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DVD review: The Incredible Hulk 2008: Underrated but Marvel's best overall film

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The Incredible Hulk

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In the last 15 years or so, comic book movies have moved from the backgrounds of movie making to become one the dominant staples of modern filmmaking. Comic book movies have now become some of the biggest draws (rw) for movies anually. Every year one of the characters from Marvel or DC Comics is in the running to be the biggest money maker of the year. A long way from the days when there was a debate as to whether or not it was profitable or if anyone would even go to see one of these types of films. A few years back one of the best adaptations of one of the most known comic book characters ever got a do over because of the fallings of a movie that featured him just five years prior.
There aren't many perfect interpretations of a character. In 2008, The Incredible Hulk made his way back to the silver screen. It was the second attempt to finally modernize one of the most popular comic book characters in the world and bring him into the big leagues. The Hulk or The Incredible Hulk went on to become one of the few perfect interpretations of a comic book based character to date.
The Incredible Hulk was the action packed, multifaceted masterpiece that is the perfect intersection of history, action, and story. It was one of the best adaptations of a comic to movie. The movie stars Edward Norton (The Bourne Legacy), Liv Tyler (Robot and Frank), William Hurt (The Host), Tim Blake Nelson (Lincoln), and Tim Roth (Arbitrage). The film was directed by Louis Leterrier (Now You See Me).
The Incredible Hulk (TIH) was faced with a task that was more difficult than almost all of the comic book movies that have debuted. It had to find a way creatively recreate one of the most well-known characters in comics, then it had to overcome the shortcomings of the first travesty of a movie, while staying true to the comic, and finally manage to endear itself to the loyal following that loved the character because of the old television show. “TIH”did all of that and to PERFECTION. The film flawlessly merged all three distinct viewpoints on the character; the comic, the early TV show, and a bad movie. It creatively meshed them together to create perfection. To quote the late George Peppard (Hannibal Smith from TV’s The A-Team) said it best "I love it when a plan comes together.”
“TIH” is arguably the best film made by Marvel Studios. This is a much more pure adaptation of the character. “TIH” was the second of the pre-Avengers films that comprised Marvel’s now famous blueprint to set up The Avengers movie. This version did the character justice. It righted all the wrongs of its dreadful predecessor. It contained all elements essential to a comic book movie: great interpretation on the hero, great acting, good story, and a great depiction of the villain to balance the movie.
The film focused on what the character truly is; a tortured soul who wishes to return to humanity. This movie got it right. In addition to the great outlook on the character, it catered to both factions of the fans. The film was detailed oriented enough to keep the droves of devout fanboys satisfied but very audience friendly so that casual fans can follow. The Incredible Hulk began by building great anticipation leading up to the Hulks first on screen appearance. It engrossed the audience drawing them into the story more and more, then finally when it was time, it unleashed the Hulk on them with all of the imposing amazement that he deserved.
One of the key elements that made this film even greater is how it embraced the television show. The Hulk is one of the few superheroes that had a great television show. The show was larger than the comic to the general public. The creators of this movie recognized and embraced that. They used a number of subtle references that paid homage to the classic television show. It begins with great montage at the beginning that included direct homage to the beloved TV show and eliminated the need for this film to be another origin story after the disaster of the first film. Then they incorporated a scene with the theme song, its most famous quote "You don’t want to make me angry, you won't like when I'm angry" as well as some other very subtle connections to the television show such as the image of Bill Bixby, a cameo by Lou Foregno (who also did the voice of the Hulk), and finally the mention of the reporter Jack McGee the reporter.
In continuing its path to perfection, this version of the Hulk made sure to incorporate many of the classic characters from the comics; General Ross, The Abomination, The Leader, a version of the Hulk Busters, and of course Betty Ross. Conversely, The Incredible Hulk was the actually the first to kick off the marvel universe. Iron Man was their first film but this was the first movie to incorporate many of the details that have connected the Marvel Cinematic universe. The film included multiple subtle and not so subtle references such as referring to SHEILD, indirect references to Captain America, and the now famous post credits scene. All of these elements were a first for what are now trademark Marvel cinematic aspects.
The best aspect about nearly all of the Marvel comics’ movies is the casting. Marvel is second to none when it comes to casting the actors and actresses who play their characters. The Incredible Hulk is no different. All of the roles portrayed exquisitely, Ross (William Hurt), Blonski/Abomination (Roth), Banner (Norton), and Samuel Sterns or better known as The Leader (Nelson) could have been better depicted. Bill Bixby is immortally beloved as the best person to play Banner and in his lone appearance as the character; Edward Norton made a serious claim to displace him. Norton played Banner to perfection grasping all of the elements of the character in the process of bringing his own take on it. Mark Ruffalo has now taken on the mantle of the gamma charged hero and may be the popular actor of the moment in the role but he is far short of what Norton’s take was on Banner. Norton’s depiction of Bruce Banner is right up there with the best of the actors that have played Marvel characters. He is arguably as good in this role as Robert Downey, Jr., Chris Evans, and Chris Hemsworth who have helped to redefine how these characters are accepted. Lastly, Norton and Liv Tyler (Betty Ross) had great chemistry. Their love story felt genuine and took the film to another level. For everything that the Hulk is, it’s a much of a tragic love story as anything and this movie truly captured that element.
Finally, The Incredible Hulk ended with a bang. It is one of the few Marvel Comic movies that the climax is epic. The biggest drawbacks in most of the Avenger films are the endings aren’t epic. Iron man 1-3, Thor 1-2 but the Incredible Hulk didn’t have that issue. The battle with Abomination was epic. It was the first Marvel movie that made you want to cheer when he did the "Hulk clap" and utter the classic "Hulk smash!"
The Incredible Hulk remains one of the best films made by Marvel and one of the best interpretations of any of the marvel characters. It’s more of a forgotten film with the increased popularity of the Avengers and the other solo films that were associated with it since they all have sequels. However, The Incredible Hulk serves as a great standalone feature. It will never get the credit or recognition that it truly deserves but this film is as good as Iron Man and Captain America: The Winter Soldier.

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