Kevin Watches The Entire MCU - The Incredible Hulk
Possibly the most out place feeling film in the entire MCU.
The Incredible Hulk
6/13/08 | Director: Louis Leterrier | Rotten Tomatoes: 67% | Runtime: 112 minutes | Platform: DVD
It kind of took a while, but we’ve finally made it to The Incredible Hulk. It was released just a short while after the Marvel Cinematic Universe began in 2008, but it falls in the timeline somewhere around here. In between Iron Man 2 and Thor. To this day, it remains the only solo Hulk film in the MCU and due to the rights of the character, that most likely won’t be changing anytime soon.
Right off the bat, we must discuss the obvious casting change. For this 2008 iteration, Edward Norton portrayed Bruce Banner. He does a much better job than Eric Bana did with the character in the rough 2003 film, Hulk. However, I think Mark Ruffalo, who went on to replace Edward, is a better fit. Even with that elephant in the room out of the way, there’s still one major flaw that this movie has when looking at it as part of the MCU. It feels way out of place.
The tone of the movie is just off. It's probably not something you'd notice it if you watch this on its own. However, in the grand scheme of things and especially when viewing it next to other MCU properties, it just feels so different. There are almost no jokes and it feels kind of gloomy. Part of the reason could be because this film was distributed by Universal Pictures and it’s the only movie released under that umbrella in the entire MCU. That, combined with the recast of Hulk, makes this a movie most consider skipping in the series.
One of the biggest problems I have with this movie is Liv Tyler (Betty Ross). Considering she’s Bruce’s love interest and the daughter of General Ross (William Hurt), who goes on to eventually play a bigger role in the MCU, you’d think she’d be mentioned at some point later on. Yet, she’s only ever spoken of in this movie. But, that’s not my issue with her. Her performance here is just flat out bad. I hate being so negative, but it’s grating. She whispers most of her lines in a way that is just annoying and she lacks any kind of chemistry with Norton. There’s a severe lack of urgency or interest in everything she does. It’s so bad that I’m glad she was never brought back, despite it being a bit of a plot hole in later movies.
There is a place where the film succeeds in a great way, and it’s probably not where you’d expect. The score is just brilliant. People often overlook how valuable a strong score is. Think back to The Dark Knight, for example. Hans Zimmer’s score is one of the best things about that movie. Here, Craig Armstrong does a great job giving us some tense music for chase scenes, the right kind of somber tones for the emotional stuff, and even when they bring out the infamous Hulk “Lonely Man” theme, it is subdued enough to not feel like overkill. Along the lines of playing the old Hulk theme, there’s a lot of fan service in this one. The theme was one thing and I liked it being thrown in there. Some stuff felt way too on the nose and purely there for the sake of the Hulk fanboys. Lou Ferrigno, the original Hulk, gets a random appearance in one of the better moments like this. However, you can’t help but roll your eyes when Banner holds up a giant pair of purple pants. It’s too much. Also, they seemingly killed of Stan Lee in his cameo. He sips the infected drink and technically should've died. Don't kill Stan Lee. That's a bad move.
In terms of villains, other than General Ross, there’s Tim Roth as Emil Blonsky. For most of the movie, he’s just a generic soldier who is hell bent on beating the Hulk because…reasons. He’s never given much in terms of motivation, except that he keeps losing to Hulk. He eventually transforms into Abomination, a giant monster to rival Hulk. Their big fight scene disappoints because it’s hard to tell what’s going on and the effects are rough. Even though many of these films are about a decade old, their effects hold up. This one doesn’t. On the flip side, I did enjoy the way the film doesn’t show Hulk right away. The first scene where Banner turns keeps him in the shadows, building to the first true appearance. That’s a good thing.
To close this out, we’ll look at the MCU connections, because that’s important when looking into a universe like this. Honestly, there aren’t many. You do get a few instances of Stark Industries stuff and of course, there’s the appearance of Tony Stark himself in the final scene. That’s it, though. In fact, it takes nearly a decade for General Ross to appear again and almost none of the characters show up again. The story also ends up not meaning much, as Hulk’s triggers for changing, his love interest, and how he controls his transformations are all completely revamped when he reappears in The Avengers. It’s almost as if this isn’t in the MCU.
It’s not a bad movie, but it does feel strange being part of the larger MCU. The CGI is rough and the acting leaves a lot to be desired. That being said, the direction is mostly strong, the score is great, and it’s a relatively fun movie. On its own, it probably works much better than being part of the MCU.
Next up: A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To Thor’s Hammer