Written by: Zak Penn
Starring: Edward Norton, Liv Tyler, Tim Roth, Tim Blake Nelson, Ty Burrell, William Hurt
With all things being equal, one thing you can count on when it comes to the United States military is that if they can weaponize something for their own good, they will most certainly try it. Whether it be more advanced weaponry or even a gamma radiation-infected large hulking monster that lacks self-control and destroys everything in its path. Certainly not the best things to try and control but it allows for some nice destruction in this iteration of The Incredible Hulk.
After experimenting with a long-awaited super soldier serum mixed with Gamma radiation, Bruce Banner suffers from turning into a large green monster when his heartbeat reaches a certain level. This makes him adjust his life in a manner to stay away from others but ultimately does not provide rest as General Ross (William Hurt) will stop at nothing to ensure he can control and utilize Banner to the benefit of the army.
Taking place during the early days of the Marvel Cinematic Universe which they distributed with Paramount, this feature feels like a complete relic compared to what the world of comic books looked like. Released around the same time as Iron Man, this feature gave another crack at bringing the Hulk character to the big screen following the misfire of the Ang Lee film a decade prior and this film needs to contend with the same issues but does so to a much more impressive degree,
Focusing on Banner and his moral and ethical dilemma in his own existence following him having this affliction makes for a much more engaging film and one where he wrestles with what he does thus seeking solitude. It certainly has its insightful moments until the narrative remembers its purpose and decides the time to start smashing things arrives as most of Harlem gets destroyed to a piece of rubble. However, putting all of that aside, this feature brings a much more compelling portrayal of Banner, which Edward Norton handles very well. You can see the anguish this causes him making the moments when he needs to utilize his hulking ability all that more powerful as he needs to let go o reaches a distinct level of desperation.
With this starting to build the foundation for what the Marvel Cinematic Universe will become this occurs in the most organic matter possible partly because it only had Iron Man to build off of. This feature obviously feels very standalone in the story it wants to tell. The film has its own beginning, middle, and end even if we know it will carry on with a different actor to continue the story of this green beast and the other mighty Avengers. In a way being this early in the game works to the film’s benefit and allows for the story to feel much more self-contained and impactful as a result.
Action remains the name of the game for these Marvel films and this iteration of the Hulk certainly ups the game in the visual effects department and how it displays the fight sequences. Having to take on Abomination allows for some wicked damage to a city but it all looks very good for it being the early stages of the cinematic universe. The effects on the Hulk character looks precise in displaying his features and it allows us to be even more engrossed in the story. A tangible nature to him exists, which makes the action sequences where they throw cars at each other have weight to them rather than just looking like a video game cutscene and a sense of real damage occurring.
Certainly enjoyable in its own self-contained manner, The Incredible Hulk proves to be an insightful and entertaining film surrounding a big green hulking figure. It allows an actor of the caliber of Edward Norton to step in and work his magic with this role and presents a character worth following and a narrative worth watching. Everything culminates in a large final battle resulting in some terrible damage requiring some repair but the ride before it gets to that point also provides entertainment and makes for something worth seeking out rather than just a film to watch to become a Marvel Cinematic Universe film completionist.