The Incredible Hulk (2008)

The Incredible Hulk (2008) annotations

Release date: 13th June 2008

Director: Louis Leterrier
Screenwriter: Zak Penn


00:00-05:00

Titles

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.

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The Incredible Hulk (2008) titles

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.

The music we hear is called Main Theme, composed by Craig Armstrong. Armstrong, a Glaswegian composer who worked on films such as Love Actually and Ray, did the entire score.

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.

Edward Norton as Bruce Banner in The Incredible Hulk (2008)
Edward Norton as Bruce Banner in The Incredible Hulk (2008)

Incredible_Hulk_Vol_1_1Bruce 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.

2d2f05caeb626c706e94c2a5861d51c3Norton 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.

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Liv Tyler as Betty Ross in The Incredible Hulk (2008)

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.

Liv-liv-tyler-3319265-388-400Liv Tyler was also a huge star by the time of this film. She was in world beating films Armageddon and The Lord Of The Rings trilogy, as well as the wonderful That Thing You Do. She told Newsarama.

“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.

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William Hurt as Thaddeus ‘Thunderbolt’ Ross in The Incredible Hulk (2008)

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.

600full-william-hurtWilliam 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.

Edward Norton in The Incredible Hulk (2008)
Edward Norton in The Incredible Hulk (2008)

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.

05:00-10:00

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.

10:00-15:00

He runs home through the streets. Most likely Tavares Bastos.

Banner has been given a flower. The piece of score we hear is called The Flower.

Then he communicates with the mysterious Mr Blue by chat. On the worse resolution computer possible for 2007. He chooses Mr Green as his own, extremely unsubtle username, especially when he’s supposed to be in hiding. Banner has used the alias Mr Green in the comics.

Banner then sciences the shit out of the flower.

There’s a deleted scene featuring Banner putting together his makeshift lab.

His cells turn from green to red and back to green. His experiment to find a cure has failed.

Sending blood in the post. It’s actually legal.

Then we’re at Arlington, Virginia – the Pentagon. The interior, we assume it’s a set.

It’s the office of Thunderbolt Ross. We see him in the current time, not in flashback, for the first time.

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He’s given information about a gamma poisoning by Major Kathleen Sparr, who works for Ross. She is played by Christina Cabot.

In the comics, Kathleen Spar (one ‘r’) is a scientist and a member of the Hulkbusters.

Cabot appeared in many great films, such as Fight Club (also starring Norton) and Man On The Moon.

It’s Stan Lee (in Milwaukee), in his required cameo.

Stan Lee in The Incredible Hulk (2008)
Stan Lee in The Incredible Hulk (2008)

Ross assembles his team. He goes to the fictional Fort Johnson in the Everglades in the story. It’s actually Canadian Forces Base Trenton, 142 Northstar Drive, Quinte West, near Toronto.

The fort is possibly named after Kenneth Johnson, the creator of the Incredible Hulk TV series, and the creator behind the sci fi series V.

Ross is with General Joe Greller, played by Peter Menash. Monash appeared in Avatar, 300 and more.

The score we hear is Ross’ Team.

We see the commandos briefly. They are Greg Bryk, Chris Owens, Al Vrkljan, Adrian Hein and John MacDonald.

One of Ross’ team will be Emil Blonsky, aka Abomination. He is played by Tim Roth.

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Tales_to_Astonish_Vol_1_90 Abomination is one the Hulk’s longstanding foes. In the comics, he is a Russian spy who is also affected by Gamma radiation.

He first appeared in Tales To Astonish #90 in April 1967, and was created by Gil Kane and Stan Lee.

tim_rothRoth was an acclaimed arthouse actor, known for roles in Reservoir Dogs and Rosencrantz And Guildenstern Are Dead. This was one of the first big blockbusters for him. Blonsky’s ‘raised in England’ bit is probably a concession to Roth’s upbringing and accent. Roth told Aintitcool:

“When we were talking and Louis pitched it to me a million years ago was that it’s like the graphic novels, which is what I like, to be honest with you and what my kids like, but it also gives a real nod to the comic books and the idea of the comic books is chase and that was what the TV series was always about, every week.”

Also considered for the role was Ray Stevenson. He would eventually join the MCU as Volstagg in Thor.

And we head to Brazil.

15:00-20:00

Banner gets an alert from Mr Blue.

The score we hear as Banner types is Mr Blue.

A shot of Rocinha at night, and then back to the streets.

The commandos attack.

Did the dog die? We assume it’s been tranquillised.

Banner runs, with help of Martina.

The score we hear is Favela Escape.

He runs into a Coca-Cola truck.

20:00-25:00

Banner runs into Ross, and sees who is after him.

Ross is being driven in a Agrale Dynamic.

Then the Tough Guys again. As well as the leader, the others are Julio Cesar Torres Dantas, Raimundo Camargo Nascimento and Nick Alachiotis.

He runs into the factory. The exterior is a former Behrig Chocolate factory in Rio’s Santo Cristo neighbourhood.

And something bad does happen, as Banner Hulks out. Although it takes a while before we get a good look at him.

25:00-30:00

Hulk takes out several soldiers. We assume they die. We don’t see them again.

And we finally get to see the Hulk’s face. 26 minutes in or so. One of the contentious issues in the production was the length of time it took before we get to see the Hulk.

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Hulk’s voice is Lou Ferrigno. We will see him later.

Hulk escapes, but the army grab his bag. In it is a picture of Betty, which Ross pockets. It’s worth noting that at this point, nothing in the film has connected the two characters as father and daughter explicitly.

One last stunning shot of Rocinha as we leave the scene.

Banner finds himself by a river. He’s near the Taunay Waterfall in the Tijuca Forest near Rio.

He flags down a Volkswagen Kombi. He discovers from the man in the truck he’s in Guatemala.

Which means he’s travelled 6500 kilometres or so.

The truck driver Javier Lambert. He was also the head stunt co-ordinator in the Rio De Janeiro scenes.


30:00-35:00

They drive over the wooden bridge with Taunay Waterfall behind them.

There is a deleted scene here, with Ross having to explain the aftermath of the disastrous Brazil mission. There is a reference here to the Hulk being grey. He was grey in his first appearance in the comics.

Back at the airforce base. Blonsky can’t let the mission go.

Banner finds himself in Chiapas, Mexico. That’s another 400 kms or so that he has travelled.

The location, however, is still Rio De Janeiro.

The music we hear is Bruce Goes Home.

He’s reduced to begging. He does manage to buy baggy pants.

The music we hear here is The Lonely Man, from The Incredible Hulk TV series. It’s not on the soundtrack. Composed by Joe Harnell.

He then walks through a hill. Note the camera is on a crane. That is one of Letterier’s most favoured tricks on this film – lots of crane shots.

Ross takes Blonsky through some sort of hangar bay. Location unknown, likely the Canadian Air Force Base again.

The music is Ross and Blonksy.

Blonsky mentions the super soldier. This is the program that created Captain America in the comics (and the film which we will see later).

Ross explains more of Banner’s origin. Banner thought he was working on radiation resistance, and tried the super soldier serum himself.

An extended version of this scene exists.

Blonsky is 39, but tim Roth is 47 when the film came out (maybe 46 during production).

And the off to Culver University. The aerial shot is Drew University – 36 Madison Avenue, Madison, New Jersey

Once on the ground, it’s actually the University of Toronto, on 27 King’s College Circus, Toronto.

The music we hear is Return to Culver University.

Banner reads the fake newspaper.

Over two weeks has passed since Rio De Janeiro, according to the onscreen text.

Banner struggles to get into the University College building, with its security.

He walks past a green then back to the Med-Sci building.

35:00-40:00

At the Med-Sci building, we see the faculty names, including Elizabeth ‘BettyRoss.

Scott Peterson is a comic book writer, and wrote a comic book adaptation of The Avengers. None of the other names appear to have any significance.

And we see Betty. Banner freakily stalks her from a distance. But then she is greeted by a new boyfriend, who we will meet later.

Stanley’s Pizza. It’s now a Thai place, and it was on 57 King St, Dundas, Hamilton.

And here’s Stanley. He’s played by Paul Soles. Soles was the voice of Banner in The Incredible Hulk cartoon in the 60s.

Many have speculated that Stanley’s name is another nod to Stan Lee. It seems likely, as his last name is Lieber, which is Stan Lee’s real last name.

Banner and Lieber talk about Betty Ross, and her head shrink boyfriend.

Banner delivers pizzas. He’s back in University College.

In the film, what’s left is a scam, but there was a deleted scene where he delvered pizzas as his job.

The security guard. It’s Lou Ferrigno!

Lou Ferrigno in The Incredible Hulk (2008)
Lou Ferrigno in The Incredible Hulk (2008)

louferrignoHe’s the original Hulk in the TV series. He was a champion bodybuilder before he took to acting. More than just this cameo, Ferrigno provides the voice of the Hulk. His voice would also be used for The Hulk in The Avengers and Avengers: Age Of Ultron.

This location is another college on the grounds of University of TorontoKnox College.

Then this lab. We saw it earlier in the flashback. We see some of the footage again.

The score here is called The Lab.

We see a glimpse of a student, holding a pizza, played by Martin Starr.

There is some speculation about this role. In the novelisation of this film, he is revealed to be Amadeus Cho, another Hulk supporting character, one of the smartest kids in the world. However, Starr has been cast in Spider-Man: Homecoming, in an unknown role. If his character is connected, it would mean this student can be anyone.

Starr is best known for his memorable TV work in Freaks And Geeks and Silicon Valley.

Banner knows Betty Ross’ password.

The screen pops up with Norton Anti Virus, a popular program (at the time). A possible play on our lead’s surname.

He’s back to chatting with Mr Blue. Every computer seems to have this Encryptochat program.

There’s an extended version of this scene.

40:00-45:00

Back at Stanley’s Pizza, we finally get a good look at the boyfriend. It’s Doctor Leonard Samson, played by Ty Burrell.

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Ty Burrell (right) as Doc Samson in The Incredible Hulk (2008)

Docsamson1st In the comics, Leonard ‘Doc’ Samson is a major character, especially for the Hulk. He is a psychiatrist as well, but has the power of super strength, and alludes to the biblical character of Samson.

He first appeared in The Incredible Hulk vol. 2 #141 in July 1941 and was created by Roy Thomas and Herb Trimpe.

In this film, Samson is just a psychiatrist with no powers, although his relationship with Banner was developed, but cut from the final film.

b76428118f0c590ded99798402da5fd1Burrell at this point was still a year away from starring in the long running sitcom Modern Family. He had minor roles in films like Black Hawk Down and the Dawn Of the Dead.

There was a small lead up to this scene that was deleted.

There’s a big Coca-Cola dispenser on the counter.

The music we hear as they chat, and Betty sees Banner, is called Reunion.

She finds him, crossing the Cherry Street Strauss Trunnion Bascule Bridge in Toronto, near the harbour, in the rain. [link]

They drive away in her Volkswagen GTI.

Back at Betty’s. Location unknown.

There was a lot cut from the house scenes, including a lot more of Leonard Samson.

She has a USB. Love USBs in films.

There was a longer version of this conversation.

Note that again, in front of Betty, Banner calls him the General, not her father, preserving the twist.

More deleted scenes.

Then General Ross, at some secure facility. He unearths equipment from the Super Soldier program.

The label says a lot. In the comics, Weapon Plus was a secret government program that experimented on humans (and mutants). It was a clever retcon, linking the creation of Captain America to Wolverine, and a whole lot of people in between.

In the comics, Dr Reinstein is one of several aliases used by Abraham Erskine. He was the scientist who created the Super Soldier serum, and will appear in Captain America: The First Avenger.

45:00-50:00

Back at Betty Ross’ house, Banner decides to leave.

Then a medical facility, where Emil will get his shots.

The doctor saying it will hurt is played by David Collins.

The next day, Banner prepares to leave. He says goodbye to Betty at Culver.

Then Banner spots soldiers. The music we hear is called They’re Here.

There was an extended version of their conversation.

They come in screaming.

Blonsky chases through Banner through a big park. It’s nowhere in the University, but it’s Morningside Park in Scarborough, Toronto.

Banner runs through the ornate Knox College again.

Into a library. Then he eats a massive USB. You know you can crack open that case, right?

50:00-55:00

“Dad…”

A bit of a reveal for someone.

Great glass windows and great set at Knox College for a showdown.

He lets out a big scream. And tears the army a new one.

He smashes up a couple of Humvees.

Two students grab footage. Both are Hulk supporting characters in other media.

Student with the phone is Jack McGee, played by Nicolas Rose. McGee was a reporter in The Incredible Hulk TV series, and a major character.

The other student is Jim Wilson, played by PJ Kerr. In the comics, he is the nephew of Sam Wilson, aka The Falcon. He was a supporting character for the Hulk, and died in a very memorable issue of AIDS.

The music here is called Give Him Everything You’ve Got.

Blonsky decides to attack directly. He’s been imbued with some Super Soldier power.

And then the sonic cannons. They come from Stark Industries.

55:00-60:00

Hulk destroys the sonic cannons and Blonsky faces him alone. The Hulk kicks him and hurts him badly.

Samson appears.

Betty confronts the Hulk, as the helicopter attacks. Hulk takes down the copter and protects Betty at the same time.

There’s really no way the pilots in the helicopter survive that is there? Not sure if any other soldiers were killed.

Explosions and rain. And the Hulk takes Betty with him.

The music we hear is called Saved From The Flames.

At Betty’s house, the military takes boxes of documents. Samson chats with Thunderbolt Ross. Turns out Samson was the one who tipped off the army.

Hulk brings Betty to some caves. Location unknown, and could be a set considering the rain.

Hulk_-_Gray_v1_001_cover This cave sequence is a direct nod to a scene in the comic book mini series Hulk: Gray, a six issue mini series by Jeph Loeb (who would go on to be a big part of Marvel Television) and Tim Sale, first published in 2003.

60:00-65:00

The music we hear is called Grotto.

Betty tries to communicate with the Hulk.

Ross visits Blonksy in hospital. No location details either.

He’s suffered a lot of damage, but seems to be getting better, right?

Betty checks herself and Banner into a hotel.

Banner sits on a kerb with a Coca-Cola machine behind him.

The music we hear is called Arrival at the Motel.

Banner recovers from his transformation. He pulls out the USB.

Betty’s gone shopping. She’s bought purple pants, a bit of a fixture for the Hulk in the comics.

Then a news report from WHIH World News. It’s fake, but Marvel actually set up a real YouTube account for it.

The reporter is played by Jee Yun-Lee.

65:00-70:00

We get a better shot of the motel, but we can’t find any records of the location. Five Mile Fork is in Virginia, so this is likely a stock shot.

Betty is cutting Banner’s hair. Then they kiss. Then Banner’s heart rate goes up, and he has to stop.

There was more to their time at the motel that was cut.

The music we hear is called I Can’t.

Sparr tells Ross there’s news to do with Blonsky. He’s recovered.

There’s a slightly different version of this scene.

Betty and Banner make a plan. They’re going to sell a necklace owned by Betty’s mother. The scene where they sell it was cut.

Ross and Sparr mobilise the military to look for them. Military set unknown, likely a set.

Bety and Banner are at a petrol station, location unknown.

They pay off a guy to use his computer for some more USB action.

He sends an email to Mr Blue, who works at the fictional Grayburn College.

The email seems to go straight into a SHIELD logo.

To a Dr Samuel Sterns, who we will meet.

70:00-75:00

Betty and Banner buy an old Ford F Series. And they hit the road.

They talk about what being the Hulk feels like.

Blonsky wants another serve of Super Soldier.

Betty and Banner arrive at a police stop. They are on Lakeshore Boulevard, under the Gardiner Expressway, Port Lands, Toronto.

The pair walk over the Cherry Street Bridge, where they reunited earlier in the film. Of course, all this stuff is not supposed to be Toronto, or the same town – it’s supposed to be generic.

Then into Toronto’s port to get a boat.

Then suddenly, we are in a boat on the way to Manhattan. Liberty Island on the left.

Looking at a subway map on the corner of Chambers Street and West Broadway. But it’s actually Toronto.

They get a cab, driven by Maxwell McCabe-Lokos.

The music here is called NYC Cab Ride.

They get out of the cab. I guess it’s supposed to be midtown Manhattan somewhere, but it’s again Toronto. Yonge St, corner of Melinda St.

An aerial shot of Manhattan.

Dr Samuel Sterns, played by Tim Blake Nelson. Note he’s wearing blue.

Tim Blake Nelson and Dr Samuel Sterns in The Incredible Hulk (2008)
Tim Blake Nelson and Dr Samuel Sterns in The Incredible Hulk (2008)

Tales_to_Astonish_Vol_1_62 Sterns in the comics is the person who will become The Leader, one of the Hulk’s greatest foes. Another victim of Gamma radiation, Sterns was given extraordinary intelligence and took to a life of crime.

He first appeared in Tales To Astonish #62, in December 1964. He was created by Steve Dikto and Stan Lee.

TimNelson had had many film roles leading up to this, in films such as Minority Report and memorably in O Brother Where Art Thou?. He would star as another potential (and ultimately unrealised) Marvel villain in 2015’s Fantastic Four. He told AV Club:

“I got that role when Eddie [Norton] and I were planning to do Leaves Of Grass. I thought of it as something that I hoped, and still hope, will inspire sequels, since I had a great time on that movie and I felt particularly lucky to be around Edward on a set, knowing that I’d be acting and directing Edward on Leaves Of Grass within a year. I felt blessed. I always love being in these technically demanding movies because that process is so mystifying to me in that I still go to movies and marvel at how stuff is achieved. How do you make it creditable onscreen that a 12-story high creature is storming through Harlem smashing cars?”

He’s coming out of Grayburn College, but it’s actually still the University of Toronto.

Sterns, Banner and Betty agree to try and cure Banner.

75:00-80:00

Meanwhile, Blonsky, in a military facility, is adjusting to more power. This bathroom location is unknown.

The music behind him is called The Mirror.

Helicopters take the army to New York. There was more to this sequence that was cut.

Sterns’ experiment begins. The music is called Sterns’ lab.

Banner Hulks out. Sterns, after some hesitation, injects the cure. Betty is working to calm Hulk down. It looks as though the process has worked.

Meanwhile, copters are still coming.

80:00-85:00

Sterns is very excited about the experiment. He lets slip about test subjects.

Military and police arrive. It’s still University of Toronto. The round building is Convocation Hall.

The military targets the building.

Sterns has created a lab dedicated to Banner and his blood. Great looking set, it’s likely built for the film on a soundstage.

Sterns and Banner argue as Blonsky engages. The army moves in.

Soldiers run up a big staircase with books behind it. The location here is the University of Toronto Bookstore, 214 College Street.

Banner is taken out by a dart. Blonsky knocks Banner out.

The music here is Banner Darted.

After Banner is carted away was a deleted scene.

Sparr interrogates Sterns. But she is taken out by Blonsky.

Blonsky wants more power and threatens Sterns to get it. He mentions an he could create an Abomination, which is what Blonsky will become.

The music here is I Want It, I Need It.

85:00-90:00

Betty and Banner share a moment on the helicopter.

Sterns creates the Abomination.

The music here is Blonsky Transforms.

Sterns is then knocked to the ground with a head wound, and some of Banner’s blood gets into his blood stream. His brain seems to pulse and he smiles.

The Leader emerges in The Incredible Hulk (2008)
The Leader emerges in The Incredible Hulk (2008)

All this is an allusion to The Leader, Sterns villainous persona from the comics. It was a clear set up for potential sequels. Nelson told the Playlist in 2010:

“It’s a question as to whether they’ll make more movies, which was the [original] intention, or whether they’ll take a fresh start with the villains, since they switched Bruce Banner to Mark Ruffalo. I certainly very much want to return as the Leader and I hope they’ll have me. The intention was that I would come back, which is why my head starts to, um, bubble, at the end.”

The Abomination cuts loose on the army.

The army believes that it’s the Hulk and he’s on the streets. The soldiers claim they are on 112th Street, north Broadway. That street is actually Yonge Street in Toronto’s downtown.

Note the Apollo Theatre. This famous theatre is in Harlem, north of Manhattan. It’s the filmmaker’s concession to make it look like the real New York.

A man runs out of a shop and is nearly hit by a thrown car. He is Michael Kenneth Williams, best known for roles in The Wire and Boardwalk Empire.

He was supposed to have a scene, but it was cut down to just these few seconds. He told CinemaBlend:

“It was actually a scene that got cut out. It was a scene where I got caught between the Abomination and the Hulk, and I was trying to stop them from tearing up the streets of Harlem. But then when I saw the Abomination was just so irate I told the Hulk to go kick his ass.”

And we get our first good look at Abomination. He looks different from the comics, where he is more reptilian. The look they were going for was a primitive man.

The Abomination inThe Incredible Hulk (2008)
The Abomination inThe Incredible Hulk (2008)

Abomination just tears into people. They had to have died right?

Military brings out a bazooka. It does nothing.

90:00-95:00

Banner decides to head into the fight.

The music we hear is Bruce Must Do It.

He kisses Betty, the jumps out of the helicopter.

The Hulk has actually thrown himself out of several planes and choppers over the years in the comics, resulting in a Hulk-out.

The Hulk is here. Hero shot with the flames behind him, as he pulls himself out.

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The Incredible Hulk (2008)

The Abomination throws a dude away. He must be dead.

The Hulk and the Abomination fight.

The music is Harlem Brawl.

Abomination knocks the Hulk to a new street, the one where he finds the police car. It’s Main Street East, Hamilton. Temporary buildings were made on John Street, just for smashing.

The army and Ross now attack Abomination.

95:00-100:00

The pair end up hanging off the helicopter, crashing into a neon sign.

Then they land, with the chopper, in an abandoned building. It’s a courthouse, with its ornate columns. The filmmakers wanted to symbolise a battle between epic and powerful Gods. It was a set, created at Toronto Film Studios.

The music is Are They Dead?

Turns out no. Abomination actually lifts the Hulk. Note that the filmmakers deliberately made the Abomination taller.

The chopper catches fire and Hulk puts it out with a big clap. Another classic comic book move.

Abomination uses a chain.

Hulk uses his last words – “Hulk Smash!”. This is very much one of the great Hulk clichés, from the comics and every other iteration.

The music here is also called Hulk Smash.

100:00-105:00

The Hulk brings Abomination down finally, letting off a big scream.

General Ross holds off the attack whilst Betty confronts him.

The music is Hulk And Betty.

He says his sixth word in the entire film – Betty.

And he runs.

Back to an aerial of Liberty Island. It is in the background as Betty gets a low battery on her camera, suggesting she is near Wall Street. It is clearly a set.

The music is A Tear.

Deleted scene here has her getting a call from Samson.

Then off to Bella Coola, British Columbia.

Banner gets mail to David B. For whatever reason, the 70s TV series renamed Banner from Bruce, in the comics, to David.

It’s the necklace that they sold when they first hit the road. He sends it back to Betty and we see Culver University’s location – Willowdale, Virginia.

The music we hear is The Necklace.

Banner goes back to his meditation. He Hulks-out. For kind of no reason.

Edward Norton in The Incredible Hulk (2008)
Edward Norton in The Incredible Hulk (2008)

And that’s the end for this version of the Hulk, and Edward Norton. Both Norton and Letterier were fighting for a film hat focussed more on Banner, but they lost the fight. Hence the abundance of deleted scenes. The tension leaked out into the press, and despite Norton, Letterier and Marvel playing nice for promotion, the relationships were strained. Despite some discussion, Norton did not return.

There’s no mid-credits sequence technically, as the scene goes straight into what is considered the credits sting.

General Ross downs a drink. In a bar, location unknown and could be a set.

The drink is a cocktail called The Incredible Hulk.

Music here is Who’s We.

In walks Tony Stark. You know him as Iron Man. Played by Robert Downey Jr.

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Robert Downey Jr as Tony Stark in The Incredible Hulk (2008)

Robert Downey JrThis is Robert Downey Jr‘s second appearance in the MCU. We last saw him in Iron Man (2008).

And that’s the end!

Dramatis Personae

What did we think?

This is definitely the MCU’s problem child, mainly because the MCU was still trying to work out what it was. Despite the best intentions, it becomes a pretty standard superhero. As much as they try to imbue Banner with some individuality, he remains the same person at the end of the film. Compared to the ambitious slate of films to follow, this was the MCU desperately trying to fit in.

Another big problem is the CGI. It has dated badly, and feels weightless. A victim of its time, but it jars in a way that Iron Man (2008) doesn’t. That the Hulk himself doesn’t look great is a big problem. The final fight – two CGI nothings on a fake set, is a real let down.

What works is the cast. Edward Norton is actually great, and being a skinny, thoughtful man makes him very well cast. Liv Tyler is typically wonderful and emotionally raw. Tim Roth does a fine job. William Hurt brings great weight to his role, although the script gives him nothing to do, he’s yet another Marvel one note villain, evil for almost no reason.

There’s some breathtaking sequences – in particular Brazil. Norton, Letterier and Marvel all clashed over how much of the film should be Hulk, and how much should be Banner. The Hulk stuff is weak – the Banner stuff is great. Perhaps it would have been one ego too many, but Norton would have been pretty good in The Avengers.

This is still a good film in the end – not as memorable as Iron Man, but it does the job of saving the Hulk from the awful 2003 film. With William Hurt being cast in Captain America: Civil War, it feels like the MCU are embracing its problem child as well.

Best bits

  • Everything in the favelas in Brazil. Banner’s life, his ingenuity, and it looks great.
  • Banner and Betty on the run. Could have watched a whole series of this.
  • Love the take – the whole universities and colleges, science vibe.
  • The promise of the Leader. Tim Blake Nelson does a fine job of being helpful, creepy, and not necessarily a bad guy.
  • Liv Tyler. Pretty great here as she is in most things.

Not best bits

  • Really, the CGI. Why do they keep putting it on the DVD covers?
  • Thunderbolt Ross. What’s this guy’s motivation? Does he just hate his daughter, despite putting himself in the way of the Hulk in the flashback? If it turned out he was secretly looking for a cure for Betty or something…
  • Blonsky is also just a psycho for no reason.
  • Some of the Hulk jokes, like the purple paints, land pretty badly.
  • Ultimately end up at the same point we started?

What did you think?

Trailer


5 thoughts on “The Incredible Hulk (2008)

  1. My reading of that final moment isn’t that Banner “hulks out for no kind of reason,” but rather that he has managed to tap into Hulk power without having to hulk out completely. He’s meditating, he gets the green eyes, he smiles. In other words, after the attempted cure there has in fact been some sort of progress.

    1. I was being flippant and it would actually be a pretty nice ending if the Ruffalo Hulk didn’t just pick up as if this film barely happened as well. It’s not like that amount of control paid off.

      1. I dunno. I feel like it pays off very nicely in The Avengers, with “that’s my secret, Captain: I’m always angry.” He gains control in Norton’s last scene, and except for times when he’s injured/ attacked/ whammied by the Mind Gem, he shows every sign of still having it when Ruffalo takes over as Banner.

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