THE ROAD TO ‘INFINITY WAR’ – ‘The Incredible Hulk’ (2008)

The MCU's sophomore outing just doesn't hold up quite as well as the other entries.

Review by J.T. Johnson

ORIGINAL RELEASE DATE: June 8, 2008
DIRECTOR: Louis Leterrier
CINEMATOGRAPHY: Peter Menzies Jr.
WRITER: Zak Penn
MUSIC: Craig Armstrong

Believe it or not, Marvel was already releasing more than one film a year before it was cool. Only one month after the release of the phenomenal “Iron Man”, Universal Pictures and Marvel Studios released “The Incredible Hulk”. Originally, the film was supposed to be a direct sequel to the 2003 film, “Hulk”. Thankfully, when Edward Norton signed on to star in the film, the decision was made that the film would be an original story and inspired more by the 1977 TV series.

Now, this film does not get a whole lot of love these days from fans of the MCU. In fact, people didn’t respond too much when the film was released either. The movie only went on to make $263.4 million worldwide against a $150 million budget. To be honest, I do understand why people react more negatively to this film.

The movie is rather slow as we follow Dr. Bruce Banner (Norton), a man on the run from the military after experimenting on himself with gamma radiation. The result of this experiment is the fact that Banner turns into the Hulk if anything gets his stress levels too high. The main man trying to capture Banner is General Thunderbolt Ross (William Hurt), a man that also happens to be the father of Banner’s former girlfriend, Betty Ross (Liv Tyler).

It takes forever for us to get our first full look at the Hulk. For the first part of the film, Banner is trying to find a cure and not be the Hulk. The first time we see the monster, it is in a darkened warehouse and mostly in silhouette. Finally, we get to see the Hulk in all his glory on a college campus and only after he is attacked by Thunderbolt’s men.

The slow pace of the film is not its only problem as the dialogue leaves something to be desired as well. There are no memorable quotes aside from the time when the Hulk finally gets to shout his famous line, “Hulk smash!” Basically, the dialogue is filled with a bunch of cliche lines such as when Thunderbolt says, “As far as I’m concerned, that man’s entire body is property of the U.S. Army.” Or something like that… Again, I can’t really remember anything.

To be fair to the movie, it does have decent performances from pretty much all of its leads. Norton made a good Bruce Banner, but now that I’ve seen Mark Ruffalo in the role multiple times, Norton does feel a little out of place. Also, while Tim Roth is good as Emil Blonsky, he is yet another villain that falls on MCU’s list of underdeveloped villains.

The action, when it does occur, is pretty fun and 10 years after the film’s initial release, the special effects do hold up well for the most part. I remember liking this film quite a bit when it initially came out, but I must admit that better films in the MCU and better uses of the Hulk in those films have dated this entry. I must admit that “The Incredible Hulk” may be my least favorite film in the MCU.

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