Quarantined Avenger: Hulk

During quarantine one finds themself spending more time than they should by themself, which really forces you to be honest with yourself. In this quest to watch every movie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, in release order, I believe I must be honest with not only myself but those of you reading. There are 2 and a half marvel movies I have never seen. The Hulk is the first.

There is no rhyme or reason to why I missed this movie when it was in theaters. As big and green as he is, those purple shorts just slipped under my radar.

As soon as I hit play, I realized I could have lived without seeing this movie. I’m green with envy (sorry it had to be done) of those who’s eyes have never been privy to this film.

The first thing this movie gets right is showing the origin of Hulk in the opening credits. I think they are some heroes that large movie goers aren’t aware of, that necessitate an origin telling. But quite a few heroes like Batman, Spiderman, and Hulk, need not waste time on retelling the origin. This worked great while the credits rolled to freshen people’s minds of who Hulk is as a character.

The movie as a whole speaks largely on how I feel about Hulk in solo projects whether film or otherwise. The character of Hulk is incredibly tough to breathe on its own in a 90 minute film. Hulk is a fantastic character with much to play around with, but by himself its challenging to make him his own.

This is so evident in the Incredible Hulk film. The movie overall lacks direction and purpose.

Does it want to be a monster movie? Does it want to be a superhero movie? Does it want to be both? None of those questions are answered.

If this movie were to have leaned into the monster genre, while sprinkling in bits of MCU superhero bits, this could have been amazing. Imagine a full fledge Hulk monster movie, that’s a Hulk movie with great potential.

Since 2018 Al Ewing has been writing Immortal Hulk. That is a phenomenally scary and brilliant take on Hulk. I speculate if Ewing were writing it a decade sooner it would have heavily influenced the making of this Hulk movie.

Future MCU movies would prove the ability to produce a superhero movie that also fulfills the category of another genre of movie like bank heist or comedy or sci fi. But the Hulk did not deliver. The film seemed to dip it’s toes into multiple genres without ever really going swimming.

The movie starts in Brazil and the whole time I was wondering if I’d missed the previous Hulk movie that explains why he is in Brazil. The beginning is so long too. It just goes on and on and on. Not every superhero movie, needs to be non stop action minute to minute, but something needs to happen, besides Edward Norton sitting at a boxy computer awaiting an IM message.

The villain in this movie comes off as a carbon copy from the previous MCU film, Iron Man. One scientist envious of Bruce Banner’s work, thinks he can use it better only to be so corrupt with evil it backfires, forcing Bruce Banner to be Hulk and save the day.

In the end this movie does not benefit much to the MCU. Even the actor playing Hulk put the purple shorts back in the closet. Edward Norton was destined to star in Wes Anderson films. The saving grace, with having seen the future is that Mark Ruffalo plays an exceptional Hulk. None of what transpires in this Hulk movie, is referenced in any following MCU movies. And I don’t think any fan has made a complaint about it.

At the beginning I was happy that this wasn’t an origin film. Though in retrospect this movie might as well have been an origin film. That movie may have had more substance in it.

A stylistic highlight of the movie was the ‘Days without incident’ counter. That was a simple touch that added an extra element to the screen literally on screen.

A lot could be said about the special effects or the lack thereof. It’s hard to criticize the film for the effects because the MCU was so green (pause for laugh track) and a majority of the early MCU films’s special effects are pretty dull compared to the newest ones.

On the legal pad where I take notes on each of the MCU movies, I scribbled ‘Charlize Theron Might Joe Young’. It was not until just now that I recalled why I madly wrote that down amongst my Hulk notes. No Theron is not in Hulk (though she would have made more enjoyable). But there were scenes with Hulk and Betty Ross that gave off Charlize with the gorilla in Mighty Joe Young. The monster and dame trope.

Though yet again, this movie failed to lean it or really commit to any sense of identity at any point in the movie. A Hulk film with Bruce Banner concocting scientific discoveries combined with elements of a monster movie would have served as a great formula for a solid Hulk film.

As an afterword, I think the Hulk would enjoy being quarantined. I think that’s all he ever wanted. Bruce Banner could conduct experiments and from time to time he could Hulk out with no fear of repercussion.

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