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Hulk Smash Sequel Curse

image by Veronica V. Jones

The Incredible Hulk’s Heroic Transformation

The Incredible Hulk Edward Norton as Bruce Banner. Liv Tyler as Betty Ross.

Five years ago groundbreaking — and otherwise highly-acclaimed — director Ang Lee took our favorite gamma-irradiated icon and hyper-stylized and over psychoanalyzed him to ruinous effect in Hulk. His film was at best a quirky, arthouse take on comics, and at worst an elitist mockery of the genre.

Thankfully, Dr. Banner’s latest outing in The Incredible Hulk leaves the psychobabble and visual gimmickry behind, and delivers a solid, superheroic adventure much more faithful to the comic and television source material. In this Marvel reboot, the characters in general aren’t reduced to one-note performances, and even grow a little over the course of the the film. Edward Norton’s Banner find a great balance between frustration with his predicament and determination to find a resolution to it. There’s precious little angst to be found in this film.

Another excellent choice in the film is to return to the Oedipus-free origin story as depicted in the original 70’s television series. Other nostalgic touches include the return of Lou Ferrigno and the late Bill Bixby, plus the inevitable Stan Lee cameo. Other nods to the past include a young campus reporter named Jack McGee, and a pair of very large purple shorts.

Most importantly, The Incredible Hulk ultimately portrays the big green guy as an honest-to-goodness hero. Bruce Banner had previously been filmed as hapless victim, rage junkie, and everything in between. The Bruce we know, love, and see here is flawed, downtrodden, and even handicapped…. but ultimately a strong, moral person who accepts Stan the Man’s famous creed: with great power there must also come great responsibility.

Welcome back, Hulk. We missed ya!

Written by in June of 2008. Last edited March 2015.

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