Movie: The Incredible Hulk
Jon Favreau, quite rightfully, received a lot of attention both before and after the release of IRON MAN. From the announcement that he would be directing Marvel Studios first major movie release, he stepped forward and assured fans that he would be doing his best to see that the movie under his helm would be an accurate and faithful adaptation. Along the way Favreau won the trust and, in the end, the adulation of comic-book fans the world over. From the perspective of Joe “I’ve never heard of Iron Man” Public, Favreau took a b-list superhero and turned him into a household name. No mean feat. However, by comparison, Louis Leterrier had a much larger — and greener — task: Reboot THE INCREDIBLE HULK.
I’ve made no secret of my disappointment with Ang Lee’s 2003 take on THE HULK and, to be completely honest, felt that if this new version was to have any success at all then it would do so purely on the coattails of Favreau’s blockbuster efforts. There was no doubt in my mind that The Incredible Hulk would be the Ying to Favreau’s Yang.
I’m not at all suggesting that I felt Leterrier to be an incompetent director, anything but! I enjoyed the TRANSPORTER movies enough not to count them as a black mark against his name, and I think that UNLEASHED (aka Danny the Dog) is one of the most underrated action films of the last few years. Honestly though, I can’t even name a director who, had they been attached to this film, would have been able to satiate my fears.
However after actually seeing the film I have to confess to have been utterly put in my place. There is no doubt in my mind now, that Leterrier has taken Zak Penn’s screenplay (which was given some doctoring by Edward Norton) and produced an incredible Hulk movie which not only holds its own alongside Favreau’s efforts, but complements it and propels Marvel’s vision of their universe on film a huge leap further.
It’s hard to know exactly where 2003’s The Hulk stands in relation to this film, however it’s fair to say that they pay only a passing glance towards the origin events which took place in it and then move on quickly to this next chapter in the lives of the characters. In many ways this movie really does feel more like a descendant of the Bill Bixby television series of the late sixties than a sequel to the previous movie. There are more than a couple of nods to the series: Of course there’s the fact that Lou Ferrigno’s cameo actually made it into this film, a fun take on the “You wouldn’t like me when I’m angry!” warning, and I caught myself quietly applauding the inclusion of a cameo by Bixby (who died in 1993) himself.
There are also plenty of references to the external Marvel universe (pay close attention to some of the names which appear on the screen during the opening sequence). However all of these things are simply icing on the giant green cake that this film is.
I wont say that The Incredible Hulk is all action, because it’s not. What it does though is give you enough time to bond with the characters to the point that you actually give a rats ass about what happens to them — something that the Ang Lee film never managed — and because you care, the action takes on much more value. It goes without saying that this is a far more action-oriented film than Iron Man, but the two work extremely well off each other and, in my mind, they are very much ‘The Road to The Avengers’ Parts one and two. While you don’t necessarily need to have seen Iron Man to appreciate The Incredible Hulk, it’s a strong suggestion that you do – if only because both movies kick very much buttock.
Norton is great as Banner, in a lot of ways he’s Edward Norton with the ability to turn big and green, but there’s no denying that he’s in the moment and you’re on the ride with him from the very beginning. Tim Roth really is an unlikeable bastard, but he comes off like a puppy next to William Hurt (doing his best Sam Elliott) as General Ross. Even — and I can’t believe I’m saying this — Liv Tyler manages an endearing and emotional performance as Betty.. I KNOW, right!
Again, I really don’t want to spoil this film for anyone. So let me just say that I spent the last fifteen minutes of this movie with my fists clenched and feeling every bit of the action… No matter how far you are away from the screen, when the Hulk kicks someone in the nuts, you’re gonna feel it.
Oh, and there’s no need to stay until the end of the credits (unless you feel the need to appreciate all involved). If justice is to be served, this will be considered the first Hulk movie of Marvel’s golden age of film… So says the Leader [source]