The Incredible Hulk (2008) annotations
Release date: 13th June 2008
Director: Louis Leterrier
Screenwriter: Zak Penn
Universal logo. People usually forget that Universal distributed this film. Their continued rights to the character is one of the things standing in the way of more Hulk solo films.
Marvel logo, then we are straight into it.
This title sequence. The medical imagery is obviously playing around with the Hulk’s origins.
We see several X-Rays, in green. There’s a quick flash of a face, then the logo. Maybe it’s a nod to the famous Doctor Who titles?
The reason the film is called The Incredible Hulk is that is the name of the comic. Marvel had a real thing about giving their comics adjectives – The Amazing Spider-Man, The Uncanny X-Men, The Mighty Thor, The Invincible Iron Man and more.
The late 70s TV show that featured Hulk was also called The Incredible Hulk, and this film was very much inspired by that show.
So here, we blast through Hulk’s origin in montage.
The reasons for such a truncated origin story comes from the fact it was only five years since the Hulk was on the big screen. The 2003 Hulk, directed by Ang Lee and starring Eric Bana, had a mixed reception, but it had shown filmgoers the origin.
Here’s Bruce Banner, played Edward Norton, being experimented on.
Bruce Banner is, of course, the Hulk.
Created by Jack Kirby and Stan Lee, he debuted in The Incredible Hulk #1 in May 1962, which told his origin. It’s been quite a ride ever since.
Edward Norton was a pretty big star when he took on the role of Banner. He was a household name thanks to roles in films like American History X and Fight Club and was picking fantastic roles in films like Death To Smoochy and 25th Hour. Not usually associated with anything genre or comic-con-y, this was great casting – against type but very exciting.
Norton was a huge driving force in the development of this film. He put his name and face to the character, but he also did uncredited script work. It was pretty clear from interviews that he loved and respected the character. Norton told EW (via Slashfilm):
“Like so many people I’ve loved the story of The Hulk since I was a kid, so it was thrilling when Marvel asked me to write and help produce an altogether new screen incarnation, as well as play Bruce Banner. I grew up reading Marvel Comics and always loved the mythic dimension and contemporary themes in the stories, and I’m proud of the script I wrote.”
Also considered for the role were David Duchovny, Mark Ruffalo (who of course would play the role in The Avengers and after) and even Eric Bana, who starred as Hulk in 2003.
We see Betty Ross, played by Liv Tyler.
Elizabeth ‘Betty’ Ross is the long time love interest of Banner/Hulk, both here and for many years in the comic.
Created by Jack Kirby and Stan Lee, she also first appeared in The Incredible Hulk #1.
“Before we started I went back and watched the television show, which was always one of my favorite things. My mom and I used to watch it all the time. I would say that the essence of the series for me was the image of that lone figure of Bruce Banner walking down the street with his little backpack, hitchhiking.”
Then we see her father – General Thaddeus ‘Thunderbolt’ Ross played by William Hurt.
Ross is also another bedrock of the Hulk mythology. He keeps the characteristics that define him in the comics – he’s a general, he’s Betty’s dad, he hates the Hulk, he has a moustache.
He also premiered in The Incredible Hulk #1, created by Jack Kirby and Stan Lee.
William Hurt has been a huge film star since the 80s, with massive hits like Body Heat, The Big Chill and Broadcast News. This was his first comic book role, and he would return to the MCU with Captain America Civil War. He told MTV:
“I believe in Hulk. Absolutely. That’s why I did the movie,” he revealed. “I’m a Hulk fan, and he was always my favorite. I keep asking my son why he’s both of our favorites. I read the comic books, but he’s a real fanatic. I didn’t even know he was a fanatic for Hulk until after I agreed to do the film — and we’re father and son.”
What’s the location of this medical facility? It’s a set, built at Toronto Film Studios, 629 Eastern Avenue, Toronto. Much of the film was made in Toronto, doubling for many other locations. It’s now called Revival. [link]
Looking at the files that run across the screen, the Hulk’s freak out attack on Betty and the facility was March of some year.
The lab’s location in the story is Culver City University, a fictional creation in Virginia. In the TV series, the Hulk is created at the Culver Institute, and it’s nice that they continue to use it here.
Then we see incidents of destruction from at least May 2006. The incidents are also mysterious, with sightings being rare that the Hulk is more an urban myth, like Bigfoot.
We see the glimpse of a book. Inventory of Rare and Endangered Tracheophyta of Amazonia by Amanda Kirchhoff. It was created for the film and will come into play later.
The US Army records that mention Stark Industries. This is the company owned by Tony Stark, aka Iron Man. They mention sonic cannons, that we will see later.
Nick Fury‘s name is also seen on some correspondence. Fury is the director of SHIELD, the big government spy/intelligence agency of the MCU. There is also a SHIELD logo that just went by.
Known associates. Betty of course, along with:
Dr L Samson. We will see more of him.
Richard ‘Rick’ Jones. Occupation is student. Jones is a big part of the Hulk mythos as well – in the comics, he caused the accident that created the Hulk, but has played a part with the Avengers. He has yet to be portrayed in the MCU, and did not appear the Hulk (2003).
Then we see Banner. He grabs what looks like a metronome. He has been meditating.
The meditation scene was initially longer.
We see on screen that it has been 158 days without an incident – ie. a Hulk-out.
We should go straight into the first of many deleted scenes here. The production of this film was famously fraught, and the much longer film had many scenes deleted. The most famous was this arctic sequence. It was the film’s opening sequence, whether it should come before or after the titles have never been made clear.
The scene features Banner travelling to the arctic, alone. He goes to the middle of nowhere, and tries to commit suicide, but he becomes the Hulk instead.
He’s not actually in the arctic, but at Bella Coola, British Columbia.
Hidden in the snow in this deleted scene is Captain America. You can see more here. Its easy to assume that Captain America would have picked this up, that a Hulk incident in the arctic led to the unearthing of Captain America.
Then we see the amazing housing of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. In particular, we are in Rocinha, a large slum area (or favela) to the south of the city. Although the aerial shot is Rocinha, the production shot at another favela – Tavares Bastos. [link]
The music here is Rocinha Favela.
Banner’s dog is a stray. A very common sight in favelas.
He thumbs a Portuguese/English dictionary.
Not sure who is playing football on screen. Liverpool in red perhaps?
Then the TV Show called The Courtship Of Eddie’s Father. The 30 minute comedy from the late 60s starred Bill Bixby, who played Banner in The Incredible Hulk TV series. We see him on screen, speaking.
Then Grover, the blue monster from Sesame Street
There’s much more of Banner’s time in Brazil that was cut.
Banner hits the streets. He walks past the red walled, colourful steps of the Selarón Staircase. A famous landmark of Rio De Janeiro, it was created by Jorge Selarón in 1990. [link]
He takes an Akido lesson from Rickson Gracie – a Brazilian jiu-jitsu champion. He speaks Portuguese.
The location of the school is unknown. Could be Brazil as Gracie is from there.
Scenes around the slums, then lockers for the factory where Banner works.
The factory interior was construct, created in a disused glass factory in Hamilton, west of Toronto. It has since been demolished.
The woman that gives Banner the eye is Martina, played by Débora Nascimento. This is the Brazilian actress’ most significant English speaking role.
The Plant manager. He’s played by John Carvalho. It’s his only screen role.
The plant makes Pingo Doce. It translates to ‘sweet drop’ in Portuguese.
A Pingo Doce poster appeared in Ant Man.
The music we hear is called A Drop Of Blood, as we follow the blood through the factory.
Banner intervenes with the Tough Guys (that’s what they are credited as). The lead Tough Guy is played by Pedro Salvín.
“You wouldn’t like me when I’m…hungry.”
This is a play on a classic Hulk catchphrase – you wouldn’t like me when I’m angry (People who didn’t like the 2003 film sometimes use the joke – you would t like me when I’m Ang Lee).
On the street, Banner meets with a contact to get a package.
The lead up to Banner getting this package was deleted from the final cut.
The contact appears to own a Chevrolet C-10.