When his cover is blown thanks to an accident in a bottling plant, Doctor Bruce Banner (Edward Norton) returns to the United States to seek the help of a mysterious ‘Mr Blue’ who may hold the key to undoing his Gamma poisoning. But General Ross (William Hurt) is hot on his trail, along with Emile Blonksy whose determination to be the one who brings the Hulk down leads him to taking an experimental super-soldier serum with disastrous consequences.
Not quite a reboot, not quite a sequel to the interesting if weirdly cerebral 2003 “Hulk” movie, “The Incredible Hulk” neatly sidesteps the issue of its ancestry with an opening montage retelling the origin of The Hulk, also paying homage to the Bill Bixby TV series as it does so. There’s an economy to its storytelling that deceptively makes it feel largely disconnected from the emergent wider MCU but in retconning Banner’s original Gamma Ray experiments as part of a military attempt to restart the super soldier serum project, it lays the groundwork for “Captain America: The First Avenger” and one of the ongoing threads running through the MCU, the attempt to recreate super soldiers.
There are other linkages. It shares its predecessor’s approach of grounded, real-world+ technology and even manages to slip in some references to Stark technology (the man himself turns up at the end of the movie) but there’s still a hesitancy, a cautious safety net meaning everything is kept distant enough that had the shared universe thing failed to take off, this could have led to its own franchise for Universal/ Marvel.
Now sort of the forgotten stepchild of the MCU and mostly remembered for its lead actor’s stroppiness and eventual replacement (leading to its feeling of estrangement from the rest of the series), “The Incredible Hulk” features some decent action, good performances and a few lovely nods to the comics, such as Betty (Liv Tyler) and Hulk at the cave mouth but never feels as confident or vital as its fellow pioneers. There’s still some nice foreshadowing, such as General Ross lying to Banner about the nature of his work setting the scene for “Captain America: Civil War” but all in all this one’s an easy punching bag for the bottom of the MCU pile.
If anything, it feels a little like we get further away from the idea of Infinity Stones.
Bruce Banner (Edward Norton), General Ross (William Hurt) and a bunch of other characters who, to date, haven’t reappeared.
Bill Bixby is seen on TV, in a clip from “The Courtship of Eddie’s Father” and Lou Ferrigno (who also voices the Hulk) plays a security guard. Stan Lee gets his cameo out of the way early as the poor guy who gets an unexpected Gamma boost to his Pingo Doce guarana soda.
Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr) joins General Ross for a drink, in the last scene of the movie.
As things stand, this is the only Marvel Cinematic Universe film that contains neither a post-credits nor a mid-credits scene.
- Iron Man
- The Incredible Hulk