Sandwiched between 'Iron Man' and 'The Dark Knight', 'The Incredible Hulk' tends to get lost in the shuffle in a phenomenal box office year. Director Louis Leterrier prefers to call his film a reboot as opposed to a sequel. Letterrier successfully distances his film from Ang Lee’s tormented vision of 'Hulk' even while keeping core elements such as Hulk’s origin and Bruce Banner’s eventual flight from the U.S. Military.
It is in Brazil where the film begins as Banner is living in the slums of Rio De Janeiro, and trying his best to find a cure for his condition in a homemade lab. General Thunderbolt Ross (Hurt) considers what is inside Banner to be the property of the U.S. Government and he intends to get it back. Major Emil Blonsky (Roth) leads a team of Special Ops in hopes of capturing Banner.
Escaping back to the United States, Bruce reunites with Betty (Tyler) and they continue their work to cure him. Blonsky submits himself to the Super Soldier program, which in the Marvel Comic book universe is the serum that created Captain America. Blonsky will later undergo the gamma radiation process to turn into the Hulk’s archenemy, The Abomination.
'The Incredible Hulk' pumps up the action tenfold over the first film. It is loud and it seems at times as if the destruction will spill off the screen and into your lap. Here the Hulk goes toe-to-toe with a foe that is even bigger and stronger than he is, instead of gamma enhanced poodles and whatever that thing was that Nick Nolte turned into in Lee’s film. Edward Norton is light years ahead of the charisma-challenged Eric Bana and William Hurt is Thuderbolt Ross as if he had just stepped off the comic pages…driven, and obsessed with the Hulk. Roth’s character was a welcomed addition even before he becomes the Abomination.
Maybe the biggest star of the film was the visual effects team. While Lee’s neon-green Hulk was an exaggerated fifteen feet tall, Letterier gets it right with a Hulk who is in the 8 to 9 foot tall range. The fight between Hulk and the Abomination on the streets of New York outdid Iron Man’s battle with Iron Monger. It was longer and the destruction was exactly what you’d expect ouf of two of the strongest characters in the Marvel universe. Cars and trucks were slapped aside like gnats and blows seemed to reverberate in your bones.
You have to credit Marvel for realizing that they could not leave the first film as the Hulk’s lasting legacy. They wanted a picture with more action and more accuracy given to the characters and Letterier delivered on all counts.
'The Incredible Hulk' comes loaded with a lot of fantastic extras. Yes! Unlike 'Iron Man', there is an audio commentary with Letterier and Tim Roth. The only regret is that the commentary did not include more cast members.
Deleted Scenes – There are deleted scenes on both discs, a total of 42:00 minutes worth! Many of the scenes are mundane and don’t further the plot so you can see while they were cut out. These includes scenes of Banner meditating and building his lab in Brazil, but there are some very cool scenes that are key.
One of those features Ross talking to his commanding officer about the “Super Soldier” program. Perhaps a veiled reference to a certain red, white, and blue Avenger? There is also an expanded scene between Ross and Blonsky where the Super Soldier program is further explained.
Some other scenes of note include:
“Bruce Delivers Pizza” Bruce has a run-in with some rather rude sorority girls and utters the immortal phrase “Don’t make me angry, you wouldn’t like me when I’m angry.” They proceed to laugh in his face.
There are several deleted scenes that take place in Leonard “Doc” Samson’s house that help to explore the relationship between Bruce, Betty, and Samson. While they don’t further the story necessarily, they do help develop the characters. And we do get confirmation that this is Doc Samson, as his last name is not revealed in the theatrical cut of the movie.
“Nature’s Mystery” is another interesting scene. After the campus battle with the Hulk, Gen. Ross is theorizing about nature and the Hulk.
“The Making of Incredible” runs (30:00) and explores the production from the first day of shooting. Letterier wanted to get the Hulk into a city setting to provide more action for fans. We get a look at how the film was cast and the creation of key scenes and settings. You’ll see how an old glass factory scheduled for the wrecking ball was turned into the bottling plant where we see the Hulk for the first time.
“Becoming the Hulk” (9:15) is a look behind the design and look of the Hulk. Everything from his muscle structure, to his coloring, to his style of hair is explored with Letterier explaining everything along the way. This feature shows off the respect that Letterier and the entire design team had for the character.
“Becoming the Abomination” (10:15). Here it’s the Abomination’s turn for and up close and personal. A new motion-capture process was used to create facial movements. Tim Roth’s entire face was covered with a phosphorescent makeup which allowed for far more detailed captures of expressions on the character. The visual effects team also show how they worked to make sure that Hulk and Abomination moved completely different from each other in terms of their stride and how their arms moved. Very fascinating bit!
“Anatomy of a Hulkout” (28:00) looks at the three different scenes in the films where Banner transforms into the Hulk. The Bottling plant scene was just to give viewers a taste for what was to come, which is why you see him in near darkness.
“From Comic Book to Screen” This short (6:30) extra takes a look at the comic pages from Marvel’s Hulk Gray book five with art by Tim Sale. This scene inspired the grotto scene in the film.