I’m now going to be a complete hypocrite because in my Green Hornet review I said that Marvel had ruined all superhero films. This isn’t actually true. They have watered down the whole genre meaning that you almost have to do something completely different with every single superhero film to stop yourself from making something generic and average. I thought Thor and Captain America were average. They portrayed their superhero’s brilliantly but I’d already seen that kind of superhero film with Iron Man and the Incredible Hulk.
That meant that when I re-watched the Incredible Hulk, I thought it would fall into the average trap, but actually it holds up well. The Incredible Hulk is a difficult superhero to put on film. He’s ridiculously powerful and strong so you have to come up with a good enemy for him to fight at the end. You also have to have him lose or struggle half way through so you can see that he is vulnerable and flawed, something for him to work past for the climax of the film.
The Incredible Hulk does both of these things. First they have the Abomination as his enemy. A monster that is seemingly stronger and faster (and can actually talk) so gives the Hulk a proper challenge. Halfway through they have the Hulk fight the army in what I think is one of the coolest parts of the film, actually cooler than the final battle. This is his vulnerable part, the moment where he lets go and even hurts people he probably shouldn’t.
You also have to have something else with a Hulk film… the change! Once you’ve seen him change once, that is it, you’ve peaked! He can’t change the same way again. This is important because what sets him off and the way he changes are key parts of the Incredible Hulk character. This film gets past that brilliantly. The first couple of times Hulk is in the film, you don’t actually see the change. The fight with the army is our first proper glimpse at the full Hulk and that is done behind smoke and has the best reveal of the Hulk proper in the whole film! The final change is the best idea of the whole film. Having him change as he falls from the helicopter shows a fan wrote the film, conveying something you’d expect to see in the comics.
That is the key after all. Marvel changed the superhero film in the most positive way. Because they owned the characters and they employ the writers of the comics, they had the perfect source of material. Before Marvel came along, superhero films were more of a shell of the actual hero. You got away with it just being cool to see your favourite superhero in live action so could change key parts of their origin story to suit your film. (Tim Burton’s Batman had the Joker kill Bruce Wayne’s parents!!!) You can’t get away with that anymore. Marvel have made sure that the films convey the origin story as close to the original source material as possible. I think they are producing a generic superhero film but at least its one that’s true to the character and the comics they come from.
The Incredible Hulk is a little bit of a weak link in the Marvel Studio’s grand plan of having all the heroes come together to form the Avengers film. First of all, they already have to deal with an actor change. Edward Norton is brilliant as Bruce Banner, a weak, tortured scientist that becomes a huge, powerful but fundamentally good monster. For whatever reason he has left the character and now we have Mark Ruffalo, who I’d never of thought of casting in a million years. I don’t think he’ll gel or sit with the character like Edward Norton seemed too… but I won’t make a proper judgement until I’ve seen the film.
In all the promotional material for the film, The Incredible Hulk hasn’t really been included. Now this is probably because he hasn’t been CGI’d yet but it feels more like it’s because he isn’t being treated as a proper part of the team. I already predict that the Hulk will be the reason the Avengers come together in the first place and then will be the final weapon they need to defeat whatever threat is trying to destroy Earth.
Overall, the film is really good. Not close to the best superhero film ever (The Dark Knight) but I think it’s better than Thor and Captain America. I am beginning to think I’ll need to give them a second chance too. That will happen, I’m going to watch them all in a geeky superhero marathon before Avengers this summer. I just really hope they don’t overlook one of the coolest superheroes Marvel has in favour of the “new guys.”
(1 – Awful, 2 – Average, 3 – Good, 4 – Great, 5! – Must See)