Since Bruce Banner didn’t have his own trilogy in the MCU, fans often forget that he had an origin movie. When viewers remember The Incredible Hulk, they sometimes think that the movie doesn’t count as part of the MCU. However, while the MCU does not officially recognize Ang Lee’s Hulk, The Incredible Hulk was the second official MCU entry.
With Edward Norton playing Bruce Banner for the first and only time in the franchise and Louis Leterrier directing, the movie shouldn’t be so quickly forgotten. It was an excellent movie in its own right, even though the MCU sometimes pretends it never happened.
10 he used Ang Lee’s Hulk just enough to immerse himself in the story
Although Ang Lee’s Hulk isn’t supposed to be part of the MCU, it technically has to be, because the beginning of The Incredible Hulk directly acknowledges it. Instead of retelling Bruce Banner’s origin story in its entirety for the second time in a decade, The Incredible Hulk used a montage of opening credits.
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That montage quickly reminded everyone of Bruce Banner’s origin story before diving into it. The film begins with an already irradiated Bruce who hides in Brazil, and from there it progresses rapidly.
9 has incredible action
The tone of the film, in general, is more subdued, with darker backgrounds and bright characters against that backdrop, mimicking Bruce’s feelings throughout the film. However, when the Hulk himself appears on screen, viewers are always in luck.
The sequences in which Bruce Banner becomes the Hulk are always captivating, and the action scenes are full of interesting battles. The fights between the Hulk and the Abomination are even well done, giving a movie that has many slow moments with dialogue some great action scenes.
8 Avoid falling into the military cult
One problem that many superhero movies fall into is the excessive valuation of the military. In some movies, the military and government are seen as omniscient and always helpful resources for superheroes, when they are not always the case, neither in MCU canon nor in real life. The Incredible Hulk not only dodges this stumbling block, he directly challenges this trope.
Bruce fights against the idea of weaponizing scientific innovations and forcing people like him or Steve Rogers to become weapons instead of heroes. Throughout the film, Bruce actively fights against Thunderbolt Ross and the military that supports him, trying to resist the violence that he carries within and that he sees reflected in them.
7 he had a genuinely good love story
Later in the MCU, Bruce Banner is romantically paired with Natasha Romanoff, also known as the Black Widow. This surprised many viewers, and was largely considered not the best move. In fact, movies like Thor: Ragnarok actively tried to bypass this story and clean up all of that mess.
However, before Natasha showed up, Bruce was in love with Betty Ross. She was also in love with him, and the two struggle to get back together after the estrangement that Bruce hid. Their love story is sweet and genuine, and the MCU would benefit from bringing it back to Bruce’s story.
6 showed two interesting villains, one of whom is still important to the MCU.
Both the MCU and the DCEU have what is commonly referred to as a « villain problem. » Both the superheroes in the franchises get a lot of care and attention, but the villains tend to fall by the wayside. However, both franchises have been working on this.
It’s a fight, but villains like Thunderbolt Ross are noticeably more interesting than villains who don’t have enough space or weight to matter. Thunderbolt Ross is important to the MCU, and this movie gives it a great introduction. Additionally, Emil Blonsky, also known as the Abomination, serves as a great secondary action villain for Bruce and the Hulk.
5 Hulk has his own growth
The Incredible Hulk not only gives a lot of room for the introduction and development of Bruce Banner’s version of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, it also gives the Hulk a lot of space. Not only does he get a chance to perform more of the Hulk-like actions, such as causing huge explosions, hitting monsters, and pulling people’s hair, but he also has genuine, lifelike growth.
Some other MCU movies don’t see the Hulk as a character who can develop himself, but that’s a fundamental misunderstanding of the Hulk. The Incredible Hulk knew that the Hulk continued to grow and develop out of a manifestation of raw and repressed emotions.
4 subtly linked to the Hulk in the MCU
Just like Iron Man introduced Nick Fury at the end to introduce Tony Stark to the Avengers Initiative, The Incredible Hulk did some important field work linking Bruce Banner with the rest of the MCU. It is revealed to the public that Thunderbolt Ross was trying to recreate the Super Soldier Serum that turned Steve Rogers into Captain America.
This is something fans wouldn’t see in the MCU until the fifth movie in the franchise, Captain America: The First Avenger, three years later. We also see Tony Stark making his own appearance at the end of the film, although he does land on Thunderbolt Ross, not Bruce.
3 Edward Norton as Bruce Banner is on another level
Fans agree, quite unanimously, that Mark Ruffalo was an excellent casting for Bruce Banner if the character were to be recast. However, this does not mean that Edward Norton did not do an excellent job on the role in The Incredible Hulk. In fact, many believe that he, too, would have excelled in the role had he continued in the MCU.
The rest of the cast is excellent too, with William Hurt as Thunderbolt Ross, Liv Tyler as Betty Ross, and Tim Roth as Emil Blonsky. However, the only actor who could return was Thunderbolt Ross, unfortunately.
2 showed Bruce Banner growing up to live with the Hulk
The Hulk’s growth on his own and Bruce Banner’s on his own are important, but they also have to learn to coexist. In a way, they are both like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde; However, on another level, the two are much more of a dynamic duo than that more traditional hero / villain combo.
The Hulk is not a villain, but someone Bruce needs to understand and help more than anything else. The two grow up to at least understand each other through The Incredible Hulk. Bruce even begins to discover ways to use and control his anger and inner peace, something the MCU no longer uses at all.
1 Perfect pitch for a Hulk movie
For a time in the MCU, it seemed like everyone who wrote Bruce Banner and the Hulk didn’t really understand the tone of either character. However, The Incredible Hulk has nailed it from the start.
This movie is funny and sad in equal measure; he has a barely contained emotion that sometimes explodes, just like Bruce and the Hulk. The tone of the film incredibly reflects Bruce’s emotions throughout the film and as such does an excellent job as does the tone of Hulk. More than that, it looks and feels like a good comic book movie.