The Incredible Hulk

Posted on October 22, 2008 at 8:00 am

incredible-hulk-poster-0.jpgIt begins with a zippy credit sequence that dispatches with the backstory Ang Lee’s lumbering 2003 version took more than an hour to slog through. And we’re off! Who cares what kind of gamma rays turned Bruce Banner into the Hulk? We just want to see stuff blow up and crash!

You need to know that while I am a Comic-Con-attending fangirl, Hulk never did much for me, so keep that in mind when I tell you this is only a pretty good superhero movie. I like a superhero who is smart as well as strong. David Banner is a scientific genius, but when the Hulk is hulkified he’s too beasty. On the other side he mostly fights a lot of soldiers with a lot of guns and artillery, not as interesting as one worthy adversary.

There’s the obligatory cameo by Stan Lee. There are the obligatory cameos from former Hulk portrayers Bill Bixby (glimpsed on television in “The Courtship of Eddie’s Father”) and Lou Ferrigno and a cheeky variation on Hulk’s signature line. As always, Hulk has to deal with the bursting seams problem and find some stretchy pants. And as often happens with Marvel heroes, a cure seems within reach just as a greater evil based on the same transformative power requires him to get his Hulk on.

In movies like these there is usually a moment where the hero and heroine have to consult some scientist and Tim Blake Nelson is terrific as the professor who is “more curious than cautious.” Edward Norton is fine as Banner, who must plot and run while keeping his heart rate down to avoid an untimely Hulkization. Liv Tyler is lovely as the love interest but as is customary in these films she has little to do. There are some terrific action sequences. I particularly liked it when the Hulk used a car broken in two as boxing gloves. But it all seems a little antiseptic and over-CGI’d. There are echoes of current events — a reference to Homeland Security, some anti-government talk, and echoes of stories like “King Kong” and “Beauty and the Beast,” but they seem derivative and uninspired. Overall, it’s a forgettable popcorn flick with a too-brief appearance by Robert Downey, Jr. as a reminder of what a great superhero movie feels like.

Parents should know that the film has a lot of action violence, crashes and explosions, firing of weapons, bombs, brief non-sexual nudity (side view in shower), a brief non-explicit sexual situation, and some strong language.

Family discussion: What are the advantages and disadvantages of being “more curious than cautious?” Should Banner allow himself to be “cured?”

If you like this, try: Iron Man and the Spider-Man trilogy. And the Hulk always makes me think of the classic anger rampage scene from Woody Allen’s Stardust Memories:

Related Tags:


Action/Adventure Based on a book Based on a television show Fantasy

13 Replies to “The Incredible Hulk”

  1. I, too, was (and still am) a comic book nerd. But I never got into the Hulk comic books or the TV series. Ang Lee’s version did nothing to disspell my disinterest. As much as I enjoy Edward Norton, I have no interest in seeing the film. It is great that there are nods to Stan Lee as well as the former Hulks of TV fame.
    So I will use my movie dollars to see Iron Man, and maybe Dark Knight. (I never resolved the DC v. Marvel issue in my heart)
    Now I am waiting for someone to make a GOOD version of the Shadow. Also, I would like to see a good version of The Spirit, The Blackhawks (incredibly racist, but so funny and well drawn both by Will Eisner. And I want someone to do Beware The Creeper! But what I REALLY want – I REALLY want Kevin Smith to bring his Green Arrow to the screen.

  2. Was this movie closer to an X-Men or a Spider-Man or a Transformers in terms of its appropriateness for kids? I can handle the comic book book violence and occasional bad language and crude humor. Iron-Man i felt with the weapons dealing, the hero’s behavior in his personal life, and the difficulty figuring out who the good guys were and who the bad guys were that is was too much for my kids. I woud appreciate any comments on the Hulk relative to these other movies.

  3. Thanks for posting Tom999! I’m happy to provide more information or answer questions anytime either via comments or via email at
    This movie is definitely closer to Spider-Man, Transformers, or Fantastic Four in terms of the level of material and its appropriateness for kids. Enjoy!

  4. I had no expectations going into this movie, and was totally entertained. I was amazed at a family who brought a toddler who talked through the entire movie. I was mildly annoyed, (they weren’t sitting that close to me) mostly because I was worried that the child was too young for the movie. Then, after the last action sequence, the tot cried out, “he’s a good jumper!!” The whole audience laughed, it was cute. I still worry about what that kid is exposed to. I’m a bit protective of what little ones watch. Nice review, fun movie!

  5. Just a note, you call him David Banner in the review. The character’s name is Bruce Banner, they changed it to David in the ’70s TV show.
    Yes, I’m a comic geek too.

  6. THANK YOU Todd! I love comic geeks (as you will see when I post about my experiences at Comic-Con next month — can’t wait). And I love people who post corrections. I’ll fix it right away. And a reminder to you and everyone else that anyone who sends me 10 corrections gets a free copy of my book. So, only 9 more to go!

  7. All of you are complete morons & totally Insensitive to the larger more profound issues that the first Ang Lee origin movie revealed. First of all I’m a sex-abuse survivor, & while growing up I, & my brother “got” & understood the Hulk the only way kids could, & stupid grown-ups could not. I can remember reading Marvel-Hulk
    Comic books with Ads for child abuse victims & these ads would feature a raging Huld & a confused/emotionally
    bottled up banner waking up to find himself in a new place, & not knowing how he got there. When I saw the first movie, I was literally crying my eyes out in tears when I saw how innocent, & vulneralble a baby bruce banner was, & how arrogant, cruel,& selfish his bullied father was.. just like the villian juggernaut, both men were physically (not sexually) abused as children by the very men who should have protected them, & later when Divine Karma gives both men un-limited physical power, nothing & no-one on earth can stop either of them. Both of their powers were the effect of having deep post-traumatic-stress syndrome that was repressed until it manifested itself by the way they released them when they became super-human. Betty knew, like I, & all abuse survivors know , that you must place safety checks/boundaries for yourself & especially for the ones you love the most because sometimes they’re the ones that hurt you the most when we blindly trust without discernment. Banner proved it when He almost strangled her to death while cleaning himself off in the lake after turning back into himself. Especially when He said He would never hurt Betty when she revealed to him her dream, & he then admitted to her that when he totally lost control when he became the Hulk, he “liked it”. Rage, Anger, Power, & Freedom. Those were the things that He most remembered as the Hulk while He was Bruce Banner. The Green Hulk was his split-personality when he was a 4 yr. old. when all he wanted was to be left alone. Later when Banner becomes the Grey Hulk, He manifests still another post-pubescent-teenager-personality who can talk, & has reason, but wants nothing but pleasure at the expense of all else.
    He is much more meaner,& down-right darker when he is the Grey-Hulk.
    There is always incredible danger when damaged hurt people are given un-limited power & without being dead-honest-with-themselves wind up hurting the ones they love the most without consciously realizing it or refusing to accept an awfull truth. Banner suffered from
    a multiple personality disorder that was the result of the trauma he suffered as a child from his father,mother’s death, & inability to express true intimacy with others because of fear of being hurt/vulnerable was what Betty was trying to help him with until she became too selfish, greedy, & stupid to know who & what she was dealing with…David Banner was right about her in one respect…Her desire to “Control/Emotionally manipulate ” Bruce Banner because of her own selfish desire for more intimacy & attention from him,as well as her extreme ignorance about his genetic condition or what her bully father did to drive David Banner Insane & was tried to do to Bruce even when he knew he had considered a 4yr. old as “collateral damage” ,put her in extreme physical danger not only by David Banner, but by His Son Bruce as well…not to mention whatever emotional trauma she suffered as a resuld of caring enough to want to help a man that could never fully return or give her the love she needed & chose from Him without the danger of being vulnerable at the cost of her life & a broken-heart.
    In the second movie the cause of gamma radiation hat the effect of bringing out the sub-conscious/repressed desires of Samuel Sterns A.K.A. The Leader/Super-Intelligent Arch-Villain/Nemesis of the Hulk, & the Doc Sampson/Super-Soldier/Abomination-Absolute-Power-Corrupts-Absolutely-Emil Blonsky.
    Remember that Adof Hitler was an abused child & was put into a coma while he was still a toddler by his abusive father that ultimately turned him into the monster that he became…but even on the day of his own suicide, this “monster” still kept a photo of his doting-loving-mother in his wallet which reveals the fact that even Adolf Hitler could express the love a son has for his mother.. how different he might have been had he been given a “normal” childhood.
    On the same exact day, two boys were serving as altar boys in church on opposite sides of the globe. One boy after church service was over was shown kindnes by the priest & given the grace to become the late Bishop Fulton J. Sheen. The othe altar boy was shown great cruelty, humiliation, shame, & pain when he accidently fell & tripped up the priest while trying to assist the him during church service.The priest hit him in front of everyone in a rage, & humiliated the boy in front of the whole congregation. later that altar-boy developed a great hatred for all things religious.That boy would become Joseph Stalin. This is a true story too.
    Napolean Bonaparte was tormented & bullied too by his own fellow cadet-classmen while attending a military boarding school because he was italian I think.
    Remember Columbine High School Anyone…???
    Mother Theresa once said that the reason for all of the chaos in the world today is because of Abortion. Killing innocent babies has divine consequences. Thou shall not kill. Period. It’s your body huh? free-will
    huh? that may be so, but it’s a privelege, & it’s on loan for a temporary-limited time only. We reap what we
    sow. What effects you, effects me, & vice-versa. Whether we like it or not.
    It’s not my place to judge anyone, but people at least deserve to know the truth if they don’t know something, that might help save them, or ease their pain.
    All you people that think the Incredible Hulk is a joke, or is boring better think long & hard about why he is the most powerfull super hero within the marvel universe.
    Stan Lee based The Hulk on the creature “Frankenstein”, even he knew that “although evil may have created him,even left it’s mark on him(Frankenstein), evil did not rule him….& He considered the village mob, &
    Dr. Frankenstein to be the bad guys, & the creature who just wanted to be loved & left alone the “good” guy.
    Tragically in trying to defend himself, innocent people got hurt.
    Theres a reason why marvel comic book heroes & villians were/are the best & why the heroes & villians always start out as beloved friends/family first, & bitter hating enemies later.

  8. I wouldn’t say we are morons cause we don’t get the Hulk. I never realized the Hulk character had an abuse survivor angle. I hear your hurt and as a fellow ” survivor” I hope you are getting some help. You have some strong feelings about the hulk. Wow.

  9. Thank you, Timmah, for this thoughtful response. GILR8, I appreciate your insights into the history and motivation of the character very much but am concerned that most people will not read beyond the insults in your first sentence. Your comments are most welcome at any time but I do have a rule that all comments must be respectful and courteous, so please keep that in mind in the future.

  10. I preferred Ang Lee’s version, but I would have liked this better if they’d been willing to make it a sequel rather than go out of their way to contradict it. I guess I’m in the minority here, but I actually liked the psychological drama aspect of the first, because the most evil character in that film, Talbot, really wasn’t as threatening or interesting as the effect his own father had had on him. I also preferred the first’s characterisation of Ross – this one felt more like Talbot again, instead of Sam Elliot’s more conflicted version.

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