I have often wondered what exactly the people who made the calendar/dating system had against February. I mean, why exactly did they decide to give it the short end of the stick as far as the number of days in the month, then decide to throw it a bone every four years and give it an extra day. But enough about that. Today’s movie was the second entrant into the MCU and came out just one month after Iron Man. Hoping to cash in on the success of Iron Man, and hoping that comparisons to Ang Lee’s Hulk wouldn’t keep people away, the studio had high hopes for The Incredible Hulk.
The plot: Bruce Banner, a fugitive from the U.S. Army, is hiding out in Brazil, where he works as a day laborer at a local soda factory. While helping to fix one of the machines, Bruce cuts his finger and has the owner stop the machine so he can clean up the blood, not noticing a nearby bottle that some of the blood had dripped into get filled up with the soda and shipped out. As he leaves work for the day, he saves a famale co-worker that was being harassed by some other workers, then meets up with a man who gives him a package. Returning to his apartment, Bruce pulls out a laptop and after connecting to the internet, begins online chatting with a man named Mr. Blue. The package contains a flower which Bruce hopes will be able to cure the gamma mutation in his blood but when he tests it on a single drop, it doesn’t work. He reports the failure to Mr. Blue, Mr. Blue tells him that they should meet but when Bruce says it is too dangerous, Mr. Blue says to send him a blood sample so he can try to help, which Bruce reluctantly does. Some time later, General Thunderbolt Ross receives a report of a man who received gamma poisoning after drinking a soda. Ross, finds out where the soda is bottled then has a team assembled, including Emil Blonsky (on loan from the British Royal Marines) to go in, tranquilize Bruce, and bring him in. In Brazil, Bruce receives a message from Mr. Blue saying that he might be able to cure him but he needs more data, which Bruce does not have available. That night, Blonsky leads his team to Banner’s apartment but when his dog hears something, Banner decides to run, with Blonsky and his team giving chase. Bruce ends up running into the men that were harassing his female co-worker and they chase him into the bottling plant where they start to beat on him. As Blonsky and his team arrive at the plant, Bruce transforms and quickly dispatches of the men and when Blonsky and his men attack, easily takes care of them before he escapes, with Blonsky being the only one to survive unharmed. Later, Blonsky meets with Ross and asks for some answers to what happened and tells him that if Ross is going after that thing again, he wants in on the team. Ross confides to Blonsky that he was working on revamping the old Super Soldier program from WWII and Bruce’s work was early stage, under the guise of gamma resistance but when he tested it on himself, something went wrong. Ross then asks why Blonsky hasn’t been promoted and after Blonsky responds that he is a fighter and wishes he had the body he had 10 years ago with the knowledge he had now, Ross says he might be able to help him with that. Meanwhile, after waking up in Guatemala, Bruce makes his way back to his old lab at Culver University in Virginia, but seeing the security system in place, does not go inside. He tries looking up Betty Ross, his old girlfriend and Thunderbolt’s daughter, but noticing she is with someone, decides to see his old friend Stanley, who owns a local pizza shop. Stanley tells Bruce about Betty’s new boyfriend offers Bruce the spare room over the shop for him to use to rest. Disguised as a pizza delivery boy, Bruce is able to sneak into the lab and use the computers but is unable to find his old data in the system and contacts Mr. Blue to relay the news. Bruce packs up his things and goes to say goodbye to Stanley but as he starts to walk into the shop, he is spotted by Betty, who had just come in with her new boyfriend, and he quickly runs out the back door. Betty runs out after him but when she doesn’t see him, she questions Stanley as to whether it was really Bruce, then gets in her car and finds him, convincing him to come back to her house. At her home, Betty gives Bruce their data from the experiment, saying that she got it out of the computer before her father and the military took everything. When Bruce says that he has to leave in the morning, she agrees to give him some cash and help him get to the bus station. Meanwhile, Blonsky meets with Ross, who says he will give Blonsky a low dose of the revamped super soldier formula but if there are any side effects, he will pull Blonsky until he is back to normal. The next day, Betty is saying goodbye to Bruce when Bruce notices some military men approaching and tells Betty to run before he takes off. Bruce makes his way through the college grounds, spotting Blonsky chasing after him and makes his way to the college library, where he swallows the flash drive with the data on it. Betty sees the command vehicle approaching and stands in front of it until her father emerges from it and confronts her. When Bruce is cornered in an overhead walkway, Ross orders gas canisters fired to try and knock him out. When Betty runs towards Bruce and is stopped by some of the soldiers, Bruce becomes angry and transforms into the Hulk, smashing out of the walkway. Ross orders his men to attack, and when the guns don’t work, he sends in Blonsky, who is able to avoid the Hulk’s attacks and lure him into the path of two Humvees armed with sonic cannons, which stop the Hulk in his tracks. When the Hulk sees Betty pleading with Ross to stop, he is able to use a piece of metal as a shield to blunt the sonic attack, allowing him to destroy the two Humvees. Blonsky disregards orders and attacks the Hulk but after he runs out of bullets, the Hulk kicks him in the chest, sending Blonsky rolling into a tree. Ross orders his men to pull back as he calls in a gunship but Betty approaches the Hulk. When the helicopter begins firing at the Hulk, the Hulk shields Betty from the bullets, as well as the explosion when the Hulk destroys the helicopter, but the explosion knocked Betty unconscious so he carries her off. Later, Ross has his men take all of Betty’s research from her home while he speaks with her boyfriend, Dr. Leonard Samson, who had tipped off Ross, but Leonard isn’t able to help them, saying the Hulk protected Betty when Ross almost killed her. Meanwhile the Hulk had carried Betty to a cave in the mountains fro the night and the next day, Betty gets a motel so they can rest. While Betty goes shopping for some supplies, Bruce regurgitates the data and after figuring out what they could take, Bruce sends the data to Mr. Blue and they make their way to meet him in New York City. Meanwhile, Blonsky has miraculously recovered from the injuries he received and Ross gives him a second does of the serum but unknown to Ross, Blonsky begins showing signs of outward mutation. Meanwhile, with S.H.I.E.L.D.’s help, the military learn the identity of Mr. Blue, cellular biologist Samuel Sterns, and they set up checkpoints all around the city to try and find Bruce and Betty as they get in. Bruce and Betty manage to slip past the checkpoints and meet with Sterns, who says that he doesn’t know if his antidote will cure just that one episode or if it is a permanent cure, plus there is the risk of killing Bruce. After getting him prepared for the procedure, Sterns initiates a change in Banner but as the Hulk starts to break free, Betty gets onto the Hulk’s chest and manages to calm him down long enough for the procedure to work. Later, Sterns talks about how he doesn’t know if this is a permanent cure as none of his test subjects survived and when Bruce questions him about the test subjects, Sterns tells Bruce that he was forced to replicate Bruce’s blood in order to test his procedure. Bruce wants all of the samples of his blood destroyed so it doesn’t fall into the military’s hands but he is suddenly shot with a tranquilizer and captured. As he is placed into a helicopter, Betty goes to follow, arguing with her father over how he made Bruce a fugitive to cover his mistakes. Meanwhile, Ross’s aide is questioning Sterns on if he can replicate Bruce’s experiment and make more Hulks when she is knocked out by Blonsky, who wants Sterns to give him the Hulk’s power but Sterns worries that the Hulk’s blood, mixed with whatever is in Blonsky, would result in an abomination. After being threatened by Blonsky, Sterns goes ahead with the procedure and Blonsky mutates into a monster, knocking Sterns aside, where some of the Hulk’s blood drips onto his head, causing his head to start swelling. Abomination smashes his way out of the building and the military mistakenly believes it to be the Hulk but when they radio it in to Ross, he knows it can’t be the Hulk as Banner is there next to him. Seeing video of what is going on, Bruce convinces Ross to let him fight it, as he believes he can direct the Hulk at Abomination. After kissing Betty, Bruce drops out of the helicopter in order to help facilitate the change and ends up crashing through the street but emerges as the Hulk. When Abomination sees the Hulk, the two monsters race towards each other but Abomination, being bigger than the Hulk, gets the upper hand. Tearing a police car in half, the Hulk uses the wreckage as a pair of boxing gloves and proceeds to beat down Abomination but Abomination kicks him through a building. As Abomination gives chase, Ross orders the helicopter to open fire on him and Abomination ends up attacking the helicopter. Hulk manages to save the helicopter from Abomination but they end up crashing onto a rooftop. Abomination attacks the Hulk again and overpowers him but seeing Betty in danger, the Hulk gets a burst of strength and manages to beat Abomination, using a some heavy chains to choke him unconscious. Betty approaches the Hulk, who calls out her name, but when a news helicopter shines a spotlight on them, the Hulk takes off. Later, Betty is looking at a picture she took of Bruce before her camera’s battery dies while somewhere in British Columbia, Canada, Bruce is meditating when his eyes turn green, signalling a transformation, at which he smiles. Later, Ross is sitting in a bar when he is approached by Tony Stark, who tells the general that they are putting a team together and the general questions who is doing that.
The Incredible Hulk received mostly positive reviews, holding a 67% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. the consensus among the critics is that “The Incredible Hulk provides the action and excitement to please comic book fans and re-ignite this fledgling franchise.” The movie made over $263 million at the box office, and though it did not seem like it by the numbers, the movie was considered a success by the studio. Though the idea was for another stand alone film to be made, so far that hasn’t happened, but he is supposed to have more prominent roles in some of the phase 3 and 4 movies.
I know I am probably in the minority on this, but I like this movie. The acting was pretty good, with Ed Norton making a decent Bruce Banner, while Liv Tyler (Betty) and William Hurt (General Ross) were also good. I also like Tim Roth (Blonsky) but was bit disappointed in the change to his character. The story was pretty good and while they did change the details on how he became the Hulk, I liked how they chose to recap it during the opening credits instead of devoting a whole scene to it, since that has been shown in one form or another in the previous movie, not to mention the TV show and two cartoon series. I did like the couple of funny inside jokes that were in the movie, such as Betty giving Bruce a pair of purple pants, the cameo by Lou Ferrigno and the pizza owner being called Stanley (a play off of Stan Lee). I know some people might criticize this movie as being nothing but a lot of action but let’s be honest people. with a movie involving the Hulk, you don’t really need plot, you just want to watch him smash stuff, which this movie delivered. It’s not the best movie in the series but it is still fun to watch.
Rating: 4 out of 5