Underrated: The Incredible Hulk

This is a column that focuses on something or some things from the comic book sphere of influence that may not get the credit and recognition it deserves. Whether that’s a list of comic book movies, ongoing comics, or a set of stories featuring a certain character. The columns may take the form of a bullet pointed list, or a slightly longer thinkpiece – there’s really no formula for this other than whether the things being covered are Underrated in some way. This week: Incredible Hulk.

The Marvel Cinematic Universe started off with Iron Man in 2008. You all know that, I’m sure. Just as you know that the second film was Incredible Hulk, released just over a month later. Unlike the other Marvel movies, Bruce Banner is play by Edward Norton in this film, the actor’s only appearance as the jolly green giant. This movie is also slightly harder to find than the rest of the MCU movies because it’s the only one that Disney doesn’t own the distribution rights to, as Universal own the distribution rights to the Incredible Hulk – as well as first refusal on any Hulk movie (which is why you haven’t seen a Hulk movie since this one).

When I first saw this movie I remember thoroughly enjoying the near two hours I sat in the theater, thinking that Marvel had gone two for two with their opening salvo.

Back to the bullet points!

  • Don’t expect to see the humour from Mark Ruffalo’s Hulk. This movie has odd lighter moments, but for the most part it’s much closer to a straight action film featuring a very reluctant hero.
  • Edward Norton plays a very good Bruce Banner. The years of running and hiding are etched into his face and body – do I prefer him to Ruffalo? I don’t know – each man takes a very different approach to the character, neither of which I dislike.
  • Emil Blonsky. I haven’t read a lot of comics featuring Emil Blonksy or the Abomination, but the former marine’s decsent into a power hungry, uh, abomination felt quite believable as the movie progressed. You knew it was coming, it was never a surprise to anybody – except Thunderbolt Ross. But watching a slightly powered up Blonksy thinking he can go toe to toe with the Hulk is…. pretty awesome.
  • The Hulk looks awesome. I enjoy the look of the Hulk in the later MCU movies, but there’s something savage and raw about how this Hulk looks on screen.
  • The CGI holds up. Ten years is a long time in the world of technology, and the advancements are often noticeable in the films of yesteryear verses today. Not so here.

The movie does have its moments where it doesn’t quite measure up, though. The inherent charm of the early (and most of) the MCU movies is missing, but given that this is only the second movie that’s to be expected. the MCU hadn’t found its identity just yet. The chemistry between Liv Tyler’s Betty Ross and Edward Norton’s Bruce Banner is spotty at times, but it’s far from being a reason to avoid the movie.

There’s been a lot said over the years about the MCU, and a lot of people have, and will continue to, overlook this film because, they’ve heard it’s not as good as the rest of the movies released around this Phase in the MCU. It is. But as I mentioned before, it’s also harder to find; it isn’t on Disney+ right now, and I haven’t seen it on Netflix in awhile (bear in mind I live in Canada so this may be different for you).

Thankfully, I still have the DVD I purchased when the film first came out – one of only two MCU DVDs I have since I started going for Bluray with Iron Man 2. If you can find it, then it’s well worth checking out one of the most underrated movies in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Join us next week when we look at something else that is, for whatever reason, Underrated.