The first half-hour of Louis Leterrier’s The Incredible Hulk is the best episode of the late 70s TV show of the same name that never got made.
Yep. I said it. And yeah, I’ll give you a second to let that sink in.
That first half-hour has everything that made an episode of the TV show great: Banner among civilians just trying to blend in, Banner on the run from guys who wouldn’t like him when he’s
hungry angry, and no actual Hulk sighting until the final act. It even features a cameo, via Banner’s TV set, by the late Bill Bixby. Lou Ferrigno’s cameo doesn’t come until later, but whatever, right?
That the rest of the film doesn’t live up to this first act is probably half of why it’s the most loathed of Marvel’s Phase One films, but look at what the filmmakers are trying to do here: they are trying to evoke our fondest and most ingrained cultural memory of the character. And they succeed, for a little while at least.
I love them for that. I love them, also, for doing what no first film in a potential comic book franchise had the courage to do since Bryan Singer’s X-Men did it in 2000: they said the hell with telling an origin story, relegating that to the opening credits, and just tried to spin the best Hulk yarn they could.
Sure, they didn’t manage to make a complete film, but they had me in the palm of their hands for thirty minutes and that’s a lot more than many films can say.
And hey, give it another watch: the rest of the film may not be perfect, but it ain’t as bad as you remember either.
The Incredible Hulk is available on iTunes.