The next film my wife and I enjoyed on our road to Age of Ultron was the Incredible Hulk. I know, this is out of order, since we have already watched Iron Man and Iron Man 2. I’m sorry, that’s all I can say. We had planned it all out and somehow had this one scheduled after the first two Iron Man films. I got called out for it on Google +, and I wish I could go back and fix it, but unfortunately, I can’t, so you are all stuck with reading a review for The Incredible Hulk, after my review for Iron Man 2. I promise I will keep the rest of them straight from here on out.
It’s hard to really place this film in the MCU. It is, in a lot of ways, the awkward uncle that’s definitely part of the family, but everyone is just fine seeing him only on major holidays, because he just doesn’t fit in. There are a lot of reasons for that, in my opinion. The first thing is what is this movie, exactly? Is it a sequel to Hulk? Is it a re-boot, meant to launch a series of Hulk centered films? Or is it just one chapter in the Avengers Assemble storyline? Another thing is the fact that this film, this one film, is Universal. The other MCU films prior to all coming under the Disney umbrella, were all Paramount. This one film stands out as the only Universal film. Then there’s the Edward Norton aspect. He is only Bruce Banner in this one film. That’s it. In fact, we have seen three different versions of the Hulk, and Mark Ruffalo is the only guy to play Banner twice now. Taking all of this into consideration, it is sometimes hard to see where this film fits into the grander Marvel scheme.
The truth is, this film does fit in with the rest of the MCU films, in that it is really a great movie. In almost every way that Hulk failed, this movie was a success. This was obviously not a sequel, and they let us know that right at the beginning when they retold the origin story of the Hulk, and it was different, slightly, from the previous movie. That was all we needed to know. I hope they revisit this concept with the next Spider-Man film- condense the origin story down to the opening credits and then jump into the action. I loved that when I watched it this last time. I really hope they do something similar with Spider-Man. Just like Spider-Man, we all know the basic story of Hulk’s origin, so no need to go into super fine detail.
Despite not being an origin story, the film does quite a bit to develop the Bruce Banner/Hulk character. In this film, we get a sense that Bruce is really all alone and wandering the Earth. He wants to get rid of the Hulk, find a cure. We see him trying to learn how to control his anger. He doesn’t want to control Hulk, he wants to subdue him totally. That’s his goal. We also see that Hulk is not a mindless beast. He knows who Betty is, and he wants to protect her. Despite all the destruction he causes, we also see that he is really the victim here. He is being attacked again and again, and he is just trying to protect himself.
We also learn in this movie that here is a tie between Hulk and Captain America. Before we have even seen Cap on the big screen, General Ross has already exposed us to the idea of a super soldier, and Hulk was the result of one of their attempts to re-create the super soldier experiment. Of course, Banner realizes that they would never be able to control an army of Hulks. Or even just one, which is all they would need.
Overall, this is a pretty good film. I am not a huge Hulk fan, but this movie is probably my favorite telling of a Hulk story. It has the despair of being alone, plenty of action, and some pretty good humor. Going away from Edward Norton, though a fine actor, in favor of Mark Ruffalo was the right choice. I enjoyed Ruffalo’s Bruce Banner more than Norton’s. Norton was just to unemotional, to removed. I didn’t feel anything for him. Buffalo brings in all the emotions that Banner should have, and does it well. Despite that, I would say that everyone keeps looking for a Hulk film in the MCU, and when are they going to announce a standalone Hulk film, and I say we have this one already, and it’s not too bad.