The Incredible Hulk is nearly a smash

Waiting for The Incredible Hulk to begin last night I had really high hopes. Edward Norton, a promised appearance by Tony Stark and a comic book adaptation delivered by the newly formed Marvel Studios. Surely this was going to be awesome. The problem with every other superhero movie had been Hollywood. They just don't treat the material with enough respect. Don't understand. Don't care. Just see them as a giant cash machine. So with Marvel now at the helm Hulk couldn't fail to deliver, well nearly...

During the first hour of The Incredible Hulk, it threatens to be one of the great superhero movies. The film deals very effectively with Bruce Banner's backstory during the opening credits, plus teasing you with hints that Marvel are going to bring their comic book universe together on film in the way they have in print - look out for mention of Stark Industries and Nick Fury. We then see Edward Norton exiled in Brazil, hiding from the monster inside and desperately training himself to control his anger. There are references a plenty to The Incredible Hulk TV show here, with the old theme tune even turning up at one point. Banner has abandoned all of the stresses of modern living here, choosing to have no mobile phone, credit cards or ID and the film seems to be trying to make a interesting point about him having more freedom in exile living with his monster than we all do each day fighting to catch the tube.

Of course, the army then show up and ruin everything. Their early battles with the Hulk are fought out in brilliant horror movie fashion, with the audience only being given glimpses of the big green monster. Unfortunately, after this the movie takes a turn for the more traditional, with Banner being forced to return to America to find a cure and pointed in the direction of a showdown with Tim Roth's Emil Blonsky, who has decided he wants a bit of the gamma juice for himself. Thereafter, there are still fantastic battles between the Hulk and the US military and of course a giant wrestling match with the Abomination, but you can't help feeling that Marvel are playing it safe to ensure the future of the franchise when they should be Hulking out and really going for it.

Which brings me back to my disappointment with Marvel Studios. They've now got total control of the movie destiny of some of their most famous comic book characters, but rather than setting them free you can't help but feel that the scale of the task is weighing heavily on them. I've always felt that comics are about the outsider. The kid who doesn't fit in. The person whose powers mean they don't belong. Marvel used to be the outsider, but suddenly the success of their films has thrust them into the mainstream. Instead of using their new found powers for good, they seem to have decided that fitting in is better and they're making movies based on marketing decisions and focus groups. Unfortunately, the thing about The Incredible Hulk is he's aways going to stand out in a crowd.


Post a Comment