It’s been 30 years since the Incredible Hulk appeared on a screen. The year was 1978. Bill Bixby played a mild-mannered man whom people always seemed to make angry one way or the other. While the TV show only saw a four-season run, it left a lasting impression on many of its fans.
Getting its start as a comic book created by Stan Lee, the Hulk has seen success as the big green monster. Although I wasn’t alive when either the comic book or the TV show debuted, I was able to watch the show on syndication; thanks to my mother, who was a fan.
When the 2003 remake debuted, it tanked with most critics as well as at the box office. Based on the critics’ reviews, the less-than-appealing trailers and the fact that when the movie was leaked on the Internet, it was described as pretty awful, I skipped it.
Fortunately, Writer Zak Penn and director Louis Leterrier decided that the 2003 version did not do justice to green monster, so they remade the remake. I’m glad they did, because The Incredible Hulk (the movie) is incredibly good.
The obviously computer-generated green monster aside, this movie delivers. Penn explored the Hulk’s soft side – even when he is the monster, he still has a heart and a conscience.
And by subtly delving into the dynamics of their relationship, Penn demonstrated that even though Dr. Bruce Banner (played by Edward Norton) is the ultimate protective boyfriend, he still needs his girlfriend, Betty (Liv Tyler), to take care of him; Hulk or human.
Cleverly, Leterrier gives the back story in the opening credits, so as to not take away from the run time explaining things. Leterrier’s style of direction is apparent by how his actors seem to bounce off of each other quite nicely, and branch out in their characters.
Speaking of characters, Tim Blake Nelson as Dr. Samuel Sterns is a riot. His oblivious portrayal of an excited scientist is pretty good comic relief. Tim Roth does it again as the
European villain. No stranger to this type of role, Roth is unsurprisingly good at being bad. And, playing against type, William Hurt, as General Thaddeus “Thunderbolt” Ross, Betty’s dad, is convincingly mean.
Casting Norton as Bruce Banner was a shrewd choice. The actor usually plays the protagonist, but is so good at his craft that he’s in no danger of being typecast. The only time I’ve ever seen Norton as an antagonist is in the movie American History X. And, even then, he ends up being a good guy.
Tyler also gives her all to her character. The daughter of Aerosmith front man Steven Tyler, she was just some rock star’s daughter some years back. After her father featured her in a few of his videos, her career took off. From that moment on, Tyler has blossomed into a fine actress in her own right.
Old-school Hulk fans will enjoy the cameo by Lou Ferrigno. Playing a security guard this time, and lending his voice to the computer-generated Hulk (you could call him the stand in); Ferrigno played the Hulk in the TV series.
Stan Lee (The Hulk’s comic book co-creator) plays a man infected with gamma-irradiated blood that accidentally spilled from a cut in Banner’s body.
And, in a not-so-subtle hint of summer blockbusters to come, Robert Downey Jr. makes an appearance as Tony Stark, Iron Man’s alter ego.
The entire movie is engrossing, humorous, exciting, and suspenseful – a great homage to the TV series that started the Hulkmania in the first place.