Bruce Banner continues his quest to find a cure for his problem in The Incredible Hulk, namely turning into a raging green monster in times of stress. Meanwhile the US Army are tracking him down for their own ends and have a secret weapon to bring him down.
First things first, this is not the Ang Lee Hulk from 2003. That was an altogether different beast and, although it was to be applauded for coming at the subject matter in a unique way, it was just too cerebral for the audience it should have been aimed at. This is, if not a direct sequel, a reboot of sorts. It wastes no time in getting into the action, using the opening titles to cover the origin story, and avoids the heavy symbolism that afflicted the first movie.
Marvel Studios have deliberately sourced exceptional talents to make their movies and the acting talent on show here continues that trend. Edward Norton as Banner takes his role seriously enough to make you believe in all the nonsense and even had a hand in the polishing of the script – something he is known for. As his adversary we have Tim Roth who turns in a ruthless performance as Emil Blonsky who, in the original comic, became the Abomination, an inexplicably amphibian version of the Hulk himself. For this film they wisely toned down that aspect but retained the genuine threat to our jolly green giant. William Hurt, another respected actor, plays against type as General ‘Thunderbolt’ Ross, the gruff, macho Army man obsessively chasing Banner down, firmly believing he is government property.
There are numerous nods to the classic TV series of the 1970’s as well as the Hulk’s comic book history. Real geeks will spot Lou Ferrigno in a walk-on role as well as plenty of characters who loom large in the comics (but not in this film). Most importantly, it was this film, along with Iron Man, that heralded the build up to the Avengers movie. The countdown started here.
All in all The Incredible Hulk is a fast-paced movie with plenty of thrills and spills. More emphasis on the Hulk himself means it never gets boring but leads us to wonder… how will they sort out those anger issues to make him a team player?