The Incredible Hulk

I can’t really explain what went wrong with The Incredible Hulk. It was much more of a super-hero movie than Ang Lee’s much derided The Hulk from a few years ago. It did a really good job of pulling in numerous sly references to the ’70s TV show, plus of course to the original Marvel comics. The effects were always spot on, as they have been of late. And I have to geek out a little bit at the way that the various movies are being tied into a cohesive Marvel Universe, just as the comics have always done.

These all sound like pretty good things. And yet, it felt like a late winter release from Marvel a la Daredevil, rather than the summer renaissance they’ve provided so often this decade, most recently with Iron Man. I know that part of the problem has got to lie with the Hulk himself; at least, what I’ve read from 1962-1967 reveals him as an insufficiently interesting character with especially uninteresting villains. And sure enough, the majority of the movie related to Bruce Banner being hunted by the army, angered, transformed, eventually captured anyway, and so on, because the army and General Ross are practically his only interesting foes, and they because of the human element. Which is good and all, but falls flat in an ostensible superhero movie. You need super villains for things to work.[1] If you don’t believe me, ask Ang Lee.

On the other hand, though, whatever pejorative comments have been thrown at Lee over the past few years, the primary flaw of his Hulk was in making a movie whose reach far exceeded its grasp. There are worse epitaphs to be cursed with, and among them is to make a movie that simply didn’t bother to reach very far at all.

[1] And, okay, this had a super-villain. Which was pretty much an alternate brute strength guy who we do not like because he isn’t green and because Liv Tyler doesn’t like him. (Well, and he’s kind of a douchebag.) Still, not much of an improvement on the army, which he is incidentally a part of in the first place. On the bright side, they laid groundwork for the only interesting Hulk villain I’ve seen in the comics to be present in a potential sequel. So that’s something.

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