As I have previously said in my blog, Ang Lee’s Hulk was the worst movie of all time. It took a childhood hero and destroyed it with a dull story that lost track of the cult following surrounding the character. However, my dislike for the movie has softened somewhat, mainly because Ang Lee gave us the amazing ‘Life of Pi’, but also because I am starting to see how difficult it is to make a decent motion picture out of Marvel’s green rampaging monster.
Don’t get me wrong, the film still deserves as much abuse as you can give it. Let’s look at the second Hulk movie ‘The Incredible Hulk’. It was by no means a masterpiece, but it took the premise as far as it could be taken. It gave us the Hulk smashing things up, some character development between Banner and Betty and then a third act villain for Hulk to beat up. Personally I can’t see how the Hulk could have been made any better. The reason for this is because there are three major problems holding any potential Hulk films from reaching a higher level of greatness.
3 – THE HULK ISN’T A SUPERHERO
The main problem with Hulk is that he isn’t a good guy. Most of a Hulk movie consists of a storyline not far off Godzilla or King Kong. He rampages around a city, until the military stops him or the movie introduces a monster much worse than the Hulk. There is nothing wrong with that movie, in general, but it doesn’t really lend itself into any sequel territory. Kong and Godzilla tried and they got slated for it. All it takes is one movie to cover all of the aspects the fans want to see and then there are little directions for the franchise to take. Again, the Incredible Hulk gave us this movie and any sequel writers will be scratching their head for what to do next.
Joss Whedon struggled with this. There is a clear plot hole in the fact that when the final fight against the aliens commences, the Hulk magically transforms into a character that can somehow tell what team he is on. Seeing as the entire first half of the movie revolves around this very problem, it feels a little confusing that Whedon forgets about it. But we all forgave him, because there is no real solution to that problem. It would have taken too much more exposition to work out that plot hole and all we wanted to see is Hulk fight alongside Thor. Whedon goes for the comedy option, as he is famous for doing in his series, and covers this plot hole with a few jokes, that while are amusing, don’t really answer that burning question. Again, he got away with it, because the Hulk sequences were awesome enough to earn him forgiveness, but when a less-talented writer attempts to try the same trick, it might not go down as well.
2 – HULK HAS NO REAL EQUAL ENEMY
As the Marvel movies love reminding us, Hulk is pretty much an invincible character. He has to be, because the one thing we love watching is Hulk take on the entire US army and win without really trying. Tank shells bounce off of him, bullets barely cause itches… The Hulk is pretty much unstoppable. While this is good when it comes to the disaster side of the movie, when it comes to introducing a third act bad guy, there are only a few choices for an opponent to come up against the Hulk.
The Incredible Hulk took the best bad guy, Abomination. Abomination did fine, but like I said, the Incredible Hulk covered every basis open to them. What would a writer pick for the sequel? From what I can remember from the comics, they were either one-time villains that were killed as soon as they appeared (therefore not much of a threat), or other heroes that attempted to stop the Hulk (the Fantastic Four). The Hulk basically became a comic where other heroes could get a quick cameo to impress the fans. I am sure there are some other villains floating around out there in the Marvel universe, but it wouldn’t be long before the lake ran dry.
1 – LESS IS MORE
The truth is: do we even want another Hulk movie? What did the Incredible Hulk and Avengers Assemble have in common when introducing Bruce Banner? He was hiding out in a remote area, finally at peace with the monster inside of him. And that is how we like to see the Hulk. We want him dragged out of retirement, either by the army catching up with him (The Incredible Hulk), or a world-wide crisis that only he could stop (Avengers Assemble). We want the Hulk to be a rare character and if he becomes the subject to several stand-alone movies, the demand for him would fade away.
One good thing that Avengers Assemble gave us was Mark Ruffalo. As the post-credit scene in Iron Man 3 confirmed, we are quite happy to see Bruce Banner in the movies rather than the Hulk. The actor can keep us entertained without even turning green and angry. Maybe for the next Avengers movie, the writers could try having him as just Banner rather than making up an excuse for the Hulk to make an appearance. It would be too risky for a stand-alone movie. One, no one wants to see Bruce Banner: the Movie and two, he wouldn’t be allowed to get excited without turning into the monster, which limits the directions for an exciting story.
So basically the only area I believe the Hulk can survive as a movie character is in the Avengers movie. We have had the origin story told as well as it can with The Incredible Hulk and for the most part, the character should be left alone. Also, if Whedon wants to try adding more heroes to the team, maybe it would be a good move to drop Hulk altogether. He was only needed because of his knowledge with gamma and that narrative device can’t really be used many more times. You can’t help but wondering if it is even worth Nick Fury including the Hulk. Besides, as the first point covered, it might not even be worth the writer’s time including him. I am happy with what we have seen from the Hulk character, so maybe it is time to let him settle into a long break from the big screen.
Planet Hulk! They need to make Planet Hulk, not now but eventually 😀
Mmmmmmm very interesting