After two failed attempts at a standalone Hulk movie, we have the effects and actor to finally make it work.
The Incredible Hulk is one of the most beloved of all Marvel comic legends. The magnificence of the Hulk character comes in his juxtaposition to the typical comic book hero, and the awesome power of the character when he is in action. Only the Hulk has been active on television and in film over the years, but the results have never been anything more than mediocre, no matter who is in the lead role.
Marvel and Whedon bottled the perfect formula for The Hulk. The CGI had caught up, and Ruffalo embodied Banner in the right ways
For five years, The Incredible Hulk was a mildly successful TV series, starring Bill Bixby as tortured scientist Bruce Banner, and Lou Ferrigno as his beastly Hyde. This series run may still be the most successful standalone Hulk narrative. In 2003, Ang Lee attempted to frame the Hulk character in a cerebral Greek tragedy setting. This film was baffling, dull, and too smart for its own good. In 2008, Louis Leterrier and Marvel Studios attempted a reboot with The Incredible Hulk, replacing Ang Lee’s Bruce Banner, Eric Bana, with Edward Norton. While the film is an improvement, The Incredible Hulk is still not quite right.
Met with middling reviews and a lukewarm box office, the Hulk character was pushed to the background of the Marvel Universe after The Incredible Hulk, until Mark Ruffalo took the role in Joss Whedon’s wildly successful The Avengers. Finally, it seemed that Marvel and Whedon had bottled the perfect formula for the character. The CGI had caught up, and Ruffalo embodied Banner in all the right ways. It is time, now, to give the Not-So-Jolly Green Giant his own film.
The Hulk is a character that must be CG in order to be properly represented on screen, and in 2003 the technology was a year or two away from making the beast completely legitimate. The version Ang Lee and company presented was too smooth, the green hue too bright. 2008 saw vast improvements on the look of The Hulk, but that film had issues with murkiness and flat acting from Norton. The CGI was passable, but The Avengers showcased The Hulk as he was meant to be seen. There was perfect balance between the colour and the texture of the character, and when he was doing his thing throughout the picture, The Hulk was believable and thrilling. Finally, CGI technology is in a place where the green goliath can carry an entire film.
Mark Ruffalo can carry the human scenes of a standalone Hulk film better than any actor that’s previously portrayed Banner
But The Hulk is not all green madness and destruction, as there is the always-important human side, the alter ego. Mark Ruffalo fits the soulful Bruce Banner better than either Eric Bana or Edward Norton did. Bana was too morose and much too dense and muscular to portray a mild mannered scientist, while Norton felt too angular and toned, not to mention disinterested in the role. Ruffalo has an everyman quality to his characterisation. Not too bulky, not too lean, Ruffalo has the body of a typical person. And he exudes more compassion and retains a soft spoken nature fittingly opposed to the rage of The Hulk himself. Ruffalo can carry the human scenes of a standalone Hulk film better than any actor that’s previously portrayed Banner.
On top of all this, The Hulk was a fanboy favourite in The Avengers. His presence garnered the most buzz because it was evident Whedon and company had found the answer to the challenging equation. Not only are all of the elements in place to make a new Hulk film successful, it seems fans of the character are clamouring for that very thing. The world of The Hulk is vast and untapped – seeing him take on his arch nemesis Brainiac would be a joy – and ripe for the picking. Let’s make this happen, Marvel.
Featured image: Marvel
Inset image: Universal