Monday, June 16, 2008

Movie Review: The Incredible Hulk

First some definitions.

Retcon: When you change the back story to allow something you're doing now to work better.
A good example of this was in Spiderman 3 when they tried to implicate Sandman in the death of Uncle Ben back in the first movie.

Reboot: When you've screwed the story up so badly the only thing left is to go back and start again.
The Batman movies are good example of this. Michael Keaton and Tim Burton did a good job. Once they left it all went to hell. So they started over from the beginning again with Christian Bale and Christopher Nolan.
Superman did this when they claimed that 3 and 4 didn't exist when making 5.

"The Hulk" came out in 2003 with Eric Bana and Jennifer Connelly. While the fight scenes between The Hulk and The Army were pretty awesome there wasn't much else about the movie to like. The story was all screwed up, villains were altered horribly, and they tried to make it a comic book movie instead of a superhero movie, if you catch my meaning. It was a disaster.

"The Incredible Hulk" opened Friday. It is NOT a sequel to the 2003 version. This is a reboot. I know, usually they wait a decade or so before rebooting.
The cast was completely changed. The origin was changed again. The fight scenes aren't up to the 2003 movie's standards but everything else was much improved.

Instead of telling the origin story right up front, as they usually do in a superhero movie, they reveal it in flashes in the opening credits and then again slowly as the movie progresses. I don't think I'm giving away any great spoilers when I say that instead of a proper gamma bomb test, or even the gamma based medical research from the 2003 movie, this time Banner was working on a revived Super Soldier program and experimented on himself. After injuring Betty he fled to South America like he did at the end of the 2003 movie. So this movie almost seems to pick up where "The Hulk" ended.

Banner keeps chatting with a Mr. Blue who knows him as Mr Green and is helping him work on a cure for The Hulk. Considering all the crossovers, spinoffs, and buildups that Marvel is doing in their movies these days I half expected Mr. Blue to be Reed Richards of the Fantastic Four. But considering how wrong everything goes they couldn't cast Reed in that role.

This movie seems to be based fairly heavily on the TV show from the late 70's. There's lots of running from the Army and looking for a cure. But there's also a big comic book villain and the promise of another for the next movie.

Things to look for.
Stan Lee is the guy who drinks an infected bottle.
Lou Ferrigno is a security guard just like in the 2003 movie. He's also the voice of The Hulk.
As Bruce Banner is flipping channels we see an old show starring Bill Bixby.
Bruce gets a package addressed to David Banner. They used the name David in the TV show because the producers thought the name Bruce was too gay.
In the opening credits you'll see the name Nick Fury on a document.
The full name of SHIELD appears a time or two.
The name "Stark Industries" appears repeatedly.
And you can hear the song "The Lonely Man" played as Banner walks in the rain.

I can excuse you not knowing the song "The Lonely Man". Go hear it at

The movie ends with Banner fleeing into Canada. I doubt they'll do anything with this, but that's where Wolverine ended up going, too. But it's a big country, right.

This is the second of a series of movies in which Marvel is building up to a much bigger movie. The first was "Iron Man". If you sat through the credits of "Iron Man" you saw Samuel L Jackson appear briefly as "Nick Fury". A lot of people sat through the credits of "The Incredible Hulk" hoping for something else and were disappointed. However, Tony "Iron Man" Stark approaches General Ross at the end of this movie and mentions that he and some others are starting something.

I'm told there are 70 minutes of footage that was cut. This had the makings of a "Lord of the Rings" length picture. I'm also told that footage will be on the DVD. Among other things there's a scene where Bruce Banner has a nice chat with Captain America. Steve "Captain America" Rodgers was the result of the original Super Soldier program back in WWII.

So I will be getting this on DVD.

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