Movies: The Incredible Hulk

Since I enjoyed Iron Man, my husband suggested last summer’s The Incredible Hulk. I’ve never been particularly a fan of the Hulk in any of his incarnations (comic book, TV, or movies), but I readily agreed. After all, I had some mending to do, and I prefer to do it while watching a movie good enough to keep me interested but not so gripping that I forget to keep the needle moving.

I do vaguely remember the TV version of The Incredible Hulk that was on when I was in high school. I didn’t watch it myself, but my best friend did, and she had some sort of crush on Bill Bixby – or was it on David Bruce Banner? Anyway, I watched it a few times when I was staying over at her house. I didn’t really see the appeal of Bixby/Banner, but I thought I understood the appeal of the show.

I don’t remember if I read this, or if my friend told me this, but the appeal was apparently because this was one hero who had a big problem he couldn’t control, and that way ordinary people could identify with him. Since I only watched a limited amount of TV and hardly any movies, I had little idea just what most on-screen heroes were like, but it does seem that heroes used to be more larger-than-life, and no more obviously flawed than the diamond in my engagement ring (I’m sure it’s not absolutely perfect but it would take someone with a jeweler’s expertise to determine that).

I don’t know how much the success of that TV series affected how script writers portrayed heroes, but it seems that they’re all pretty flawed these days. Someone who is as good a person as Banner was, and even at his worst (as the Hulk) so kind and gentle that he didn’t actually hurt people (a comment on the show at points out that he just stopped the bad guys from hurting others and trapped them so the police could come get them), might stand out for his saintliness compared to today’s antiheroes.

The Hulk in the 2008 movie may not have intended to hurt anyone other than the villain, but it’s hard to think that the soldiers who came against him could have escaped injury, when he destroyed the sonic cannon they were using against him, for instance. And the impression one is supposed to get from the monstrous CGI Hulk is far from the gentle giant portrayed by Lou Ferrigno.

That didn’t particularly bother me, really – on the whole it’s a good movie. But it seems to have been made (no surprise here) for those who love big action movies and impressive special effects. The movie has extensive chase scenes, and lots of fighting, all of it escalating as the movie progresses. Comments at used words like “badass” – in a very complimentary manner.

Some comments also praised the movie for its character development, but I really don’t see that. Banner starts the movie hiding and running, and finishes it the same way, without any real change in his character or goals. (Why should he change? He’s already a good guy.) One villain gets worse – so extremely that it is not quite believable. The other villain seems to learn something, but it’s hard to say how much.

I was happy to finally find a comment at that matched my own impressions. Blonsky’s transformation to the Abomination does not really make sense, and the last twenty minutes of the movie go overboard in the extent of destruction. But (this person points out) that’s what most people who go to a Hulk movie are looking for – “big battle scenes and lots of bruising action.” And the lack of those is what disappointed so many people with the 2003 Hulk movie.

Now I am intrigued. Ang Lee’s 2003 movie, I learn, wasabout psychological exploration of its characters. One comment says that “What Ang Lee has tried to achieve, namely merging the pulp-story of the Hulk with the scale and drama of a Greek tragedy has been well achieved. ” The problem with it, this person points out, is that “this movie does not know who it’s aimed at.” Neither people looking for a big action movie nor those looking for more of an “art movie” are satisfied because it’s a hybrid of both.

Sounds like it might be my kind of movie.


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