A game of 2 Hulks

“I’m always angry.”

After seeing another of those films that I never caught on its release – The Incredible Hulk – it got me thinking about its companion movie Hulk (which unlike a lot of people, I really admired when it came out) and how very different the two films were from the same source.

Hulk_Eric BanaAng Lee, the director of Hulk, seemed a strange choice for a Marvel superhero movie but I really thought he did something different and more adult with the material – which is probably why it didn’t do that well. He wasn’t as successful as the reinvention of Batman subsequently was by Christopher Nolan but it wasn’t bad. He had some great actors – Eric Bana (as Banner), Jennifer Connelly, Sam Elliott, Josh Lucas and a too over-the-top Nick Nolte but never mind; and a fantastic design. Looking at how Banner became the Hulk and the past events that haunt both him and his father was a real psychological study of trauma but I can imagine that the measured pacing and sparse dialogue wouldn’t appeal to everyone – particularly the teen/ young audience that the film versions of the Marvel universe are mostly aimed at.

The Incredible Hulk_Edward NortonSo, lo and behold, another Hulk appeared some time later: The Incredible Hulk – in an attempt to reinvigorate the franchise. This time helmed by Louis Leterrier, who went on to remake Clash of the Titans (not as well as this). There was a script with a nice sprinkling of funny lines and another strong acting ensemble of William Hurt, Liv Tyler, Tim Roth and headed up by Edward Norton as Banner. The events seemed to pick up from where Hulk left them, with Banner on the run from General Ross and his new experiment, played with dark purpose by Roth, and not wanting to involve the girl which just can’t let go of. The whole thing moved along at much more of a pace than Hulk but overall, I just didn’t think Norton was quite the right choice as Banner. He’s a fascinatingly deep actor, who brings an amazing focus to whatever he does (a good element for Dr Bruce) and I know Banner is an intellectual beast but I feel Norton’s at home with more visceral non-fantasy stuff that what’s required here.

Now we have Mark Ruffalo (fantastic casting) as Banner in The Avengers to look forward to. Writer/ director Joss Whedon certainly has the fantasy chops from Buffy, Angel and the brilliant Serenity to make The Avengers work, so we’ll see if such a wacky idea – a bunch of superheroes from a number of comics/ movies, forging an alliance to defeat an evil foe – does the business when it hits the screens in late April.

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