We Love "Hulk"

Being a pure comic book geek I was most surprised to discover that not only did The Incredible Hulk steal one of the biggest movies of 2012, “The Avengers,” but that the man who played him, Mark Ruffalo, has been the best Bruce Banner so far. The Hulk has been in two movies prior to “The Avengers,” and the limited screen time of The Hulk has warranted renewed interest in the character.

The Hulk is now going to have yet another new movie series in the work and is set to debut on television once again as Hollywood misses the point. Once again. The Hulk is excellent. In limited doses. In either case, while the first two cinematic efforts to give the Hulk a series have failed, I do have to admit one thing about the prior films.

I loved “Hulk.”

You gasp, and you groan, and roll your eyes, but fuck you, I loved “Hulk.” I went to see it in theaters when it opened, and goddamn if I wasn’t enthralled from minute one. Now. now, you Michael Bay and Eli Roth fans, don’t judge me, and don’t take this as an indicator that my opinion on movies are irrelevant.

I mean, personally I could care less, but seriously folks, “Hulk” is a great film. and I’ll keep saying it, because I believe it so. And Avi Arad, you in your infinite idiocy who cheered on “X-Men: The Last Stand,” and both “Fantastic Four” movies are not one to talk. I can’t take you seriously, and hard as you might try, the 2003 movie is still there.

And you can start over, you can ignore the previous film, you can change his skin color, but with your guidance I’m frightened to see where this will go. Though it’s become almost in vogue to declare a pure hatred for “Hulk,” I can accept that. People can have their opinions. But fuck, I love “Hulk.”

I own it on DVD, I’ve seen it numerously, and I always tend to find something new from the experience. The 2008 movie from Louis LeTerrier who directed the “Transporter” movies, sought to turn the hulk into a prop, while the movie was really nothing but a non-stop smash and stomp movie with little story to it. It’s the way “Hulk” is to Tim Burton’s “Batman” as “The Incredible Hulk” will be to Joel Schumacher’s “Batman.”

Kid friendly, marketable, watered down, and without a story. But then again, Edward Norton is starring so my ass is planted in those seats once it arrives in theaters.

“But Felix, they had killer Dogs! And a giant poodle!”

Understandable. Very understandable. You can argue that, but shit to me it only conveyed the insanity of Nolte’s character and his sheer demented thought process in experimenting on poor animals, and his intent on driing his poor son to the brink of pure rage and insanity.

“But Felix, there was so much dialogue, and very little hulk smashing!”

Not true. Not true. There was plenty of hulk smash, and from what I’ve seen, I’d say there’s an excellent amount of action that isn’t the centerpiece, but acts as a reactionary movement in favor of the story. Bruce Banner’s hulk transformation is his psychoses playing out and this man is coming to grips with his life.

“But Felix, it was so boring!”

I disagree. It’s a fair comment, but I disagree. The hulk is all about psychology and psychoses, and the whole catalyst to the hulk is that his brain is his worst enemy. With his childhood abuse, he repressed his anger, thus the gamma rays somehow linked to his anger creating this manifestation of his repressed emotions and unresolved conflict turning his demons into a green monster. There was bound to be some sense of trying to break down Banner’s life to get down to the reason why the hulk kept appearing. And it’s obvious that there’d be some psychology behind a hulk film.

“But The hulk was nothing but CGI Ang Lee!”

Now there’s a stupid argument. I’m sorry, but Lee had in mind some of the hulk’s movements that he felt no one else could capture, so he put on the suit and performed the moves himself. That’s not only expected, but the hulk was still damn excellent to look at, and he took great pains to fight off helicopters, and tanks, and the whole lot. Andy Serkis played King Kong! Give me a break here.

“But, Nick Nolte’s character just ended up being Absorbing Man? It made no sense!”

Okay, and now Gwen Stacey is alive, and now Sandman is Uncle Ben’s killer, and now Sabretooth is just a goon and not the man with the connection to Wolverine’s past, and now Cyclops is some whiny pussy and not the soldier who constantly tussles with Wolverine. Um… what’s your point, again?

Right, the fact he suddenly became Absorbing man. Well, Nolte’s character was a mad man whose own science turned on him and he decided to have it out with sonny boy. Both monsters, manifestations of their demons and alter egos, and they battled it out.

“But Felix, the characters were so boring!”

I disagree again. Jennifer Connelly was a wonderful balance to Banner’s repressed emotions, while Eric Bana was excellent as Bruce Banner, this thin and impish man who rarely ever spoke above an in door voice and was forced to confront his past. Nick Nolte was utterly fantastic as Banner father, a man who broke his son down mentally and challenged his inner being hoping to gain from it, while Josh Lucas was also very good as the antagonist Talbot who sought out to make Bruce’s life a living hell. And of course, there’s Sam Elliot, who was also pitch perfect as Betty’s father.

“But Felix, the direction was so cheesy!”

I loved what Ang Lee tried to do. Though I can see why some may deem the direction very off-putting. Lee tried to make the film a living comic book, something along the lines of “Creepshow” sans the horror, and I loved it! The scrolling split-screens, the blasts of color, the moving comic panels, and the overall tone are just fantastic to look at, still. And I just love what Lee set out to do with this. Even if you didn’t.

“But Hulk no talk! Why Hulk no talk?! It no fair!”

Hulk talked, he said “Betty…” but you have to understand that Lee was more interested in the monster than the human monster. He wanted the human to be completely disassociated with the monster. So when Bruce became Hulk, all essence of the kind gentle man known as Bruce was gone in his fit of rage.

The monster took over. Only when speaking did he suddenly regain his humanity. But the hulk we saw was the early version, his silent monster. I loved the action sequences, I loved Bruce’s slow deterioration back to the hulk as Betty led him to her, I loved the fight with the dogs, I loved the climax, and hell, I love that we’re not going to see Brendan Fraser as the hulk.

That there puts a warm spot in this here heart ‘o mine. You may call it defending a bad movie, and you have the right to think so. I don’t deny it has its flaws, and I accept that it’s generally despised, but to me I feel like I have to defend this film. The reason for that is because it’s an awfully misunderstood movie. Hell, can you really say it’s worse than

“Daredevil,” or “Elektra,” or “Fantastic Four”? Look at the big picture. “Hulk” was a comic book movie for a more adult crowd.

I hope the Hulk can return to the realm of public adoration once again very soon, and I hope we see Mark Ruffalo in the skin of The Hulk and Bruce Banner once again. While I adored Ruffalo as Banner, I still have a lot of love for Eric Bana in “Hulk.”