The Incredible Hulk is a 2008 film, the second of phase 1 of the MCU that we are going to discuss in our column The Myth of the Superhero. The film is directed by Louis Letterier. There was a first Ang Lee film called The Hulk and the protagonist is played by Edward Norton, who also contributed to the writing of the screenplay with Zak Penn. In this reboot, Bruce Banner undergoes the experiment on purpose and is not accidentally hit by Gamma rays to save another scientist. The giant is not an evil homicidal ogre, but a titanic creature who wants to be left alone by men, who do not. The cast includes Liv Tyler, William Hurt and Tim Roth.
Don’t Make Me Hungry. You Wouldn’t Like Me When I’m Angry.
The Incredible Hulk -Plot
Scientist Bruce Banner is desperate for a cure to annihilate the effects of gamma radiation that have poisoned his cells, unleashing an uncontrollable raging force within him: the Hulk. Forced to live in the shadows, far from a normal life and the woman he loved, Betty Ross, Banner struggles to escape his nemesis, the obsessive General Thunderbolt Ross, who tries to capture him with his military machine to exploit his power.
I am assuming that the Hulk as a character I have always liked very little. The film, although it is studied to the best, with a good script and excellent performers, even discreet special affections did not convince me. And he is the only one in the MCU to have left me rather indifferent.
Edward Norton is certainly a great performer and credible too, but he just doesn’t seem like a credible Bruce Banner to me. I appreciate the basic idea that sees him as a brilliant scientist, an intelligent man, who offers himself for an innovative experiment for his own and others’ careers, but who simply becomes a victim of it when it does not go as scientists expected. At that point what does he do? He tries to get rid of the beast.
I note in this film the clear and eternal metaphor of Doctor Jekyll (Banner) and Mr. Hyde (Hulk). The basic ethics of the antihero are also noted. It is not the protagonist who becomes a superhero, as Bruce Banner loses himself when he gets angry. He becomes another, literally. The green titan takes possession of his body and it really cannot conform to the rules of human society.Banner does not agree to lose control and reveal the violent nature of being hidden within himself. I imagine that if the scientist was not already harboring a strong repressed anger, being hit by gamma rays would not have led to the birth of the monster. The Hulk is therefore the result of long-sedated feelings and a desire for rebellion exasperated by the scientific experiment. The psychological component and progress are the basis of the green titan.
General Ross (who is also the father of Bruce Banner’s only love) is the adversary, a control freak. He wants at all costs to harness the superhuman power of the Hulk, considering him a threat, unable to understand that he would not behave like this once in peace by the army led by the General himself. In a desperate attempt to destroy the monster, the general creates an even worse one.
Muscles or brain? In this film he seems to win the second when Bruce Banner eventually learns to dominate his monster.
The concepts are right, but not engaging, at least in my opinion. I see the Hulk as a means to an end and not a real superhero. I wouldn’t want to antagonize those who love the green titan. The curious thing is that Norton could have played the Hulk in the following films, especially in the series dedicated to the Avengers and the infinity saga, but the production did not close the agreement and therefore he was replaced by Mark Ruffalo. The latter has been able to give another facet to Banner. Norton was more determined and fiery like Bruce Banner, while the latter shows the character from the more human and insecure side, scared of himself and what he might do if he loses control.
To sum up
I remain of the idea that the film was not a great success and that replacing the interpreter was of little use, it is the character itself who does not show an interest in carrying on values.
Who personally could identify with or be passionate about the Hulk?
I certainly don’t.