The Marvel Cinematic Universe: The Incredible Hulk (2008)

| April 7, 2019

For better or worse, a generation is now growing up with the movies of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and whatever that says about the direction of Western Civilization will be left to history depending largely on who writes it. 
Avengers: Endgame brings the hammer down on this series on April 27th, so for the next few weeks I am going to take a look back at the films that have built a massive phenomenon.  Are they any good?  Let’s take a look . . .

Image result for The Incredible Hulk 2008

I think it is clear by now that Hulk by himself doesn’t work as an entity onto which you can build a convincing story – he only has one speed and it is a limited one at best.  For anyone to tackle this character, the focus must remain largely on his alter-ego.  Bruce Banner bears a curse fit for Shakespeare.  When he becomes angry, he becomes a super-rage green behemoth who is capable of decimating an entire city block with the power of his fists.

This material was tackled previously in Ang Lee’s badly received (and grossly underrated) Hulk five years earlier.  That movie shook the world in a very bad way.  It spent most of its running time dealing with Bruce’s volcanic relationship with his father.  And, as much as it was hated by the public, did turn the story in a logical direction.

The MCU version does away with the daddy issues and tries to tackle the Hulk/Bruce duality in much the same way that the Bill Bixby TV series did, showing us a brilliant man whose life has been sidelined as he searched for a cure for what ails him.  But what the movie needed in order to capture the spirit of the TV series was a sense of melancholy, the story of a genial, good-hearted man whose pursuits at bettering mankind are sidelined by a mistake caused by his own hubris.

Instead The Incredible Hulk goes for a lighter tone and so what we get are in-jokes and action scenes that undercut the drama.  The movie’s third act is a crushing manipulation of pulling out an equally destructive bad guy named Abomination so the audience can get it’s money’s worth.  In doing so, the story goes out the window.

I am more interested in the science at work here. I realize that in a smash-and-bash action movie the hard science is simply connective tissue that pulls together the action scenes, but I would be interested in knowing how a man’s level of accelerated blood pressure causes a metamorphoses that gives him super strength and the body of Mr. Universe? What makes him green? How is he able to take so many bullets without bleeding? Is his skin bulletproof? What causes Banner to grow from a 6 feet to 12 feet? What is the time between his fits of rage and when he becomes Hulk? What is the downtime before he changes back? Why am I having to ask questions that the movie should be answering?

About the Author:

Jerry Roberts is a film critic and operator of two websites, Armchair Cinema and Armchair Oscars.