The Incredible Hulk Retrospective

16th Aug 2022, 5:46 PM
In honor of achieving my primary goal of making the current chapter longer than the Incredible Hulk chapter and the upcoming premiere of She-Hulk (and having a day off where I feel comfortable procrastinating on everything else that needs doing), it's time for a rewatch retrospective on the second MCU release, The Incredible Hulk!

Stray observations while watching:
  • I'll admit, I do miss these opening credit sequences for superhero movies with stylized fonts and thematically appropriate graphics over dramatic music. I know they've pretty much just moved to the end credits now, but still. Done right, they were really good at getting you pumped up for what was coming (then again, this movie, Spider-Man, and X-Men all proceeded to slow down immediately afterwards if memory serves, so maybe that wasn't a good thing after all?).
  • Quick little references to Stark Industries, Nick Fury, and S.H.I.E.L.D.
  • Also Rick Jones! He's probably never showing up at this point. :D
  • God this first bit's just reference heavy, even Bill Bixby gets in on the action. I wonder if Eric Bana's ever going to get a nod.
  • Portuguese Grover just sounds... wrong to me.
  • Banner has 7 PhDs but struggles with basic Portuguese. I know these two things aren't actually related to each other, but it still strikes me as funny.
  • "You wouldn't like me when I'm angry" is one of those lines where I genuinely can't believe we've never gotten it played straight. Kind of like how long it took to hear "Avengers Assemble".
  • while Bruce pricks his finger for a microscope sample "What happens if he gets some kind of bacterial infection from contaminated equipment? I know Hulk seems to stop him from dying to blunt force trauma and other such things, but does it help with illnesses?"
  • I hope Stan Lee's character didn't die from the gamma blood Pingo Doce. That'd hit too hard now. :(
  • The fact that Ross not only gets away with all the shit he pulls (including but not limited to using military resources and personnel for law enforcement purposes) but gets promoted to Secretary of State eventually is... depressingly realistic.
  • Good thing Blonsky shot that dog or we'd never know he was a bad guy.
  • I feel like after five years on the run Bruce should be... at least slightly better at acting natural than he is?
  • Chase scene is well shot, though. It feels properly constricting and frantic.
  • I wonder how much Coca-Cola paid for all the advertising? I don't really have a problem with it, it's just hard to miss.
  • I think the added body-morphing effects would be difficult, but man. The Hulk's first appearance in this movie is so tinged with monster movie vibes that it makes me want an Immortal Hulk movie yesterday. If you haven't heard of it, it's a 50 or so issue run starting in 2018 by Al Ewing, and it's some of the best Hulk stuff I've ever read.
  • Admittedly Hulk looks a little... PS3-ish now, but he still doesn't look bad, and it completely validates the choice to keep him hidden while still giving us that full-scale environmental destruction you want from a Hulk fight scene.
  • I understand compartmentalization of information, but you might want to warn your guys about the giant green rage monster.
  • Sad walking away music is, I think, just one tier below the Spider-Man theme and the X-Men theme in terms of recognizability, so well done using it.
  • as Banner starts walking home "Does Hulk transformation do anything about starvation or fatigue? These are the questions."
  • As much as I would've preferred to focus on the gamma side of things, I do appreciate how well this movie ties in with Captain America regarding the super soldier serum.
  • You can tell it's early days MCU because as far as I can tell, not one name on the board at Culver University (aside from Betty Ross) is a comics reference. XD
  • Ty Burrell is criminally underutilized in this movie and if they ever get him back to be Doc Samson I will flip my fucking lid with joy.
  • Lou Ferrigno may be immediately recognizable as the TV Hulk, but for me he'll always be himself but beating up Jason Segel in I Love You, Man.
  • Is it standard practice for university computers to just a have an encryption shortcut on the desktop?
  • On the flipside my reaction if Liv Tyler came back as Red She-Hulk would be much more ambivalent. Also I'm curious how many gamma mutates we can combine together namewise. Can we have a Red-She-Hulkling Abomination?
  • The double-edged sword of skipping the origin story is that you're dependent on the actors to sell pre-existing connections, and I'm not sure Tyler and Norton really do that here? I guess it fits with Banner being a more subdued character than Hulk but it doesn't necessarily play the best.
  • Banner's gag reflex (or lack thereof) is pretty fucking astonishing.
  • They definitely do a good job showing Hulk as a pretty much unstoppable juggernaut. Even Blonsky's explosive rounds seem to piss him off more than anything.
  • I know these jeep-mounted sonic cannons are supposed to be the Stark-designed ones, but it seems like they don't do quite the same thing? I wonder if it's a Hulk-anatomy problem or a "they didn't the right frequency" problem. Or maybe both. Paralyzing him outright would've been much more effective, is all I'm saying.
  • I feel a little cheated we didn't actually get to see Blonsky get sent flying from Hulk's kick. But only a little.
  • More proof that Hulk still has a little bit of Banner in him, it'd take more than a little eighth-grade geometry to throw a piece of metal at a helicopter that precisely.
  • We immediately get a reason to hate Samson followed by a reason to love him. Bring this man back!
  • Hulk is mad at Thor for ruining his moment.
  • Forget the Red Skull, Blonsky's the Red Everything after the beating he took.
  • "The circumstances called for a little improvisation." Liiiiiiittle hint of what would become Ruffalo's Hulk in there, so at least it's not entirely incongruous.
  • USB glows green when it's plugged in. Nice.
  • "You know, I know a few techniques that could help you manage that anger very effectively." Okay, two hints.
  • Really, just bring back everybody at some point. Tim Blake Nelson does really well with what he's given for Samuel Sterns.
  • Betty being able to help pacify mid-transformation Hulk is one of those things I've never really thought much about, but not only does it work with the idea of Hulk being connected to (if also still distinct from) Banner, it sets a nice precedent for the "sun's getting real low" thing in Age of Ultron.
  • Move over Dr. Michael Morbius, Samuel Sterns is clearly the superior hematologist.
  • "Why are you always hitting people?" I know the MCU occasionally has a problem with too much humor, but I feel like this one could've used a little more, this line still gets a pretty decent chuckle.
  • "The mixture could be... an abomination". EYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY THERE IT IS!!!
  • Nice job not bringing the clearly unstable super soldier with you and leaving him with all the gamma equipment, Ross.
  • The lack of ear fins is regrettable, but the Abomination design is still solid anyways.
  • Good hero moment from Bruce, being willing to risk a transformation just because he knows they need the Hulk to stop Abomination.
  • We need enough moments of Bruce basically dying before Hulking out to make a montage, funny every time.
  • Oof, I thought it was just Hulk and Abomination that looked a little rough in this final fight but even the helicopter looks like it's from a video game.
  • Have we seen the shockwave clap since Hulk used it to put out the copter fire? I don't think we have?
  • There are some really creative strategies/environmental use here though, however the CGI looks. Ripping out  Abomination's elbow spike and stabbing him with it feels like something out of a Mortal Kombat finisher in the best way possible.
  • Hulk busting out those Spider-Man parkour skills while running away.
  • I think it fits the "monster movie lite" vibe of this movie that the ending is ambiguously sinister, between Bruce purposely inducing a hulk out and the last scene that comes immediately after being Tony showing up to talk to Ross about a vague problem.

The Incredible Hulk is... not a bad movie. Ultimately I think its long-term reception was hurt by a combination of being a more serious (downright gloomy in a couple points) movie and the lack of follow-up. There are MCU movies that I think are objectively worse in terms of structure, narrative, and tone that I'll still watch more often than this movie, just because they're either more fun, or because I'm doing rewatches for a particular character or something similar. It doesn't even really feel like a crucial introduction for Bruce Banner, since this movie compresses the details of his origin into the opening montage and a quick recap from Ross, the first Avengers movie works about as well as a debut for him anyways.

There's speculation that Marvel might get the distribution rights back for Hulk soon (if they haven't already), and if that's true, I hope we can get some more development for Banner and the Hulk both. With any luck we've got She-Hulk to help dive into the rogues gallery and other gamma mutates, but Banner deserves some more exploration himself, without his character progress being relegated to offscreen in team-up movies. stares at Smart Hulk

Anyways, thanks for reading, feel free to comment with your own thoughts on the Incredible Hulk. The Captain America retrospective will be coming with the end of the chapter as normal.


16th Aug 2022, 9:54 PM
while Bruce pricks his finger for a microscope sample "What happens if he gets some kind of bacterial infection from contaminated equipment? I know Hulk seems to stop him from dying to blunt force trauma and other such things, but does it help with illnesses?"

Good question. If this was Hulk circa the 90s (in the comics), I am pretty sure it did help. I am glad you realize, though, that a nebulous super power like a "healing factor" can vary greatly in what it does or does not treat. Time for my usual GURPS reference; there were so many times where a "single power" that belonged to a comic book character actually involved around half a dozen different "Advantages".
17th Aug 2022, 12:10 AM
Oh yeah, pretty sure more recent Hulk interpretations would bounce back from it as well. But pondering the ins and outs of superpowers is one of my favorite thought exercises, even if it mostly boils down to "what does the writer want it to do?". Doesn't help that I'm also a pretty big One Piece fan, where creative-bordering-on-semantic interpretations of various powers are a pretty big staple.
17th Aug 2022, 7:30 PM
It should come as no surprise that I am also a One Piece fan, and current with the manga (though behind on the anime). Creative uses of a power is definitely a thing there as well... including the almost silly because of wordplay and what not.

With an RPG like GURPS, it all depends on the setting and your Character Points. If the GM okays it, and you can afford it, you can buy it... because "silly" is sometimes a legit power! XD
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