Marvel Cinematic Universe Phase One Rewatch: The Incredible Hulk

Back on the old site, I wrote a few articles following a rewatch of the Marvel Cinamatic Universe. Here are those articles again.

Title: The Incredible Hulk

Director: Louis Leterrier

Written by: Zak Penn

Characters created by: Stan Lee

US Release Date: June 13, 2008

Budget: $150,000,000

Worldwide Box office: $263,400,000

Returning characters: Tony Stark

Summary: At Culver University in Virginia, General Thunderbolt Ross meets with Dr. Bruce Banner, the colleague and boyfriend of his daughter Betty, regarding an experiment that Ross claims is meant to make humans immune to gamma radiation. The experiment — part of a World War II era “super soldier” program that Ross hopes to recreate — fails, and the exposure to gamma radiation causes Banner to transform into the Hulk for brief periods of time, whenever his heart rate rises above 200. The Hulk destroys the lab and injures or kills the people inside. Banner becomes a fugitive from the U.S. military and Ross in particular, who wants to weaponize the Hulk process.

The movie begins five years later after the creation of the Hulk. Bruce Banner is on the run and works at a bottling factory in Rocinha, Rio de Janeiro in Brazil, while searching for a cure for his condition. On the Internet, he collaborates with a colleague he knows only as “Mr. Blue”, and to whom he is “Mr. Green”. He is also learning meditative breathing techniques to help keep control, and has not transformed in five months. After Banner cuts his finger, a drop of his blood falls into a bottle, and is eventually ingested by an elderly consumer in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, giving him gamma sickness. Using the bottle to track down Banner, Thunderbolt Ross, who oversaw the original experiment at Culver University, sends a SWAT team, led by Russian-born British Royal Marine Emil Blonsky, to capture him. Banner transforms into the Hulk and defeats Blonsky’s team.

Ross explains that Banner was trying to recreate the Super Soldier serum became the Hulk. Blonsky agrees to be injected with a small amount of a similar serum, which gives him enhanced speed, strength, agility, and healing, but also begins to deform his skeleton and impair his judgment. Banner returns to Culver University and reunites with Betty, who is dating psychiatrist Leonard Samson. Betty is Banner’s girlfriend and Thunderbolt’s daughter. Banner is attacked by Ross and Blonsky’s forces, tipped off by the suspicious Samson, causing him to again transform into the Hulk. The ensuing battle outside the university proves to be futile for Ross’ forces and they eventually retreat, though Blonsky, whose sanity is starting to falter, boldly attacks and mocks the Hulk. The Hulk seemingly kills Blonsky and flees with Betty.

After the Hulk reverts to Banner, he and Betty go on the run, and Banner contacts Mr. Blue, who urges them to meet him in New York City. Mr. Blue is actually cellular biologist Dr. Samuel Sterns, who tells Banner he has developed a possible antidote to Banner’s condition. After a successful test, he warns Banner that the antidote may only reverse each individual transformation. Sterns reveals he has synthesized Banner’s blood samples, which Banner sent from Brazil, into a large supply, with the intention of applying its “limitless potential” to medicine. Fearful of the Hulk’s power falling into the military’s hands, Banner wishes to destroy the blood supply.


Meanwhile, Blonsky is revealed to have survived the battle and has completely healed. He joins Ross’ forces for a third attempt to take Banner into custody. They succeed and Banner, along with Betty, are taken away in a helicopter. Blonsky stays behind and forces Sterns to inject him with Banner’s blood, as he covets the Hulk’s power. Sterns warns that the combination of the super-soldier formula and Banner’s blood may cause him to become an “abomination”, but Blonsky insists. The experiment mutates Blonsky into a creature with size and strength surpassing that of the Hulk, but drives him mad. He attacks Sterns, who gets some of Banner’s blood in a cut on his forehead, causing him to begin mutating as well.

Blonsky then rampages through Harlem. Realizing that the Hulk is the only one who can stop Blonsky, Banner convinces Ross to release him. He jumps from Ross’ helicopter and transforms after hitting the ground. After a long and brutal battle through Harlem, the Hulk defeats Blonsky. After having a small, peaceful moment with Betty, the Hulk flees from New York. A month later, Banner is in Bella Coola, British Columbia. Instead of trying to suppress his transformation, he successfully transforms in a controlled manner.

MCU Continuity Nods: When Bruce Banner emails Mr. Blue with his data while Betty purchases the used truck, the email is tracked through the S.H.I.E.L.D database. The equipment used to attack the Hulk was made by Stark Enterprises. The storm is the same storm seen in Thor.

Easter Eggs: Near the beginning of the movie when Banner is flipping channels on the TV, one of the shows he stops on is The Courtship of Eddie’s Father which starred Bill Bixby – Bixby is seen on the screen for several seconds. Bixby played Dr. Banner in the TV series from 1977 until 1982. After the Hulk appears at Culver University, two students are interviewed in the news, named Jack McGee and Jim Wilson. Jack McGee was a tabloid reporter who attempted to track down the Hulk in the television show, and in the comics Jim Wilson was a young orphan who befriended the Hulk. In the comics, Leonard Sampson becomes infected by gamma radiation and becomes Doc Sampson. Samuel Sterns becomes the villain called the Leader. Had there been a sequel, these characters may have made a reappearance.

Stan Lee Cameo: A guy drinking gamma-contaminated sodaiii


Infinity Stone: none

Post/mid Credits Scene: Tony Stark approaches Ross at a local bar and informs him a team is being put together. (Technically, this scene happens before the credits)

My Take: There are too many differences to make this a direct sequel to Ang Lee’s Hulk, but there’s something missing from the film, and I think I know what went wrong.


Years ago, Edward Norton was the guest speaker at the Sarasota film festival and Belle and I went to see him. He talked at length about being heavily involved in the creation of all of the projects that he was involved in. This stuck with me when I read that he was constantly rewriting the script. Combine that with Norton failing to make Banner remotely likeable, then it’s hard to place the blame elsewhere. It would take Mark Ruffalo and Joss Whedon to finally get the Hulk right.

Next: Iron Man 2