A Nerd’s Review of the Marvel Cinematic Universe… Thus Far, Part 2

Next up on the list of Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) flicks is 2008’s The Incredible Hulk, starring Edward Norton, Liv Tyler, Tim Roth, William Hurt, Ty Burrell, Tim Blake Nelson.  It was directed by Louis Leterrier.

Anyone who was watching TV in the early 80’s remembers the original Incredible Hulk TV show, starring Bill Bixby and Lou Ferrigno.  In case you forgot, here’s a reminder:

Unlike Ang Lee’s Hulk from 2003, this movie is set in the same universe as the TV show, with Edward Norton conducting experiments with gamma rays, and the like.

It opens in South America, as Bruce Banner (Norton) has fled there to escape the U.S government, who wants to experiment on him and use the Hulk as a weapon.  He is working in a soda bottling plant, and using yoga techniques to control his blood pressure and heart rate so he won’t transform into the Hulk.  This is my first gripe with the movie.  Banner wears a heart rate  monitor on his wrist, so he can know if his heart gets to going too fast, and is on the verge of transforming.  In and of itself, this is not a bad idea.  But there are some stupid consequences.  Like, he can’t get it up without turning into the Hulk.  I’m not kidding.  More on that later.

Anyway, one thing leads to another, and General Thunderbolt Ross (Hurt) ends up finding out that Banner is living in South America because some of Banner’s irradiated blood ends up in a soda, drunk by Stan “The Man” Lee.  As Banner is on the run from Emil Blonsky’s (Roth) team of commandos, or whatever they’re called, he runs into some douchebag he works with, who also chases him.  Anyway, Banner leads them all into the soda plant, transforms into the Hulk, and hilarity ensues.

That is, if you call a giant green skinned monster causing all sorts of destruction and chaos hilarity.

Banner makes his way back to America, all the while trying to find his ex-girlfriend, Dr. Betty Ross (Tyler), because she has data about his blood, which he needs to transmit to the mysterious “Mr. Blue,” who is trying to cure Banner.  He finds her, and she is dating Dr. Samson (Burrell), who is a villain in the comics.  He gets the data, but is then attacked by a new and improved Tim Roth, who has been given a bastardized version of the Super Soldier serum, originally used on Captain America.  Roth goes toe to toe with Hulk, gets his ass kicked, and goes home for a while.

Banner tracks down Mr. Blue (Nelson), who turns out to be Samuel Sterns, or the Leader (another comic villain) in NYC, gets captured, and Blonsky pretty much OD’s on the serum and becomes Abomination, who is basically an asshole version of the Hulk.  Ol’ Thunderbolt lets Banner go so he can fight Abomination, and destroy all of New York, because, well, that’s what Hulk does.

All in all, this was an entertaining flick.  My wife liked it because the guy who played Spender on the X-Files was one of Tim Roth’s commando guys. Plus, the trailer for the second X-Files movie was shown before it.  In case you can’t tell, she’s an X-Files freak, or X-Phile.  I liked it because it took place in the Bixby Hulk universe, and they even played the sad walking away song during the movie.  You know, this song:

They even found a way to slip some old footage of Bill Bixby into the movie.  It was a very touching tribute.

The acting and pacing of this movie were good.  I don’t know that I was a huge fan of Norton as Bruce Banner, though.  He just didn’t seem to have that inner darkness/angst thing that Banner needs to have, unlike Bixby or Eric Bana.  Liv Tyler is decent, as is Hurt.  To me, Roth was the standout.  He was utterly hateable.  Ty Burrell was, well, Ty Burrell, just not as snarky.  And I couldn’t help but let out a little nerd squeal when Robert Downey, Jr., as Tony Stark, popped up in the post credits scene, where he talked to a drunken Thunderbolt about his Hulk problem.

Back to my main problem: the heart rate thingy.  After Betty Ross agrees to run away with Banner, they shack up in a hotel room, start making out, and his monitor starts beeping.  That must suck.  He can’t even get a boner without getting all mean and green.  Poor guy.

Don’t make him horny.  You wouldn’t like him when he’s horny.

My son can watch a lot of things and not be scared, but I can’t bring myself to let him watch this.  Unlike Iron Man, I don’t think he would like this one.  I used to be so scared of Lou Ferrigno, I would literally piss my pants when I saw him all painted up.  I was scared of the Hulk for a little while after, and I don’t think I could do that to my boy.

Join me next time as I look at Iron Man 2, or as Mickey Rourke called it, a “Marvel piece of crap.”

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