for Avengers: Infinity War.
It’s not that The Incredible Hulk is a bad film.
When compared to some of the non-MCU films (*cough F4NTASTIC FOUR cough*) it definitely holds itself high.
But when you leave it in the canonical state it is within the MCU, it lacks the muscle to lift itself up any further.
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, General Thunderbolt Ross (William Hurt), Banner soon comes face-to-face with a new threat;
A supremely powerful enemy known as The Abomination (Tim Roth).
While smart in how it re-presents the origin of the The Incredible Hulk, I couldn’t help but notice how the film valiantly attempts to stride between legacy and future.
On-screen info flashes up like comic books bought to life, while straight-to-cam shots bounce characters like paneled artwork.
And while I can appreciate the attempt, the execution is lacking.
Is it due to Norton’s loss of conviction in the role as the back-office politics of the film grew? Or maybe it was Leterrier finding success in The Transporter and trying to bring that across to a growing franchise.
Sloppy direction around the visuals see criminally overused glow-eyes all over the show, along with a constant reach at “LOOK! We’re paying homage to the TV show and not that OTHER Hulk film!”; I personally found Family Guy‘s use of the ‘Lonely Man’ theme more evocative than it’s use in this film.
At the same time though, this is where the majority of its success lies; In the fact that it was this thing that fell apart slightly in the scheme of things, and helped correct the path for where the MCU was heading.
That’s not to say it doesn’t have any other merit, with William Hurt proving so successful in his portrayal of Thunderbolt Ross that he returns later in Captain America: Civil War.
To come back to its comparison to other Marvel films, Again, it’s not a bad film.
But where it lands among 16 other films in a canonical timeline is far shorter than the jump Hulk can make.
In fact…it may not even be a step.
And that’s just not good enough for the strongest there is.