Due to popular success of “X-Men,” several Hollywood Studios attempted to capitalize on the success of Fox’s first installment of the X-Men franchise and M. Night Shyamalan’s cult classic “Unbreakable,” Sony was the first to successfully earn critical and commercial success with Sam Raimi’s “Spider-Man.” While some including “Daredevil,” “Catwoman,” “Fantastic Four” (2005) & “Elektra” were total misfires. Universal Pictures decided to plant their own superhero franchise by adapting Stan Lee’s iconic big green giant known as “Hulk.”
Hulk was released in 2003. (same year X2: X-Men United came out) It was a box office success, however, the film received mixed reviews from movie goers, comic book fans, and critics alike. As a result of underperforming at the box office, a trilogy was cancelled. Five Years Later, a reboot titled, “The Incredible Hulk,” starring Edward Norton earned better praise.
Fun Fact: Edward Norton (one of my favorite actors) was originally gonna star in the 2003 version of the film, but rejected the opportunity to star in it, because he disliked the script, five years later he went on to co-write and star in The Incredible Hulk reboot set in the Marvel Cinematic Universe or MCU for short.
The big reason why I wanted to write about this superhero film, is because Hulk is gonna appear in “Thor: Ragnarok,” which is the third solo film for The God Of Thunder himself, Thor.
This review contains SPOILERS, read at your own risk.
Incredible & Savage Elements
Incredible: The Marvel logo is green as in the titular character.
Sam Elliot and Nick Nolte’s performances were alright. They were the only good actors in the film.
Danny Elfman composed music for the film. As you may know, he also composed the Tim Burton Batman movies & the first two Spider-Man movies.
Bruce Banner/Hulk’s father is named David. This is a reference to the 70’s TV Series The Incredible Hulk starring Bill Bixby as Bruce Banner, and Lou Ferrigno as Hulk.
Hulk fighting The Army in the desert, was pretty good.
Stan Lee and former Incredible Hulk actor Lou Ferrigno, have cameo appearances.
The Best Scene is when Hulk hangs onto a Jet Fighter, while going sky high.
When David Banner swells into a giant bubble, this is an homage to the anime film/manga, “Akira.” It’s also one of my favorite movies.
David’s powers is the ability to touch anything and absorb. A nod to Hulk and Thor’s foe The Absorbing Man.
According to Ang Lee, the film is influenced by “King Kong,” “Frankenstein” and Greek mythology like “Hercules.”
Bruce’s last lines in the film is the infamous, catchphrase, “Don’t make me angry, (beat/dramatic pause) you wouldn’t like me when I’m angry!” Is taken from the TV Series.
2003 was a trend for characters prone to getting angry. Besides Hulk many hotheads were featured in movies/shows/video games like David Buznik from “Anger Management,” Wolverine in “X2: X-Men United,” Stitch in “Stitch The Movie,” Raven from the original “Teen Titans,” Yusuke from “Yu Yu Hakusho,” Homer Simpson in “The Simpsons: Hit And Run” Jak in “Jak II,” Willie from “Bad Santa,” Raphael in “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2003,” Tasmanian Devil, Marvin The Martian and Yosemite Sam in “Looney Tunes: Back In Action,” Goku and Vegeta in “Dragon Ball Z: Budokai 2” & Gimil in “The Lord Of The Rings: The Return Of The King.” That’s enough to fill in a group therapy.
Velvet Revolver’s song “Set Me Free” is played during The End Credits. The band was formerly led by the late lead singer of Stone Temple Pilots, Scott Weiland and guitarist Slash.
Savage: Ang Lee (Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, Brokeback Mountain, Life Of Pi) didn’t do so well making Hulk’s big screen debut. He’s one of the most divisive filmmakers.
Lack of Action Sequences. If you’re gonna make a comic book adaptation of a beloved superhero you gotta have non-stop action filled with destructive cars and buildings collapsing.
Eric Bana’s performance as Bruce Banner/Hulk, felt underwhelming. Dude take some happy pills and invest emotionally. If I were Eric, I would’ve listen to Heavy Metal/Hard Rock bands like Rage Against The Machine, Metallica, Megadeth, Mastodon, or Sex Pistols to get into “The Energy.” Similar to Daniel Day-Lewis’ preparation for his role in “Gangs Of New York” by listening to Eminem in order to get into the angry mood. I have nothing against Eric, he’s a good actor in “Chopper,” “Troy,” J.J. Abrams’ “Star Trek” & “Munich.”
The infamous gamma radiation scene at first, was promising, until it ends with Bruce, waking up in bed healthy as a horse. Dang it Ang you missed the bullseye with only one arrow!
Editing is pretty bad. Did Ang Lee hired a Monster Energy addict? Take notes filmmakers, approve on the editor’s constructed work before moving on to distribute.
Talbot’s death scene is pretty stupid.
The C.G.I. isn’t on the same level as MCU Hulk. It seems very fake like The Rock in “The Mummy Returns” or a PlayStation 2 character.
Chemistry between Bruce & Betty felt underwhelming. I never cared about their relationship.
I swear to god I’m not joking, Hulk fights gamma induced dogs. This actually happened. Don’t tell me, the writers didn’t select a second lieutenant or right hand man from Hulk’s rogue gallery to match his powers. His enemies from the comics are The Abomination, The Leader and Wendigo. It’s as if Ang never read a comic book in his life.
After his fight with the gamma dogs. For the love of cinema there’s a butt shot of Hulk. It could be worse, he woulda wore a thong.
Marketing for the film promised us Marvel fans we were gonna get an action packed fun ride. Turns out the actual film is a drab.
I’m not gonna lie, you’re gonna have to wait for 42 minutes until you see Hulk’s first scene. Where’s the main attraction if you can’t begin your circus without your main star?
Hulk’s facial design reminded me of Fred Flintstone mixed with King Baratheon’s. Does “Viva Rock Vegas” ring any bells?
Whenever I hear Hulk’s roar, he sounded like Chris Farley (god bless his soul) screaming at the top of his lungs. It made me cringe and laughed at the same time. His roar lacks ferocity.
Every time I see Jennifer Connelly opening her mouth, I keep thinking of Patrick Star (SpongeBob’s best friend) drooling.
The First Act is filled with too much exposition. “Batman Begins” worked by using flashbacks to explain Bruce Wayne’s past during his training to become a crime fighter. Christopher Nolan didn’t cram one conversation after another, he did a bunch of extensive research on the mythos to create a three dimensional character, because he understands Batman’s lore. Hulk isn’t a tragic hero, he doesn’t need a Grungy/Emo backstory, all you need to know is the gamma radiation experiment vola!
The Final Verdict: C-
The best way I can describe this movie is, “Ehh.” Nothing exciting just a colossal disappointment. I’m glad Hulk is now a part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe with Mark Ruffalo wearing the purple shorts after Edward Norton decided to call it quits. Gosh darn it I miss Ed as Bruce Banner/Hulk. He’s my personal favorite Hulk actor.
Let’s hope we get another solo Hulk movie. He deserves another shot. Come on Disney, Hulk is overdue for a stand alone sequel.